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Howard Stern responds to controversy over resurfaced blackface performance

Howard Stern is speaking out after a television special from 1993 resurfaced in which the radio host appears in blackface and repeatedly used racist language.

Stern addressed the controversial performance on his SiriusXM show Monday.

“The sh*t I did was f***ing crazy,” Stern said. “I’ll be the first to admit. I won’t go back and watch those old shows; it’s like, who is that guy? But that was my shtick, that’s what I did and I own it. I don’t think I got embraced by Nazi groups and hate groups. They seemed to think I was against them too. Everybody had a bone to pick with me.”

The offensive sketch is from a pay-per-view New Year’s Eve special in which Stern and his longtime co-host, Robin Quivers satirized a Friar’s Club Roast of Whoopi Goldberg in 1993 where Ted Danson, who was then dating Goldberg, had dressed in blackface.

Danson received widespread criticism at the time, but the Associated Press reported that Goldberg and some other African-American celebrities also came to his defense.

Danson reflected on the incident in a 2009 interview with NPR, calling it “a graceless moment in my life.”

CNN has contacted Danson’s representative for comment.

Stern, 66, went on to say that if he had a chance to do it all over again he wouldn’t have worn blackface.

“If I had to do it all over again, would I lampoon Ted Danson, a white guy in blackface? Yeah, I was lampooning him and saying, I’m going to shine a light on this. But would I go about it the same way now? Probably not. Not probably, I wouldn’t,” he continued.

Stern, who has been on the radio for nearly four decades, is known for his profanity-filled and at times, explicit interviews.

He did not apologize for the skit, but Stern said he and his comedy have “evolved.”

“I cringe when I look at myself 30 or 40 years ago, and that was 27 years ago, I go, I can’t stand it. Am I a bad guy? I don’t think so,” Stern said.

He also added he has toned down his show since beginning therapy.

“I came to realize in therapy, if I’m going to be with my kids, and have a successful marriage, I can’t be insane completely 24 hours a day. I have to figure out a better way to communicate. So I evolved and changed,” Stern said.

Quivers, who was called the N-word by Stern in the 1993 sketch, also addressed the controversy on Monday’s show.

“I have long been a proponent of free speech and a long time ago I made a vow to myself that one word was never going to keep me out of a room. I don’t care about that word, don’t care about being called an Uncle Tom, because I know who I am and what I stand for,” she said. “I have listened to Stern since he first got to New York in the 1980s, and he certainly has evolved from the moment he described, when it was, anything goes. And you can feel the influence of his psychotherapy sessions in the long interviews he does with artists. Some humor on the SiriusXM show still crosses the line, clearly, but he has long been a voice for inclusion and for women’s rights and the LGBTQ cause.”

Stern also discussed his anger at Donald Trump Jr. for reposting the controversial segment on Twitter last week.

“Howard Stern says N-word too many times during awful blackface impression that should have Libs yelling “CANCEL!” Trump Jr. wrote in his tweet.

CNN has reached out to SiriusXM for comment.

“I will say, it f***ing distresses me that Donald Trump Jr, and Donald themselves won’t go into psychotherapy and change. Why not change the way you’re approaching things because, wearing a mask is not a bad thing,” he said. “Telling people the actual size of the crowd at your inauguration is okay. Attacking me during the coronavirus and Black Lives Matter is absolutely f***ing crazy, concentrating on me.”

Stern said he supports the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality and is “excited” about a potential for widespread change.

“I’m excited about gay rights, telling you not to beat up gay people. I’m excited about the changes that are coming out of Black Lives Matter,” he said. “Watching [George Floyd] choked to death, as I’ve said before, it’s sickening and appalling and I think real change might be in the air.”

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