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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
The Howard Stern Interview. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 30, 2019 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, Welcome to this AC 360 Special: The Howard Stern Interview.
For much of his career in radio, Howard Stern has been known as a shock jock with wild on-air stunts that were sometimes criticized, often criticized as vulgar, lewd, even offensive.
He became incredibly popular with a devoted fan base which he still has. But Stern says he is now a changed man, looking back on those days makes him at times want to cringe.
He went through years of intensive psychotherapy and also moved off terrestrial radio to satellite radio joining Sirius XM in 2006. There, he slowly began to reinvent himself, both on the radio and in his own life through therapy. There was less raunch and more thoughtful conversations.
His long in-depth interviews with celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld, Lady Gaga and Conan O'Brien gave him reputation as really one of the best interviewers in the business. And that's what he remains today.
One of his most frequent guests over the years was Donald Trump, who he didn't support in the 2016 campaign, though candidate Trump wanted him to.
Eleven of his conversations with Trump, along with his other favorite interviews from over the years, are chronicled in Stern's new best- selling book "Howard Stern Comes Again."
I sat down with Howard for a fascinating discussion where we talked about the interviews he loves, his evolution through psychotherapy and the advice he now has for President Trump.
COOPER: I got to be honest, I've been dreading this interview.
HOWARD STERN, RADIO HOST, AUTHOR OF HOWARD STERN COMES AGAIN: Why?
COOPER: Because I've read every interview you've given for this book; I've read all the interviews that you have done that are in this book, and I feel like I don't know anything to talk to you about that you haven't already said a million times.
STERN: That's the problem.
COOPER: The story about Paul McCartney and the story about--
COOPER: It's the problem - but then I realized this must, this is the agony you go through.
STERN: Why don't you sit back and I'll just take this time and talk. I can do a monologue.
COOPER: I know you can, but I know--
STERN: It's OK.
COOPER: Because I've read every interview you've done, I know what you're going to say. So, I know why you say that.
STERN: And then later on, just later on, insert your questions into what I say.
STERN: That will work.
COOPER: We're not allowed to do that, unfortunately.
STERN: Well, we were talking before - you know, we sat down. We said hello and everything and you actually kind of got me inspired because I was really worried about putting out a book of my interviews. It took me a long time to come to grips with like, could I do that, and would it be interesting?
And so, you know, and now that there's a compilation of people, interesting people I've interviewed, you being one of them.
COOPER: Which - I can't believe you put me in the book.
STERN: I'm surprised you would think anything less. I thought the interview--
COOPER: I've been blown away.
STERN: Well, as said in the book, you said a couple of things that really triggered me and a lot of these interviews, and I talk about the fact that I'm in therapy now, and they kind of combine.
Because after I spoke with you that day on the air, I remember specifically going into therapy and saying to my therapist, "I just spoke to Anderson Cooper and, wow, it has triggered a whole bunch of things in me."
Some of the things you were saying about your mother and your life after the death of your brother and I was asking you questions, and in the most sincere way when I was interviewing you, I was actually trying to learn from you. COOPER: You talked about therapy and a lot of people do not talk about therapy.
COOPER: And you have been very upfront. You didn't just do therapy, you did psycho analysis--
STERN: Psychotherapy. Yes.
COOPER: I mean, sort of Freudian--
COOPER: At its height, I think four days a week.
STERN: That's right.
COOPER: That's an intensive form of therapy. Did therapy - did it save your life?
STERN: It did. It really did. It wasn't as if I was suicidal or something along those lines. But when I say it saved my life, it made me recognize, A, how appreciative I am of my life. It made me recognize all the good things that I have.
And it also taught me how to be a man, how to - by man I mean I have children, how to relate to my children, how to be more involved in a conversation with you, how to be appreciative of you for giving me that interview.
COOPER: You had said that you were a selfish jerk, I think it was.
STERN: Selfish jerk.
COOPER: Yes, sorry.
STERN: But I was also naive. It wasn't like I was intentionally going out to be a jerk. I don't think people would say I was a jerky guy, but what it was is I had no notion of the world around me. I had not really had a relationship with my mother and father where I felt prepared in the world.
And so, when I went out, I was doing things and I think a lot of my self-protection was closing down my emotion, closing myself off to the world, and that kept me very well protected as a child and the only way you grow out of that--
COOPER: Which is trauma.
STERN: That's trauma.
