Howard, did I strike a nerve?
During the first 10 minutes of his radio show yesterday, Howard Stern — the new, improved, evolved and mature Howard — went on a rant about me and the New York Post.
My grave wrongdoing, it seems, was writing an opinion piece that questioned how much Howard has really changed. I think he proved my point.
That column, as far as I can tell, is the only remotely critical coverage Stern has gotten since promoting his new book, which is already a smash best-seller. He listed the outlets on-air: “Good Morning America,” The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Tribune, the Las Vegas Review, a two-parter with NPR’s Terry Gross, Jimmy Fallon — and yes, the New York Post itself, which also ran a lovely, lengthy profile of Stern on Tuesday.
How touchy is he that a mere 500 words sent him reeling?
“I don’t understand a newspaper that does this,” he said in classic Howard subtlety. “Why am I talking to you if you’re going to f–k me in the ass? Just f–k me in the ass . . . Any promotion is good promotion, but it’s kind of a bummer. At least wait a week.”
Is this really where we’re at? A 65-year-old megastar — who has no problem taking other celebs down a peg — demands the news cycle slow down to assuage his ego?
Here’s what I wrote: Why has no one asked Stern — if he has evolved so much and regrets causing so much pain — to explain why he still makes fun of mentally challenged fans? Or why he still verbally abuses his own staff on air?
Stern addressed none of this. Instead, he said The Post is “a bunch of weirdos” (which, true, but . . .) and that I’m “the hit woman” and “a sniper.” Howard Stern. Calling someone else mean.
He doubted my claim that I’m a longtime fan, but it’s true. Despite my problems with Stern and his show, I’ve always admired the way he goes after bullies and hypocrites. Back when Ted Kennedy was still alive, Stern was the only public figure to remind us, constantly, of Chappaquiddick. His impressions of Ted, his Boston Brahmin accent, his pomposity and drunkenness and amorality — that’s the stuff of Stern show legend.
So it’s a drag to see Stern on this massive victory tour, selling two falsehoods — first, a new book that consists of nearly 600 pages of interviews from his show as the product of two years of hard, torturous work. In reality, “Howard Stern Comes Again,” which retails for $35 a pop, contains just 17 pages of new, personal material — and if you’ve seen any of his interviews, you know exactly what’s on those pages.
The other falsehood, of course, is of this self-actualized Howard Stern, his “pure id,” as he told NPR, dead and buried.
Unless, of course, you dare criticize him.