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Since Joe Rogan cashed in for $100 million, the world has wished he’d one day feud with Howard Stern. The nine-figure most influential voice in media vs. the nine-figure King of All Media. It sells itself. And though we are not there yet, Stern has laid the groundwork.
On Monday, Stern, who still won’t leave his house because of COVID, mocked the “shitheads” who “take horse dewormers” and don’t listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci. There are likely many “shitheads” who don’t like Fauci, but Stern doesn’t mean the average rebel — he is referring to Rogan.
How can I say for sure? Later in the show, Stern identified Rogan by name when he took issue with Rogan for blasting CNN after the network criticized him for taking ivermectin.
“I heard Joe Rogan was saying, ‘What are you busting my balls [for]?'” Stern said. “‘I took horse dewormer and a doctor gave it to me.’ Well a doctor would also give you a vaccine, so why take horse-dewormer?”
There’s a more telling development here than who is right about COVID vaccines and treatments. Rogan is doing fine after taking ivermectin and recovering from COVID. And while still paranoid, Stern is protected from the virus after receiving the vaccine. Plus, neither Stern nor Rogan are medical experts. I don’t care what either says about a virus they don’t know much about.
However, Stern’s reaction to Rogan is its own story, and it’s one that has been brewing for over a year. Howard Stern was what Joe Rogan is now. Stern once challenged authority, chose common sense over narratives, and broke the unwritten rules — and sometimes the written ones too. Today, Stern is a defender of the press and a proponent of increased government control. COVID has changed him.
Rogan is now the one who is asking questions the media says cannot be asked, such as whether healthy young adults need the vaccine and whether the government can and should dictate individuals’ medical decisions (on COVID, not abortions). By contrast, Stern is busy declaring anyone who isn’t vaccinated — regardless of natural immunity — an “imbecile.” Stern also suggested that those people shouldn’t bother going to the hospital, a nod to Don Lemon.
Stern is one of the two greatest broadcasters I’ve ever heard, along with Rush Limbaugh. But the Howard Stern of today is not the Howard Stern of old. Maybe that’s a good thing for some listeners, but he’s not nearly as interesting. Stern did not reinvent radio by agreeing with his listeners. His success was never about that. Instead, Stern made listeners laugh and think in ways no one else could. While Stern’s show remains entertaining, it is not about thinking or laughing anymore. That’s what Joe Rogan’s podcast is for.