COOPER: I mean, that's the reaction to trauma, is closing yourself down.
[21:05:00] STERN: Yes. And I was one of the most closed down people and it took me years of therapy to realize that, hey, I can be a fan of Anderson Cooper. I can share the audience with you. I was like in sibling rivalry, there was no room for any other sibling.
COOPER: Which is why you - you were very tough on Robin Williams, which I know you regret.
COOPER: Gilda Radner, Rosie O'Donnell because in a weird way you were a fan of those people and that I never understood, like you were a fan of them, but you had to bring them down.
STERN: There was a whole bunch of things. First of all, I was on the radio, terrestrial radio. Satellite radio allowed - freed me in a lot of ways.
COOPER: No ratings. On terrestrial radio and you got quarters and half hours.
STERN: Yes. Terrestrial radio, I got to keep pulling you around, I got to make sure you're sucked into my world and there was really no room to be gracious to a guest, at least in my mind. I had to keep those ratings going.
So, when Robin Williams would come in or if you would have come in those days, I would have just jack-hammered you with ridiculous questions and the audience would have been cheering me on and going, "Hey man, that's great."
Anderson Cooper walked in and Howard asked him, why don't you color your hair or whatever the hell stupid thing, and you'd say, what am I doing here? You know, it would just be silly.
It's not that - when I came over to satellite and I was in psychotherapy, and I describe in the book how I really enjoyed in psychotherapy being heard, especially by a man. And this relationship with this man listening to me kind of opened me up to, "Wait a second, why am I goofing on Rosie O'Donnell? I appreciate Rosie O'Donnell."
COOPER: So, you wanted to create that atmosphere almost on the air where you are - where somebody is being heard, where you were actually having a conversation.
STERN: Yes. If I enjoy that feeling of being heard, maybe my guest would be. And also, it got philosophical for me. I kept seeing what was happening with social media and the art of conversation also dying and what I mean by that is, everywhere you look now, everyone is sort of buried in their phone. We've become isolated.
The art of conversation used to really be something, whether it was going back to the days of Barbara Walters or Edward R. Murrow, conversation--
COOPER: It was an event.
STERN: It was an event. When two people would sit down who maybe accomplished something in life and we'd learn from them, and it would just be fascinating and interesting. And I feel like, you know, on a mass level that has kind of disappeared. We don't all congregate and listen to interviews.
And so, I began to say to myself, you know, I really do want to get under the hood. I want to give that experience to my guests.
COOPER: But I think it's so interesting how, you know, you talk about childhood trauma, how the - I never really realized until the last, you know, 10 years of my life or so, how much the stuff that happens in childhood, it never goes away.
COOPER: It's all - everything is based on that. You know, they say the first two years of your life as a kid are the most important because that's how things are formed. But - sexuality, everything, it all comes from childhood.
STERN: It sure does.
COOPER: It's all patterns we're playing over and over. And it seems in your case, particularly true.
STERN: And not only that, I knew as a father, if I'm playing the same patterns over, well, then I'm not doing a service to my children. I'm doing a great disservice if I'm not fully in the moment and I'm not really understanding what it is I'm trying to present as a father.
COOPER: The fact to me that you didn't even realize you had gone into radio at least in part because your dad was in radio.
STERN: No, I was angry when people would say that to me. I'd say, "I didn't go into radio because of my father." Of course, I did. You know, my father was a radio engineer who eventually got into being a recording engineer and had a recording studio.
COOPER: With like three other people.
STERN: Yes, with four other people. And so, you know, my father with reverence he would see a guy behind a microphone, I saw my father he'd treat them so nicely and what can I get you and he's completely involved with them.
Well, for a boy who was looking for involvement with his father, I said to myself at an early age, "Well, what else would I be?"
COOPER: But I heard you say something - which made me incredibly sad, which was you saw your father looking at--
COOPER: --you saw your dad looking at him and you said to yourself, I wish my dad would look at me in the way that he looks at this guy.
STERN: Of course. I mean, that was my dream to have that kind of gentle kind look would have been the world to me. If my father could have seen me in that light as an accomplished human being, it would have blown my mind, you know.
COOPER: The other thing that is - which I didn't know much about, your mom, but it comes out in the book and you've talked about it obviously on the radio, is something I really related to, your mom talked about - about killing herself when you were a kid.
[21:10:00] STERN: Yes.
