Today's post is a special commentary, for fans of The Howard Stern Show.
Howard finally let slip the real reason why he hasn’t allowed Artie Lange back on his show. If you coughed you may have missed it, as it was one “innocent” sentence, buried within a long explanation that didn’t ring true.
If you’re not aware, longtime Stern sidekick Artie Lange tried to take his life a year and a half ago after a long battle with drugs, alcohol and food. Now seemingly on the mend, Lange says he would love to come back to the Stern show, even if just for one day to tell his story. Stern is not having it.
Last week, a caller again asked Stern why he’s not allowing Artie back, and Stern gave his usual canned response:
I’ve explained the Artie thing about a hundred times, but I’ll do it again. … I am probably the worst person at handling Artie and reading Artie and knowing what Artie needs. And the reason I have been standoffish is I don’t want to say anything that would upset Artie in any way— because I feel Artie did the ultimate injustice to himself. He tried to kill himself. That’s serious business to me. That’s no joking matter. I will never say a bad word about Artie. I only wish Artie well, but I am clearly not someone who knows how to deal with those kinds of problems.
[Transcript from examiner.com.]
As a listener, hearing this again was very frustrating. True, Artie coming back as a full time cast member would put Howard in an awkward position. But Artie coming back for one day would not. It would be great radio, and nothing is more “serious business” to Howard than great radio. Plus, we all know that Artie and the subject matter could be treated respectfully, at least for one interview. So Howard’s explanation just doesn’t make sense.
Apparently, I was not the only listener to be frustrated by this explanation. A second caller continued to press Howard on the same subject. Howard slipped and—embedded in another long and redundant rant—alluded to his true motivation:
I don’t need Artie’s family saying I did something wrong. I don’t need Artie saying I did something.
And there it was. It’s not just what he said, but how he said it: with so much anger and emotion in his voice. If you don’t know, when Artie tried to commit suicide, there were rumors that Artie’s family was partially blaming Howard Stern and the environment of the show. This last comment of Howard’s reveals that he was mortally wounded by those accusations. As payback, he doesn’t want anything to do with the guy. It’s 10% self protection and 90% retribution.
I understand that Howard was bitterly offended by the comments made by Artie’s family. In this, I completely take Howard’s side. Howard was in no way responsible for the Artie’s attempt to take his life. Even Artie himself has never made any comments to this end, either publicly or privately.
But Howard is punishing Artie for Artie’s moment of weakness and darkness. He’s punishing Artie for a comment by one of Artie’s family members, likely made during a period of chaos and confusion. Most importantly, he’s punishing us, the audience, who loves Artie, and wants closure on our nine-year relationship with him on the show.
Mark my words... Howard will not let Artie back on the show unless someone apologizes to him.
If I could talk to Howard directly, I’d love to say “Come on dude, give everyone a second chance, just for one day. You brought Artie into our lives, now give us the closure we’re all lacking. Be the bigger man. If not for Artie, if not for the fans, do it for your one true love: huge ratings.”