Howard Stern is big enough to admit his mistakes.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a story resurfacing a 1993 New Year’s Eve Special in which Stern dressed in blackface and used the N-word multiple times.
On his SiriusXM show Monday morning, Stern addressed the blackface sketch directly.
“The shit I did was f**king crazy,” Stern said. “I’ll be the first to admit. I won’t go back and watch those old shows; it’s like, who is that guy. But that was my shtick, that’s what I did and I own it. I don’t think I got embraced by Nazi groups and hate groups. They seemed to think I was against them, too. Everybody had a bone to pick with me.
The radio host talked about the hate he got from many corners over the years, and how therapy helped him find a different way of doing his show.
“Over the years, I did change the show. A lot of people who did like that humour, where I was completely pulling my pants off, those people are pissed off at me now,” he said. “They think I’m a sellout and I’m not doing a good show anymore. I got soft. I came to realize in therapy, if I’m going to be with my kids, and have a successful marriage, I can’t be insane completely 24 hours a day. I have to figure out a better way to communicate. So I evolved and changed.
“The big headline is this, and this is my fear in all of this,” Stern continued. “I was able to change my approach, able to change my life, and change how I communicated. If I had to do it all over again, would I lampoon Ted Danson, a white guy in blackface? Yeah, I was lampooning him and saying, I’m going to shine a light on this. But would I go about it the same way now? Probably not. Not probably, I wouldn’t.”
He added, “At the same point, I will say, it f**king distresses me that Donald Trump Jr. and Donald themselves won’t go into psychotherapy and change. Why not change the way you’re approaching things because, wearing a mask is not a bad thing. Telling people the actual size of the crowd at your inauguration is okay. Attacking me during the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter is absolutely f**king crazy, concentrating on me. You want to concentrate on me and bully me, and expose me, with all the TV shows I’ve done? They’re all out there. There’s nothing new here. We all know. I was the craziest motherf**ker on radio.”
Stern then expressed his solidarity with social justice movements.
“I’m excited about gay rights, telling you not to beat up gay people. I’m excited about the changes that are coming out of Black Lives Matter,” he said. “Watching [George Floyd] choked to death, as I’ve said before, it’s sickening and appalling and I think real change might be in the air. It has nothing to do with me; it’s these guys hitting the streets and saying we’ve had enough. I’m excited about real change that is coming… I’m excited about the changes I’ve made in my approach to radio. But Jesus Christ, anybody who wants… I would suggest the people who are listening now have heard my shows over the past 40 years.”
Looking back on his old shows, Stern said, “I never go back and look at that stuff. I cringe when I look at myself 30 or 40 years ago, and that was 27 years ago, I go, I can’t stand it. Am I a bad guy? I don’t think so. Donald Trump didn’t think so, he was on my show 27 times. Donnie Junior did the show. On TV he said, ‘I’m really disappointed in Howard, he’s changed,’ that I’ve gone Hollywood. Which is it? Do you want me to get in blackface and make fun of Ted Danson? I have changed.”
Addressing Donald Trump specifically, Stern added, “If you solve the pandemic, then we can go and review all my old shows. I paid a fortune to fix me, it ain’t easy. I would do anything. By the way, if you did some more digging you would find I was fired by a ton of radio stations for a lot of different reasons.”
Stern’s longtime radio partner Robin Quivers also backed him up: “I have long been a proponent of free speech and a long time ago I made a vow to myself that one word was never going to keep me out of a room. I don’t care about that word, don’t care about being called an Uncle Tom, because I know who I am and what I stand for. I was showing all that time, that it didn’t mean anything about you. It maybe meant something about the people who were playing around with it, but it didn’t mean anything about you and it doesn’t mean anything about you.”