NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sometimes it seems like nothing can kill Donald Trump. Racist vitriol, an attack on a war hero and, the latest, a pitch battle with conservative king-maker Fox News, have only served to make him stronger. A fight over sexist comments he made about anchor Megyn Kelly reportedly ended in Fox chief Roger Ailes "begging" Trump to post a tweet declaring a truce.
Teflon Don? Perhaps the explanation lies with Howard Stern.
Remember the Howard Stern of the 1990s? The Federal Communications Commission certainly does. Stern racked up some $2.5 million in FCC fines for his radio station employers. From the 1997 true-to-life Howard Stern biopic Private Parts,
Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for -- are you ready for this? -- an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But... if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."
No matter what Trump does, it's almost as if America just wants to "see what he'll say next."
Trump and Stern are rumored to be friends. Trump has appeared frequently on Stern's radio show since the 90s, calling in to promote ventures and showing up for longinterviews. (The Trump campaign's Hope Hicks declined to comment on their friendship and Stern's agent Don Buchwald told TheStreet that Stern is unavailable for interviews.)
Like Stern, Trump has also found a way to do what the best professional wrestling villains do: command positive and negative attention at the same time.
In the recent Republican debate, when Chris Wallace, a Trump skeptic, asked Trump to provide evidence for his assertion that the Mexican government is sending illegal immigrants ("rapists" and "criminals") across the border, Trump squirmed out of it beautifully, to the obvious delight of Wallace himself.
Trump: "If it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris, you wouldn't even be talking about it. This was not a subject that was on anybody's mind until I brought it up at my announcement," eliciting a broad smile from Wallace, and the crowd cheered.
A focus group of voters assembled by Frank Luntz for Fox News showed their disappointment with Trump. Some choice quotes: "He crashed and burned;" "He let me down;" "He sucked the wind out of the room."
But even if America hates him, they still love him. Polls from Public Policy Polling, Morning Consult, Reuters/Ipsos and NBC News all show that Trump maintained or added to his lead among likely Republican primary voters following the debate.
And who could blame Stern or Trump for behaving as they do? Being outrageous has made them both extremely rich.
Stern's knack for attracting both lovers and haters made him the highest paid radio personality in history -- first on terrestrial radio and then with close to a billion dollars in satellite radiocontracts. And depending on which reports you believe, Trump is worth somewhere between $4 billion and "more than" $10 billion.
One thing that helps you accumulate that kind of wealth is getting other people to pay for your mistakes. Who paid for Stern's bad on-air behavior that earned him millions in fines? Not Stern. His radio station employers footed the bill. Meanwhile, Trump has done much more damage, with his four bankruptcies restructuring billions in debt.
They both have distinctive hair -- any good caricature of Stern is all hair, nose and glasses and Trump's hair rests on his head like a bird's nest made of smog, so you don't so much look at it as struggle to look through it.
More: They're both publicly in the tank for the Republicans. Trump is running as a Republican (though there are rumors he could be working for the other side) and, while Stern has backed Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry, he has since vowed never to vote for a Democrat again.
Their egos. Stern: self-described King of All Media, a term he attempted to trademark in 2006. He also transitioned from his first career to one as a television host; he's currently one of the judges on NBC's America's Got Talent. Trump: You can't listen to him for five minutes without hearing how "smart," "rich" or successful he is. And he has also made the transition from his first career to television -- until recently, he was host of NBC's The Apprentice franchise.
And let's not forget women.
Both have a tortured relationship with the opposite sex. Trump's misogyny was laid bare by Fox's Kelly at the debate, who observed that, "you've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals.'" During one episode, he told a Celebrity Apprentice contestant that he'd like to see her on her knees. His attack against Kelly herself (who, though a conservative, is cheered by feminists for her no-nonsense attitude), insinuating that she must have been on her period during the debate, sparked the Fox fight.
Stern meanwhile is responsible for bringing strippers, simulated fellatio and orgasms to radio. His 1992 straight-to-VHS production Butt Bongo Fiesta doesn't help his feminist creds. How about the "Hottest Women of Fox News" tournament bracket? He has also tussled with Kelly specifically, getting the respected Fox anchor to talk about her breast size and the size of her husband's penis on the radio in 2010, news that came to the forefront in the midst of the Trump-Kelly/Fox feud. Perhaps it's fitting that it was Stern who gave Trump an assist in fighting -- and beating -- Kelly and Fox.
Love him or hate him, like Howard Stern, we just can't wait to hear what Donald Trump will say next.
Whalen MacHale helped with the research and gif-making for this story.