COOPER: And my mom used to talk about that. My mom would always say, you know, when I become a burden I'll just, you know, I'll take my life.
COOPER: If I was sick and all (ph).
STERN: Look, you know, that's a heavy thing for a kid to hear. And my mother had - both my parents had very difficult lives. And my mother was very depressed. When she was nine, she lost her mother. Her father sent her away with her sister. Her sister was one year older than her.
COOPER: Tried to get her into like an orphanage.
STERN: They tried - they tried to get her into an orphanage and the orphanage was full, so they sent her off to, I think it was - it was Iowa, somewhere. And she went to live with these relatives who - you know, you can imagine. She had - she would describe having one pair of underwear. She never had a toy. Her mother died when she's nine.
Her mother goes into the hospital, no one told her that her mother went into the hospital, and no one told her that her mother died. Back then, they didn't tell you. They didn't talk to children. She didn't know what happened; her mother was just gone.
So, you can imagine that kind of trauma and having a mother who's traumatized, you learn early on that I can't bring to my mother any problem or any feeling because I don't want to upset her. I want to keep her spirits up. It would be too much for her. I describe my mother in the book as a fine piece of China; I don't want to break her.
And, you know, my mother, when I was in high school, she lost her sister. And her sister died in her 40s and that really sent her into a depression. And she didn't want to live.
COOPER: It's funny you say your mom was a fine piece of China. I used to think of my mom as a space alien whose ship has landed here and she's stranded here, and my job is to like protect her and sort of explain how things are on this planet.
STERN: Wow. I mean, that's interesting. All of this is just - how do we, especially as men, when we're little boys growing up, we need mothers. And, you know, I think before therapy, I saw my mother as the most powerful, strong woman who could handle anything. And then I realized when I was in therapy, no, my mother - my mother got to be protected.
And so, what happened for me is, is that I learned to like kind of bury what was going on with me. I didn't have an easy time of it.
[21:15:00] COOPER: You were living in a predominantly African-American neighborhood?
STERN: Yes. There were, I remember maybe three or four white kids. And all my friends would move away in the middle of the night. The families, they don't want to be known they were moving away.
And it was a tough neighborhood. There was a lot of fighting and you had to fight. And I never would bring this to my parents. I would never bring it to my mother. I just had to deal with it. And I wanted her to be proud of me.
COOPER: It makes me think, the whole thing that you told me about trauma, is that it makes me think of all the people who - it makes me so much more empathetic to other people because there's all these people who have all had trauma, who have not been able to afford psychotherapy or any form of therapy, who have not addressed any of this stuff.
STERN: That's what's disturbing. And I sometimes sit there in therapy, I go, thank goodness I could afford this wonderful doctor who has spent his life really making sure that he's a good psychotherapist. He puts his narcissism aside.
You know, I was sitting in a psychotherapist's office and I said to him, you know, "The reason for this book is really you." He goes, "So now, you're going to give me the book." It's not you, it's me. I interviewed those people.
He goes, no. Well, I want to dedicate the book to you. He goes, why would you do that? So here was a man showing me that he could put aside his own narcissism, sure, you know, it would have been very flattering but it would have been counterproductive to the therapy I was getting. What he's saying to me is I'm genuinely interested in you.
STERN: You don't have to bribe me; you don't have to reward me with gifts; you don't have to give me a Christmas card.
COOPER: Was that a test?
STERN: On my part?
COOPER: Yes. STERN: Yes.
COOPER: I do those tests.
STERN: Yes, me too.
COOPER: You talked about trauma and you've talked about it in relationship to President Trump.
COOPER: That Donald Trump is a person who experienced a lot of trauma early on.
STERN: Yes. From what I know of Donald and his relationship with his father, it sounds traumatic. It sounds like the father was very domineering, the father expected a lot of him and the father - I don't know, there was military school.
You know you read these drips and drabs and you go, wow, I can assure you he's been traumatized because, Donald, his level of narcissism is so strong. He has trouble with empathy, we know that. And I wish he'd go into psychotherapy. I'd be so proud of him if he did and he would probably flourish.
COOPER: But he never has. I mean, he never would.
STERN: There's no way - I do not believe he's ever done psychotherapy. Because he's demonstrating a lot of the - a lot of the behaviors that I recognize.
COOPER: Tony Schwartz, who was the ghost writer on "The Art of the Deal" has said he thinks he's a sociopath.
