As a 30-year listener to Howard Stern, I was eager this morning to hear his take on Friday's executive order banning immigrants from seven countries, issues by President Trump.
I sat through nearly four hours of phony phone calls, Wack Pack mayhem with longtime caller Steve From Florida, and a surprisingly emotional interview with sports broadcaster Joe Buck, until Robin Quivers got to the news.
Robin: Julia Louis-Dreyfus pointed out that she is the daughter of an immigrant who fled religious persecution by the Nazis.
Howard: No Baba Booeys, huh?
Howard has gone out of his way not to badmouth his longtime friend of the show Donald Trump. He even felt it was necessary to chastise media outlets who played selected clips of Trump's radio appearances during the election cycle that pointed out the candidate's sexist attitudes about women.
In doing so, Stern is performing an elaborate game of Limbo – how low can Trump go without Stern giving his true opinions and offering commentary. Robin is not baiting him; she often gets criticized for reporting "old news," and this was certainly one of the most important and pertinent topics of the day.
It's going to be interesting to see how long Stern can maintain this guise. Is he angling for an invitation to the White House? Walking a tightrope to not agitate his most left-wing Hollywood friends? (Even Jimmy Kimmel called one Trump cabinet nominee a "piece of shit".)
But in avoiding controversy by not alienating his "friend" Donald Trump, Stern is terribly disappointing many fans. It's one thing to become intensely politically correct. Or to avoid booking controversial or opinionated guests like Gilbert Gottfried. Or to mend fences with Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell to book more mainstream celebrities.
By not taking sides in this debate, Stern comes across as a coward. Yes, he is a "comedian" doing a "morning radio show." But his opinions reach millions of fans, listeners, and politicians.
What does Howard's father, an Army veteran, think about a Nazi gaining the ear of the President? What does his mother, a champion of integration, think about a ban on immigrants from countries that have not produced any terrorist attacks on American soil?
With every new ridiculous executive order and edict, Trump brings this nation closer to becoming a banana republic. While intensely worried about being judged an illegitimate president, his every action makes that truth becomes more self-evident.
We need voices speaking out about what is happening. And Howard Stern's silence is deafening. And telling at the same time.