Howard Stern has been engaging in "locker room talk" for more than 35 years, but during his return to the air on Monday morning after a week off, the notorious shock jock claimed he's never heard anyone use the phrase uttered by frequent guest Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a now-infamous hot mic moment with entertainment reporter Billy Bush. And he had some harsh words for reporters who are claiming to have "discovered" some damning interviews Trump did on Stern's show between 2002-2013.
"These conversations that I had with Donald Trump weren't done in private like the Billy Bush tapes, this was on the radio," said SiriusXM host Stern, lashing out at reporters who claim to have unearthed the chats. "Why don't I play all the tapes? I have to tell you why: I feel Donald Trump did the show in an effort to be entertaining and have fun with us, and I feel like it would be a betrayal to any of our guests if I sat there and played them now where people are attacking him."
Stern - who said he's exhausted by the whole election cycle - did a 25-minute segment at the top of Monday morning's show reacting to reporting last week about a number of his old interviews with Trump that painted the GOP candidate in a dim light. In the trove of tapes, the billionaire real estate mogul talked about inviting his first wife and mistress to go skiing in Aspen at the same time, bragged about his sex life, said "deeply troubled women" are "always the best in bed" and playfully batted away questions about his alleged past infidelities.
An avowed supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Stern said he was honored the chats are sparking controversy and conversation, saying it would be very easy to play all the Trump tapes in their entirety. But, he argued, that they weren't made in an effort to "f - someone over, ... we were having a good time. I fully knew what I was doing when I interviewed Trump," he said. "I knew I had a guy who loved to talk about sex. ... I had a guy who loved to evaluate women on a scale of 1-10. These are avenues I went down because I knew it would entertain the audience."
He said Trump called him at home last year when the unlikely GOP candidate began winning some primaries and the radio talker tried to figure out what the endgame was. "I said, 'why are you doing this?'" Stern recalled asking Trump. "Why would a guy with billions of dollars [run for president]? ... Don't you know what they're gonna do to you? Don't you know they're gonna open up everything?" Stern then praised a CNN segment from last week that noted he has not tried to inject himself into the election by dredging up the tapes with the billionaire, whom he considers a friend.
"I wasn't imagining that I would be in the middle of this election and literally so prominently mentioned," said Stern, who has hardly shied away from controversy and attention-seeking in the past for his probing interviews and studio stunts. "Quite frankly, as someone just said, I'm surprised they didn't find these earlier," he said, adding that he hasn't spoken to Trump since just before the Republican convention this summer. "There's nothing to find. As the guy said, they were right there in the open."
Stern, who rarely grants interviews, claimed he'd turned down "500" requests from a variety of publications seeking to chat with him about his Trump talks.
After decades of pumping out thousands of hours of the most explicit "locker room talk" ever heard on radio, Stern also weighed in on that phrase, which Trump used in last week's second presidential debate to explain his vulgar comments on the now-infamous Access Hollywood hot mic recording. But, because he's still got a radio show to do, not before he played a Clinton-focused parody of the hot mic moment (as well as a series of explicit parody songs). "Do you think this is locker room talk?" asked Stern's longtime sidekick Robin Quivers. "A lot of the show that I've been doing for my entire life, radio show publicly, is an effort to sort of do 'locker room talk,' to express all kinds of shit and just not even care what anyone thinks," said Stern.
"But this idea of 'locker room talk' ... all the times I've been around guys - and believe me when I'm around guys 85 percent of the times you're talking about p - y but I have never been in the room when someone has said 'grab them by the p - y," said Stern, repeating Trump's boast from the bus. "No one's ever advocated going that step where you get a little bit, 'hey I'm going to invade someone's space.' ... A lot of [locker room banter is] real kind of desperate talk. The reason it's in a locker room is because no one's proud of it."
This article originally appeared on Billboard.com.