STERN: Yes, I don't know. I'm not a psychiatrist and, you know, I devote - there's a lot - look, getting back to the art of conversation, I could have called this book "Howard Stern, the interviews." Donald is a prominent player in these interviews over the years, and they're fascinating.
I think the stellar piece in the book is when you read this back and forth with me being the wrestler, the referee to their wrestling match.
COOPER: With A.J. Benza.
STERN: A.J. Benza who was a columnist for the Daily News, gossip columnist and Donald Trump and they're fighting over a woman. And A.J. is basically saying, "I was in love with this woman, Donald, why did you have to take her away from me?" He goes, "I took her away from you, and I was better in bed than you, let's get her on the phone and we'll compare." And--
STERN: She was way more in love with me. And then A.J. goes, "You're a sociopath. You would send her articles where it said you were a billionaire and circle the word billionaire." And this is going on, on the radio. I'm orchestrating this conversation that is unbelievable, it's some of the best radio you'll ever read or hear.
[21:20:00] COOPER: I found it painful to read.
STERN: You found it painful because he's our president. Is that why?
COOPER: Just painful as - that he was taking pleasure in this, you know - I mean, I don't know who A.J. Benza is, he was on your radio. I hope he's doing well but it's not necessarily an even fight. And, I mean, he's - it's the argument of a 15-year-old.
STERN: It's a 15-year-old argument and he's picking the wings off a fly.
STERN: And so, you know--
COOPER: As an interviewer, I've noticed this - just when I used to interview, I don't get to interview him anymore because he doesn't do it. But, he was very susceptible to flattery. And if you gave - and I noticed this, in your interviews with him, you would throw out something like your poll numbers, I've never seen anything like this.
STERN: Well, it's a definite technique.
COOPER: It washes over him.
STERN: Yes, it's a technique. You know, it's like if you meet someone who has a bad self - you're very beautiful, you're so handsome, you're this, you're that. With Donald, it always starts out, notice I call him in every interview, Mr. Trump, this was before he was president. Mr. Trump.
COOPER: That's intentional?
STERN: Absolutely. Someone had asked me, said "Why do you call him Mr. Trump?" I said because it loosens him up. He feels respected; he feels good about himself. Now, he's going to roll. He's going to open up to me.
COOPER: When you see him now in the White House as president, what do you see?
STERN: Well, you know, I go into--
COOPER: Given your history with him and how you know him.
STERN: Well, first of all, it's unbelievable to me. And I've documented my thoughts about how this whole candidacy even came about. This was a publicity stunt. I happen to have--
COOPER: You have no doubt about that.
STERN: I have no doubt because I have some inside information and the thing is that, it started out with "The Art of the Deal," the book, and it was a - you know, a P.R. guy's idea, he said, "Donald, what you need to do is we'll make a sort of a rumor that you're running for president." And Donald's like, oh. So all the sudden, he was being interviewed, the book goes right to number one.
When he had a second book came out, that's when he decided to start the rumor that he was going to run for president. And then this time around in the last election, the "Apprentice" ratings were not what they were. NBC was not going to give him a raise and what's a better way than to get NBC's interest, I'll run for president and I'll get lots of press, and I think that's what happened.
COOPER: Do you think he likes being president?
STERN: I don't think he likes being president at all. I think he liked winning the presidency. He likes to win.
And, again, I'm not Donald Trump's psychotherapist and I had many good laughs with Donald. And in some ways, I feel it has been wrong the way they use my transcripts in a way to frame him and I'll give you an example. When he said the line about STDs being his Vietnam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Vietnam, sort of like--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STERN: That was a very jokey thing on my show. If you went back and listened to the tape, you would not take that seriously. He was in the spirit of the program.
And then he was, you know - they tried to use that against him, "hey, he's being - how dare he compare himself to a veteran of the Vietnam war who served when he didn't serve." All right. Everybody, take a deep breath and relax.
But having said that, the stuff I put in the book I think is very revealing about our now president and there's something to be learned there.
COOPER: Do you think he's the same person that you interviewed now?
STERN: Yes, I do. I think he's the same exact person. I think the only way you really change is to do analysis. So, yes, I think he's the same guy.
COOPER: You haven't talked to him since you turned him - he asked you to speak at the RNC--
COOPER: I think, I had no idea about that.
STERN: He used to call me from the campaign trail and I think he was really desirous of my endorsement because, A, I have a big audience and B, he's familiar with that audience and I think it would have been very comforting to him if I had gotten onboard.
