HOWARD STERN SLANDERS PRIESTS; MILLER BREWING STANDS BY THEIR MAN

Catalyst September Issue 2001

Howard Stern, no stranger to insult comedy, attacked Catholic priests in a vicious diatribe on June 30. Miller Brewing, one of Stern’s biggest sponsors, told the Catholic League they were going to stand by their man. Here’s what happened.

On June 30, porn star Rebecca Lord appeared on the “Howard Stern Show” on E! Entertainment Television. When she said she had a comment to make about religion, Stern gave her the okay. Lord said her complaint was with the Catholic Church for being critical of her line of work. At that point Stern jumped in saying, “Catholic priests are having sex with young boys.”

Stern added that those who work in the pornography industry were healthier than Catholic priests. In an angry voice, he charged that priests show boys pornography so they can molest them. Then his companion Robin Quivers commented that the Catholic Church would like to stop Lord from practicing her profession. Lord then undressed on the show.

In a statement to the press, William Donohue noted that someone from the entertainment industry had called him at home to watch the offensive segment. Donohue was awakened at around 1:00 a.m. on a Friday night and was asked to please watch the show when it was repeated at 2:30 a.m. He did just that and then released the following comment to the media:

“What I witnessed was not a Mel Brooks comedic spot but a vicious segment that libeled all Catholic priests. Perhaps most revealing, the segment was wholly devoid of humor. This was not a colorful satire of priests—it was a hate-filled attack.”

Donohue continued by arguing, “It will not do to say that Stern is not an anti-Catholic bigot because he is known for targeting every group.” To drive the point home, Donohue said, “It is one thing to poke light fun at African Americans by playing ‘Black Jeopardy,’ quite another to trash priests in the vile way that he did on Friday. Moreover, if he goes too far with making fun of blacks, his sidekick Robin Quivers stops him.” He then asked, “Just who is around to stop Stern when he—and Quivers—attack Catholics?”

Knowing that it is virtually impossible to succeed by asking Stern to act decently, Donohue decided instead to ask Miller Brewing to drop its sponsorship of the show. Donohue wrote to Jeffrey C. Bible, the CEO of Philip Morris (parent company of Miller), requesting that he intervene. He refused. Then we were told that Miller would stick by Stern because the decision to sponsor the show is based on what “our customers are telling us they want to see and hear.”

At this point, Donohue decided to write to every bishop in the nation asking them to write to those responsible for this decision. We are grateful that many did. Now it’s time for our members to write. Here are the names and addresses:

Jeffrey C. Bible
CEO, Philip Morris Companies
120 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10017

John Bowlin
President and CEO, Miller Brewing Company
P.O. Box 482
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Bob Mikulay
Senior Vice President of Marketing
Miller Brewing Company
P.O. Box 482
Milwaukee, WI 53201


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Written by Bill