Howard Stern says Jay Leno is "insane" and a "crook" and added that he did a "terrible thing" to Conan O'Brien by taking back his job as "The Tonight Show" host following an NBC series shakeup.
Stern, a 57-year-old longtime shock jock known for his candid and often R-rated interviews, made his comments on Tuesday on "Piers Morgan Tonight," the CNN program that replaced "Larry King Live" earlier this week. Leno has not responded to Stern's comments.
"Jay is insane and Jay is a crook," Stern told host Piers Morgan. "He's not fit to scrub David Letterman's feet. I don't know why he's beaten David Letterman in the ratings. It's beyond my comprehension. America must be filled with morons who at night lay in bed, the ones who are watching him, they must be in a coma."
Leno began hosting "The Tonight Show" in 1992. O'Brien succeeded him as host of the popular talk program in 2009 after hosting NBC's subsequent series, "Late Night," since 1993. During O'Brien's seven-month stint as "The Tonight Show" host, Leno helmed a new talk program that aired earlier in the evening.
Following lackluster ratings for both shows and local affiliate disagreements, NBC had proposed that both programs be moved to a later time. O'Brien declined NBC's proposal and left the network. The time slots of the shows remained unchanged and Leno regained the position of "The Tonight Show" host in March 2010.
O'Brien moved to the cable network TBS and his new talk show, "Conan", debuted in November.
"He did a terrible thing to Conan O'Brien," Stern said about Leno. "I don't like Jay personally. Jay was one of the greatest stand-up comics, in my opinion, when he was younger but I do not like how he has behaved with me personally. I've done his show many times in the past. I won't do it again."
Stern, who hosts his own show on the SIRIUS XM satellite radio network, also said he almost retired last year but is "driven by a neurotic compulsion" to continue his job. Reports he would quit or return to FCC-regulated terrestrial radio, where he began his career, have surfaced often over the years.
"Really, why am I doing this anymore?" Stern said. "It makes me crazy. I hate getting up early in the morning, and I don't particularly like doing the show. I think it's my identity. Like, this is who I am.
In December 2010, Stern signed a new 5-year deal with Sirius XM, which will continue to broadcast his hit show and other programs on his Howard 100 and Howard 101 radio channels until the end of 2015.
Check out an excerpt of Howard Stern's interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight" below.