So, when he secured the nomination and he was thinking about the convention, I think he wanted some showbiz there. He picked up the phone and he called me personally and he asked me if I would go to the Republican convention and endorse him.
And I was like, oh gosh, for about a split second I went, can you imagine if I was all in? I would be the head of the FCC. I could be the Supreme Court. I could be on the Supreme Court. I think Donald would give me anything I asked for.
COOPER: You really believed that?
STERN: I believe it for 100 percent. That if Ben Carson can get in there, and I think Donald would have appointed me to something.
COOPER: Because he's transactional or he--
STERN: I think he would have been grateful that I'm on his team. Regardless of whether I know what I'm doing or not.
COOPER: What would you have wanted to be?
STERN: Well, I guess the only thing I really wanted was I wanted him to take me to Camp David because I - you know, my father and I used to joke about this, that if the American public got a good look at Camp David, there would be a revolution in this country, that presidents should not be treated like kings and shouldn't have retreats.
[21:25:00] They should be in the Oval Office working. What is this Camp David and what's going on over there, and who the hell is paying the bills?
COOPER: You think Camp David is very luxurious?
STERN: Yes, I do. Have you been to Camp David?
COOPER: I've never been there, no.
STERN: I know there's a golf course. Do you have a golf course at your house?
COOPER: I don't play golf.
STERN: We cannot treat our presidents like king. I always say the greatest president was George Washington, because they said, "Do you want to be king?" He goes, "Are you jack asses? We just fought a whole war over this. You're going to make me the king?" What a guy.
COOPER: Do you think Trump wants to be king?
STERN: I think Trump would love to be king. It would - then it might be fun. You know, off with their head. But--
COOPER: You think he had those tendencies?
STERN: Of course, he does. We all know Donald. You know, he would love to rule the land with an iron fist; sure, absolutely.
COOPER: Do you think he wants to get reelected? Do you think - I mean, do you think--
STERN: I don't think - I think psychologically if he really got under the hood, I think he'd say what am I doing, I'm in my 70s.
[21:30:00] COOPER: If you could interview him now, because you haven't spoken to him since you turned down the RNC.
STERN: No. When I turned down the RNC, it was the last time he spoke and he said to me, "What are you doing?" And I explained to him in the nicest way that it would be difficult for me, I said I'm not really actually comfortable being a public speaker, which I'm not.
I don't like going up. I never was a stand-up comic, I don't like getting up in front of audiences. This radio studio suits me just fine. I'm alone with Robin and she's my audience. I'm in heaven, it's great.
So, when I - you know, it struck me as even odd. I know he was a Hillary Clinton fan, he was a supporter of hers, so the whole thing was weird.
And I am - I have been a Hillary Clinton supporter way back before even when Obama when she was--
STERN: Yes. I think she's a terrific public servant. I thought her husband was the best president we ever had.
COOPER: You tried to get her repeatedly to come on your show.
STERN: I did everything that I normally don't do. I - including going to The New York Times and The Washington Post and doing an interview with them and supplying them with my whole game plan with Hillary. And the whole game plan was I wanted to humanize her to my audience.
COOPER: You weren't interested in talking about politics or policies--
COOPER: You were interested in her childhood-- STERN: Her childhood--
COOPER: --falling in love--
STERN: I wanted to humanize her. In the same way, there's a couple of people in my book where I interviewed them and the audience's perception changed just from one interview.
COOPER: It's interesting that Hillary Clinton - I mean she must have - given your campaign to get her on and you giving away your strategy, she must have known that was the idea. It's interesting that she did not see that as a benefit.
STERN: I don't have the answer--
COOPER: I don't know if it says something about her as a candidate.
STERN: It does. And I say - and I'm glad we're talking about it because whoever becomes the Democratic nominee or even if you're fighting for the nomination, I applaud those people who go over to Fox News like Mayor Pete who said, "You know what, I want to win this thing." And he got a standing ovation over at Fox News, impressive. And that was my point to Hillary.
You know, I knew Donald Trump from being on the air with him for so many years. And he provided some of the greatest radio. I knew he was a good communicator. And what do I mean by good communicator? Talk like a dude. He just knew how - he knew the audience, he knew how to play to them and they liked him. They liked him.
COOPER: He is - you know - he has a real charm. When he wants to be, he can be charming.
