Howard Stern Slams Staffer as 'Racist' for Linking BTS to Coronavirus

Howard Stern recently slammed one of his staffers as being "racist," after the individual made comments linking popular Korean-pop group BTS to coronavirus. The comments came back in February, before the virus had been labeled a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Stern brought up concerns over the coronavirus, which prompted staffer Salvatore "Sal" Governale to comment on the groups recent visit to SiriusXM’s New York headquarters.

"BTS is from Korea and Sal was freaking out," Stern said, per NBC News. "BTS was here at Sirius on Friday and Sal was saying, 'There’s no way those guys don’t have the coronavirus.' He was like every a—hole." Stern then went on to point out that the virus originated in China, not Korea, and longtime co-host Robin Quivers added that its understandable that BTS and their crew "are touring all the time." Stern's producer Gary Dell’Abate also chimed in, saying that "every celebrity who walks through the [SiriusXM] door is traveling all over the world — not just Asians."

Governale, who has been with the show since 1996, then stuck to his opinion, saying on the air, "I walked into the lobby and it was like Chinatown, out of control, there were so many Asian people." He then added, "These people are traveling, they’re not locals, they’re going from country to country to country. It’s a dangerous situation. You got to look at it that way — they’re on airplanes; they’re in hotels."

In a later broadcast, Stern told Governale, "I got so many emails about what an idiot you are for avoiding a Korean boy band." One person referred to Governale and fellow Stern Show staffer Ronnie Mund — who made offensive comments about avoiding Chinese food — as "f—ing old, racist pieces of s—," then calling them "misinformed." Stern added, "I'm super paranoid about diseases and germs, but you came off as racist."

Xenophobia surrounding the coronavisru has become a very hot topic online, with many social media users — and journalists — taking to Twitter to comment on the issue.

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"Racist, bigoted language about the coronavirus is driving a surge of violence and hate crimes. It must stop—now," tweeted former Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Anyone wanting up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic can visit the CDC's website here.