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Stern rails against CBS chief on Letterman

Radio shock jock calls Moonves ‘one of the biggest jerks on the planet’
/ Source: Reuters

Two months after jumping to satellite radio, shock jock Howard Stern took his feud with his former bosses to their own airwaves in a late-night TV rant against CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves, calling him “one of the biggest jerks on the planet.”

Appearing Monday on CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” Stern stepped up his recent campaign in the media to defend himself against a breach-of-contract suit brought by CBS last month seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from the ribald radio host.

What made Stern’s latest diatribe so unusual was that it was conducted on Moonves’ own network during a celebrity guest spot promoted by CBS for several days.

“I believe you are working presently for one of the biggest jerks on the planet, Leslie Moonves,” Stern told the “Late Show” host. “He’s a bully, Dave.”

Letterman, who opened his show saying that Stern’s absence from commercial radio was “like having a loved one who’s passed away,” came to Moonves’ defense, crediting the network chief with the recent ratings turnaround at CBS.

The CBS feud with Stern, who battled federal regulators for years over broadcast decency standards, stems from his surprise decision in October 2004 to leave the public airwaves and join subscription-based Sirius Satellite Radio.

Landing a five-year compensation package at Sirius widely valued at $500 million, Stern ended his run on CBS Radio in December 2005 and debuted a month later on the freewheeling world of satellite.

The suit claims Stern improperly used his waning 14 months at CBS to promote his move to Sirius, driving up advance subscriptions in exchange for hefty Sirius stock options under a secret marketing pact while he was still under CBS contract.

Stern insists his deal with Sirius was entirely above board.

“There was no secret agreement, there was no secret payouts. It was in every newspaper and I did nothing that [CBS] didn’t approve,” he said, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: “I Hate Les Moonves.”

Stern appearance boosts ratingsStern called CBS’s suit a frivolous action aimed at distracting attention from the declining profits and listenership suffered by CBS Radio since his exit. And he said the legal dispute would only backfire.

“CBS, in their infinite wisdom, has put me back on the front page of the news,” Stern said. “It was a brilliant move on their part. Everyone had just about forgotten about me, and now here I am back again.”

The appearance by Stern, a “Late Show” regular, proved to be good for Letterman. According to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research, household ratings for Stern’s guest spot were up 5 percent over his Letterman’s Monday night average so far this season.

CBS denied asking Letterman to reconsider Stern’s latest appearance, which was booked in January in connection with his promotion of a televised version of his Sirius radio show that debuts this week on pay-TV service In Demand Network.

“We did not stand in the way of Howard appearing on our airwaves,” the network said in a statement. “We believe his appearance was his desperate attempt to distract attention from the facts of the case.”