STERN: He has an absolute charm. He is very charming, you know. And so, when I saw this and I was a Hillary supporter, I did go on this campaign and I documented in the book and I detailed it. I think it makes for interesting reading. But at the end of the day, I never did hear from Hillary's campaign.
COOPER: Who in the Democratic field do you - would you want to interview now?
STERN: I don't know. I don't do a lot of political interviews. I'm kind of fatigued from it. I'm talking about for my radio show.
COOPER: I assume if you were doing Democratic candidates now, it would be more about their background, where they are coming. I mean just as you wanted to do with Hillary Clinton.
COOPER: Do you find any of them, the current crop, A, do you find any of them kind of interesting in their life story and B, do you think any of them can actually beat Donald Trump?
STERN: Yes. Again, what I do is when I interview people, I have - I generally have an interest in them. I am curious about Mayor Pete because, number one, an openly gay candidate, to me, I salute him. It's not going to be easy. There's still so much of our country that is homophobic.
And, you know, we could sit here in New York and say "Hey, right on," but, you know, he's going to catch a lot of hell. And I admire his service to the country. I also find him, when he speaks, incredibly intelligent and knows how to talk.
COOPER: So you'd like to interview him?
STERN: I'd be curious about his life. I really would be, and the adversity. But, you know, Biden would be just as sort of interesting to me in a way. You know, I kind of find all people interesting and I--
COOPER: You never interviewed Biden?
STERN: No, I've never interviewed Biden. There's something interesting in everyone.
[21:35:00] STERN: You said, you know, it is easier to talk to your mom on the radio than it is--
STERN: Oh, yes.
COOPER: I wrote a book with my mom by e-mail and it was just us asking each other questions, and it was done by e-mail because--
STERN: How mind-blowing is that?
COOPER: It's so much better than asking face-to-face.
STERN: But that makes me sad, you know.
STERN: This is your mother and you had to find some device to communicate with her.
COOPER: Well, part of it was scheduling, but yes.
STERN: Yes, but you know, looking her in the eye--
COOPER: Yes. Look, I'm a wasp.
COOPER: I keep everything pushed down deep inside.
STERN: Would you be able to look your mother in the eye and really tell her about your pain in life and--
COOPER: I have, yes.
STERN: You have?
STERN: How did that go?
COOPER: You know, it took a while. It was hard to do, but yes. And it was essential, actually.
STERN: Was she able to hear it?
COOPER: Oh, Yes. No, my mom is the most empathetic, you know, I mean, she's thought--
STERN: So, she didn't try to make it all better. In other words, she didn't say to you, "Oh, Anderson, your life's not that bad, I had it rough?"
COOPER: No, no. But she - I'll tell you honestly, when we were doing this book, at one point, she was like, "You know what, I don't want to do this e-mail anymore, I'm tired, I'm 92, how about I just talk to you on the phone and you type it all out?" I'm like I've got three jobs--
COOPER: I'll give it a try. We do it for a day. And at the end of the day, she says to me, "You know, I love talking to you, especially when it's about me."
COOPER: And I was like, "Mom, that is the truest thing you've ever said to me."
STERN: Well, it's good that she could say it to you.
[21:40:00] STERN: You know, it's so interesting this dynamic between mothers and sons, and fathers and sons. I mean, it is, as you were saying earlier, that is sort of the backbone of this book. And hey, talk about growth and therapy, I was able to write a book about other people.
I couldn't have done that early in my career. This book is really celebrating other people. But in a sense, it's also the most revealing book about me. Because of the questions that I ask, you start to realize who maybe I am.
COOPER: I also think it's something - it's a letter to your daughters. I mean, I--
STERN: It is.
COOPER: --am being presumptuous in assuming this. But I've viewed it as a letter to your daughters and to your - to their kids, if and when they have kids, or if they already have kids, I don't know. But it is something - my dad wrote a book about his family and my family, and I read it two times a year because it's the only thing I know of my dad. And, you know, generations of Sterns from now on can look back and read this.
STERN: You're 100 percent right. You don't know how deep that goes.
COOPER: And hear your voice which is incredibly important.
STERN: I honestly - I mean, when I was writing the book, I always had my daughters in mind and the vision I had was that I was going to hand them this volume and tell them, "Jeez, I hope when you look back on your father's life, you look at this and you have something to be proud of."
