It’s worrying, some might say, when a personality as outrageous and brazenly offensive as shock jock Howard Stern is himself offended.
And yet this is exactly what happened after Donald Trump bragged last week via Twitter and elsewhere about the high ratings his White House coronavirus briefing “show” is getting. But then that was just Trump being Trump, even during this time of incredible suffering being caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Bragging is just a large part of what he does and who he is.
Still, the ratings comment astounded even Stern since it revealed with painful clarity that as far as Trump is concerned the briefings, as well as possibly even the pandemic itself, are little more than a new reality show he’s starring in (and one he’s almost certainly hoping will be more successful than The Apprentice ever was.)
And even if you’ve become—as many of us have—largely inured to Trump’s outrageous behavior it was, again to quote Howard Stern, quite literally mind-boggling to listen to Trump singing the praises of his own performances at the briefings while tens of thousands of people throughout the country are ill and dying in unprecedented numbers, partly as a result of his administration’s early inaction with regard to the virus.
But then Trump apparently lacks the ability to see that his ratings “boost” is taking place because Americans are deeply frightened or, in Stern’s words, “scared sh…less” by the current pandemic. As Stern, who’s beginning to sound almost like a voice of reason, noted, “The American people are in crisis and are tuning in to see what the president has to say.”
“It’s not your incredible reality TV show that you’re putting on for the country,” Stern said in an article in thehill.com as if speaking directly to Trump himsel. The SiriusXM host, who counts Trump as a friend, added that while many of his listeners would like for him to do more “ranting” about Trump in his opinion doing so would be a waste of time, “Me yelling about Trump, in my mind, doesn’t do a damn bit of good,” Stern said. “It’s not going to make Donald be a better, compassionate president,”
The relatively high ratings for the White House briefings illustrate just how desperate the country is for the one thing it’s unlikely to get from Trump, which is reliable information. Indeed, the marathon sessions, which are attracting fewer and fewer among the press corps—partly due to reporters’ quite reasonable concerns about contracting the coronavirus—have of late been roundly criticized in the media for the extent to which they’ve become a political platform for Trump, allowing him to disseminate inaccurate and even false information, most notably having to do with the availability of testing for the virus as well as with the promotion of experimental and thus far unproven drugs.