- Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Howard Stern is a wonderful interviewer. But he doesn’t know jack about politics.

The longtime shock jock is best known for fart jokes and porn stars, but Mr. Stern has mellowed with age (he’s 70 now), and his crack staff expertly prepares him for sit-downs with the elite actors of Hollywood, as well as top musicians and other cultural icons of the day.

But not politicians. Mr. Stern is woefully uninformed about the news of the day — and proud of it. On Monday, he declared: “I really wish we didn’t need to talk about politics. There are so many people who are good at [that] sort of thing. But it’s not my thing. … if you want to get into hard-hitting political questions, it’s not my bag.”

That comment came, sadly, AFTER his sit-down with President Biden. Yes, Mr. Stern, of all people, got a coveted interview with Hidin’ Biden — the guy who hunkered down in his basement throughout the 2020 presidential campaign (aided by the COVID-19 lockdowns) and has done the fewest press conferences and interviews of any modern president.

It wasn’t by accident: The White House picked Mr. Stern because it knew he was uninformed and couldn’t ask a serious question.

The jock proceeded to prove just how incredibly out of touch he is — along with the avuncularly out-of-touch Mr. Biden (it was, after all, a guy worth $650 million chatting with a career politician whose net worth somehow increased from $9 million in 2019 to $41 million in 2022). Neither has a clue about how regular Americans live.

The Sirius XM host proceeded to waste 50 minutes of his 75-minute interview with Mr. Biden talking about the president’s youth — including his high school football career — letting the president spout absurd lies at will (at one point he said he saved six people when he was a lifeguard at a neighborhood pool. Oof).

Mr. Stern was so blown away by interviewing a sitting president that he forgot to get around to subjects his listeners — and maybe all Americans — really care about. Sky-high gas prices? Slipped Mr. Stern’s mind. Soaring mortgage rates? Not a question. Ridiculous prices at the grocery store? Well, Mr. Stern gets a pass on that one, because he hasn’t bought groceries in years.

Out-of-control crime? The border crisis? Skyrocketing federal debt? The broken health care system in America? Mounting poverty and homelessness? Not a single query. Howie couldn’t care less.

In his early days on the radio, Mr. Stern ripped the rich and powerful, mocking politicians for their shallowness. He claims he’s an independent, but his sycophantic performance last week proves otherwise. He is now a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.

Let me say two things: First, I’m a fan of the Stern show. He’s funny, his staff is funnier, the Wack Pack is funniest, and I listen often. Second, I get that it’s called “The Howard Stern Show” (as he often points out). He can — and does — do whatever he wants. He is beholden to no one.

Mr. Biden won’t be interviewed by the likes of The New York Times or The Washington Post (sure, they’d lob some softballs, too, given their clear liberal bent, but they’d also take a few swings at the president). And he mocked the whole scenario at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday night.

“I do interviews with strong, independent journalists who millions of people actually listen to,” Mr. Biden said. “Like Howard Stern.” The crowd laughed — sadly.

The president’s interview with Mr. Stern came just days after the Times slapped the president for dodging the media. “For anyone who understands the role of the free press in a democracy, it should be troubling that President Biden has so actively and effectively avoided questions from independent journalists during his term,” the Times said. Well, that was the point.

Again, that’s not Mr. Stern’s wheelhouse: He doesn’t know what’s going on unless it’s happening in his $35 million Hamptons mansion or his $52 million mansion in Palm Beach. And of course, it’s not the duty of a shock jock to ask the questions well-informed journalists would ask if given the chance.

But he could have. And he should have. Mr. Stern could have stepped up and given his listeners something they couldn’t get anywhere else. He could have — just for that 75 minutes — played the role of a journalist speaking truth to power, asking tough questions, pressing the president for answers.

Oh, well, back to fart jokes and porn stars. 

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X @josephcurl.

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