And I really had them in mind when I wrote it. It was me talking to them and saying, "Look, you know, I know I was a workaholic and I was very devoted to my career but look at the good that came out of this, look at these interviews and look at what I've collected."
And I thought in a way it was revealing myself to them in the way I'd like to be seen by them. And at the end of the day, my first two books caused them a lot of pain. They were too revealing. It was too raw. It was also me trying to just kind of be this outrageous maniac. It was too forced and it was - I don't know what I was going for there. But this book, I hold up as like, this is who I am.
COOPER: My - I told you my dad wrote a book. He did some radio interview in public radio in 1976. They restored it, put it online and sent me an e-mail and said, "You can listen to this." And I clicked on it in my office and it was the first time I'd heard my dad's voice since I was 10 years old. That's when he died.
STERN: Oh, wow.
COOPER: And I couldn't remember what he sounded like, so I was thinking about this not only - for your daughters and your grandkids and great grandkids ultimately, to be able to even hear your voice on the radio, that's an extraordinary thing.
STERN: Yes, it really is extraordinary. I don't know that I've really allowed that to sink in but with the book I did. There's something about - first of all, I love the look, the feel of the book. I like the picture on the front. I feel there's something genuine about it.
And ultimately, when I open that book up on every page, I go, "Wow, this was an accomplishment. This was something good." So, there was a time in my life, I couldn't appreciate what they were telling me. I couldn't even stop and enjoy that.
STERN: All my insecurities, I think, "Oh, my God, what am I going to do to top this?"
And I sat back and I had just been dealing with this in therapy yesterday. The therapist said to me, "Why can't you enjoy the fact that you were on Stephen Colbert and he gave you the whole hour?" I hadn't stopped to reflect that something good had just happened.
COOPER: I don't - I can't enjoy at all.
STERN: Yes, but maybe--
COOPER: So, how do you get to the place where you can enjoy?
STERN: Well, you know, I think I just had to sit back and say, "You know, some good things are happening to me." And you know why you can't enjoy it? Because it would make you vulnerable. And that struck me as a profound thing.
COOPER: It makes you vulnerable because if it goes bad--
STERN: No. If it goes good, it makes you more vulnerable. You feel love in your life. You feel like "Oh wow, somebody was good to me." I owe something to somebody.
COOPER: But see, I am a catastrophist. So I believe if I let in that good, like, if I say to myself things are going good--
STERN: Then something bad will happen.
COOPER: Something bad is going to happen. And if I don't take enjoyment in things, then I also won't feel pain in things.
STERN: Well, that's the story of the Jewish religion. You would sit there and hang things and pray to God that nothing something bad happen. And when something good would happen, you pray to God, oh, don't even look at it--
STERN: You know what I mean? No, no, because something bad is now going to happen. This is what we're playing out.
STERN: You're really Jewish; you don't know it.
COOPER: I wanted to be. I begged my mom for bar mitzvah. I went to so many bar mitzvahs, I could (inaudible).
STERN: There you go. But, you know, so all this stuff, even opening yourself up as an interviewer, it opens you up to a vulnerability, you know.
[21:45:00] COOPER: Are you worried about the country? STERN: Oh, yes, of course. Listen, I have three daughters. I am worried about the country. I - this notion particularly about immigration, I'm a guy who, you know, both sets of grandparents came over and they were fleeing horrible situations. If they had had to take a test - one of my grandfathers never learned how to speak English. He couldn't master the language. He came here too late in life.
This is the greatest country in the world. I thank God for this country and the opportunity - listen, where else could I have had my kind of career?
COOPER: So there would be no Howard Stern if there had been a test for your grandparents?
STERN: There would be no Howard Stern. And the point is with our country, you know, that Statue of Liberty, I took that for real. You know, give us your tired, your poor. We're not going to get the intelligentsia necessarily.
[21:50:00] We are a country of immigrants, poor immigrants, who came over here and got a chance. And to cavalierly say, we're closing those doors down. We're going to give you a test and if you pass the test, then maybe we'll let you in.
Boy, that's a pretty heavy statement. And I know, listen, not everyone has been lucky economically and it's easy to blame a poor immigrant coming over, you know. But that's what they did when my grandparents came over. It's the same old, same old, you know. And, you know--
COOPER: It's what was done with Catholics and Jews, everybody.
STERN: It went on with everybody.
COOPER: At one time or another.
