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The New Front Line of the Culture War: Howard Stern vs. Joe Rogan

In case you missed it - and if you did, I going to guess you spend every moment of your free time away from cable news, the internet, YouTube and the podcastosphere, and to that I say I envy your peaceful existence - last week Joe Rogan recovered from Covid. He then went on his No. 1 in the world podcast to talk about the experience. 

In short, he has made it abundantly clear he's not telling anyone not to take the vaccine (you can't, otherwise YouTube and the other socials will demonetize you, if not deplatform you altogether), but has been upfront that he's skeptical and refuses to take it. And described on his show how, once he felt symptoms, went to his doctor who prescribed some therapeutics. One of which, Ivermectin, he wanted because he had a medical expert on his show who recommended it and mentioned some public health official from Tokyo who touted its efficacy. And Rogan told his guest Tom Segura that he was back on his feet in three days and feels fine. But they laughed about how CNN and some other outlets referred to the drug he took as a "horse dewormer" and debated whether he can sue them. 

OK, maybe that wasn't so short. But necessary in order to set the scene. 

God knows, Rogan has had his critics for years. You can't talk into the most listened to microphone in the country and steer into every hot button issue, from political correctness to cancel culture, gender identity to politics, race to religion, sex to drugs and comedy, without creating a standing army of haters. It comes with the territory you've chosen to stake out. And ultimately, good for business. 

What's ironic is that since Rogan talked about his treatment, his angriest and most vocal critic is pretty much the Columbus who discovered the territory Rogan rules over. The man I could've written that above paragraph about at any point in the last four decades. At least until the last five years or so. Ever since he's come out and repudiated everything he's ever done or said that might have offended anyone. In other words, the very humor upon which he built the greatest empire in the history of radio. 

New Howard Stern hates Joe Rogan worse than anyone ever hated Original Recipe Howard Stern. 

Source - Stern mocked the anti-vaccine “sh*theads” who accuse people of “worshipping” Dr. Anthony Fauci while “they take horse dewormer from a doctor.” ...

Stern, who remarked that Rogan could have also gotten a vaccine — which Stern heralded as a “cure” — and skipped the whole ordeal. 

"I heard Joe Rogan was saying ‘what are you busting my balls [for]? I took horse de-wormer and a doctor gave it to me.’ Well a doctor would also give you a vaccine, so why take horse-dewormer?"

Stern went on to muse about what the situation would have been like if Covid anti-vaxers were around to reject the vaccine for polio. He also once again mocked how “all this anti-science goes out the window” when people wind up in the emergency room for Covid.

“There’s never been one that said ‘I’m so glad I refused. I’m so happy that I can’t breathe. This is a wonderful way to die, it was worth it because I didn’t take the vaccine,'” Stern said.

 At another point, Stern tripled down on his lack of sympathy for “imbeciles” who’ve been hospitalized for Covid after refusing to get vaccinated. ...

“We have no time for idiots in this country anymore,” Stern said. “We don’t want you. We want you to all, either go the hospital, and stay home, die there with your Covid. Don’t take the cure, but don’t clog up our hospitals with your Covid when you finally get it. Stay home, don’t bother with science, it’s too late. Go f*ck yourself, we just don’t have time for you.”

Just to get this out of the way, I'm not advocating for either argument. These are two comedians with differing opinions on medical treatment. And personally, I prefer getting my advice from the nice primary care man I'm signed up with. The guy who's never done stand up or fed hot dogs to chicks in bikinis from the end of a fishing rod but who has a degree in how to treat the human body. Your results may vary.

I'm just here to watch this battle play out. In the way that 1914 Jerry (No, I wasn't around yet. And I find your ageism offensive) would've watched with fascination as Serbia and Austria-Hungary went to war. Because I believe ultimately, this is where the battle lines of our time are being drawn. Two strong personalities with legions of followers that number in the millions. Each with tons of money and influence. Who are both virtually cancel proof, given that many have tried and none have come close to succeeding. 

And if I had to handicap it, I can't see any way Rogan doesn't win this battle in a rout. For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is his greatest strengths are his curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Whatever else you think about Ivermectin, he talked to a doctor who told him he believes in its efficacy. The last I looked, Stern was talking to Jimmy Kimmel and Elton John. 

Besides that, there's not a Stern fan I know who doesn't see him as a sellout. Someone who's disavowed everything that made his show the best thing on the air. His two SiriusXM stations are next to one another. I defy anyone to sit through the current one where he's talking to Drew Barrymore about how great her daytime talk show is, then flip to Classic Stern having a guest queef "Flight of the Bumblebee," and not want to stick with Howard in his prime. 

More to the point (and I say this as someone who got the shots as soon as I was eligible) I can't imagine that Peak Howard would've been screaming about other people's personal decisions. Sure, he openly rooted for some people to die. Don Imus and the religious zealots that were always trying to get him thrown off the air, just to name a few. But that Stern was a small "l" libertarian to the extreme. I can't imagine him demanding people take a drug they (for whatever reason) don't trust or not take one that they do. For certain he would've been putting Jenna Jameson on a Symbian instead of giving off big "Old Man Yells at Clouds" energy. 

The bottom line is, this is a battle Stern might have won 20 years ago. But his audience has aged out of fights like this. And he doesn't stand a chance against the King of All Podcasts.