Volume 93, Issue 52

Wednesday, December 1, 1999


Train just keeps on comin'

Public finds soft spot in Stern's private parts

Vultures a smug success

Undercovers reveal nothing promising

Public finds soft spot in Stern's private parts

Love him or hate him, there's no denying shock jock Howard Stern has made his millions of dollars largely by preying on the personal misfortunes of others. Interesting then, to see what will happen now that the shoe is on the other foot.

Although the enigmatic DJ is widely regarded as one of mainstream's vilest media personalities, the fact of the matter remains that Stern has always shown relative class when it came to matters of his marriage. In his various books and films, Stern has consistently championed his wife as the most important person in his life, never once fearing such "soft" sentiments would conflict with his otherwise unrelenting exterior.

That's why it was fairly surprising to find out the couple's longtime marriage was dissolving. Earlier this year, wife Alison chose to end the couple's 21 year relationship, citing irreconcilable differences in the process.

As expected, public reaction has been mixed. Some of Stern's most ardent fans may see this as an opportunity for Stern to truly cash in on his fame, while his most fervent objectors can clearly view this as an opportunity to exercise some poetic justice.

Perhaps even worse than the taunting and often malicious phone calls placed to Stern's radio show is the recent launch of a new online "news resource." The web site, located at howardsterndiv-orce.com, is devoted to keeping the public abreast on the unfolding details of Stern's admittedly painful separation.

Stern is reportedly furious about the web site and has apparently even issued a formal request to the webmasters, asking they "cease and desist" from publishing any further information about the breakup. The problem is, the people behind the web site aren't doing anything which legally infringes upon Stern's rights. Perhaps even more of a problem is that Stern has done much worse to others in the past – that in itself will probably make it extremely difficult for him to try and drum up public support in his efforts to get the site removed.

Regardless, the whole issue has raised some very interesting questions about celebrity and privacy. More than any other media personality in recent memory, Stern has vehemently fought for his right to intrude into the private lives of almost anyone, celebrity or not. Now that he's on the receiving end of such public humiliation, he's changed his tune and is getting roasted for it. One can only wonder whether he'll react to the sudden role reversal by abandoning his exploitative tactics (he's actually pretty amusing when he's not going for the jugular) or by becoming even more ruthless.

At the very least, the whole fiasco is an interesting case study of our gossip-hungry culture. At the very most, it'll be remembered as a pivotal victory in the name of personal privacy.

Either way, it proves a point that people have been arguing for years – Howard Stern is good for something after all.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999