STERN: Italians came over, they were the enemy. The Chinese came over, they were the enemy, you know. We've got a lot of stuff that went on in our country. And I hate when people start talking about how, you know, black people, poor blacks do not deserve some kind of shot through equal opportunity or something like that.
Well, how many whites are sitting there and getting a shot at college or getting a shot at a better education because they have so much more and there hasn't been this inherent racism? There seems like sometimes we have to right the wrongs. I'm not some ultraliberal. I'm really not. I've voted for Republicans. I've voted for--
STERN: Yes. I voted for Pataki; I voted for Giuliani. I have voted - you know. I have voted for Republicans and are friends with many Republicans. But there used to be a civility between Democrats and Republicans. And it seems like it is all-out war now. And I don't know what's going on right now.
COOPER: Do you think that's just the president or more than - it's more than that?
STERN: Well, you can't just blame Donald Trump. But there's a lot of seething anger, you know. And I'm concerned about the Supreme Court. The idea that we are even discussing Roe v. Wade, you know. I would say to people, listen, you don't want to have abortions - my wife is against abortion, but she's not against your right to get one. She wouldn't have an abortion, but she wouldn't close down that opportunity for anyone else.
The people who are alive now, we got to worry about. Do we need more unwanted children on this planet? And these same people are screaming about abortions, and they shouldn't be allowed. I don't see them adopting anyone necessarily. I don't know how they're going to take care of these unwanted children in these horrible situations, and mothers who commit suicide because they weren't ready to have a kid.
Stop and take a breath. And to see a more harsh ruling come out on the Supreme Court, it would be a disaster. We both remember the days of women with coat hangers and going in back alleys. That stuff is not made up. And who was getting abortions during those days? The rich. So, you know, this would only affect the poor. And so, you know, look, there's got to be some compassion here.
I also don't like our foreign policy and where it's going. Again, Iran is a dangerous situation. North Korea is a dangerous situation. I see this pulling away from our allies and NATO. It's all very disturbing to me.
[21:55:00] COOPER: It seems like you're almost content. To me, content is a big word. Like, I don't - happy seems like--
STERN: I'm happier; I'm not content. I'm still in therapy. But I'm learning to stop and smell the roses.
COOPER: You have moments of contentment?
STERN: I do. I described in the book. I have taken up painting. I get tremendous pleasure from that. I've learned to enjoy some little things that go on every day. I'm happier. I still got a lot of work to do on myself. And someone said to me the other day, "I was reading the book and I'm going to go back into psychotherapy."
And that was one of the big pushes in writing the book. I wanted to say, hey, especially some of the guys in my audience who go, "That stuff is all nonsense, I'm not talking to someone." I wanted to say, it really had an impact on my life. I wanted to be very genuine about it.
COOPER: It really - I mean, most people do not change after a certain age.
STERN: That's right.
COOPER: You have changed.
STERN: I have. And I think it's possible for anybody to do it. And really, what are we looking for? We are just looking to have better relationships with people and be a little more content with our lives. I don't know. What do I know, Anderson? You understand? I wish my name was Anderson. Can you imagine if I was an Anderson? It wouldn't fit this face, right?
STERN: I got to look like you to be an Anderson.
COOPER: I don't even know what that means.
STERN: I don't know; you're an Anderson.
COOPER: Do you know that Anderson is a very popular first name in Brazil?
STERN: Is it really?
COOPER: Yes. I don't know why.
STERN: I think the name Howard is on the list of popular names. I think it actually just broke into - I think it's 999.
COOPER: You think you've been cursed with your name?
STERN: My mother wanted to name me Harvey.
COOPER: No, really?
STERN: --which would have made my life even more difficult.
COOPER: That would have been a Shawnda (ph).
STERN: Yes. My mother was not good at picking names. She wanted to name my sister - my sister's name is Ellen. She wanted to name her Fern.
STERN: So she would have been Fern Stern. My mother goes, Fern is a beautiful name. And my father actually stepped in and went, "Are you crazy? That can't be." So I'm not Harvey. I'm Howard and I'm thankful for that at least.
COOPER: Fern Stern.
STERN: Life would have been - I would have gotten beaten up 20 times more if I had been Harvey.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
STERN: All right. Thanks.
COOPER: I appreciate it.
STERN: Good to see you.
COOPER: I hope you enjoyed this interview with Howard Stern. His best- selling book, "Howard Stern Comes Again" is out now. Thanks very much for watching.