Kathie Lee Gifford Shares How Her Feud With Howard Stern Ended

Kathie Lee Gifford professed the power of forgiveness in a new interview, which she said helped her forgive Howard Stern following a decades-long feud. The former Today co-host opened up about the surreal experience in an interview with Fox News Digital, recalling that she was floored at listening to a voicemail from the radio personality apologizing to her following years of mistreatment. Gifford, promoting her new book, I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste, said she had no idea why Stern had it in for her, but the feud stemmed all the way back to June 29, 1995, when she sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XXIX at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida.

Gifford said she heard booing as she was introduced to the crowd. The booting, Gifford said she later found out, was a directive from Stern to his fans. She found the whole thing perplexing, particularly because she had never encountered Stern and had never listened to his show. Fast-forward to 2012, the year Stern joined America’s Got Talent. Gifford said she heard he was in the Today studio to announce he was joining the talent competition series in season 7 after replacing the departed Piers Morgan. Gifford said her makeup/hair crew had been instructed not to let Gifford anywhere near the studio, given Stern’s disdain for Gifford all these years.

Gifford wasn’t having it. She decided to walk downstairs and meet with Stern to wish him well. “The Lord… said, ‘Kathie, go down and say hello to him, and wish him well with the show,'” she said. “And I said, OK, Lord.’ I got up out of my hair and makeup [room]. Those girls had been told, ‘Don’t let Kathie go anywhere near the studio.’ … I couldn’t care less. I go downstairs. They go, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going to go say hello to Howard.'” The exchange was brief, but Gifford said she introduced herself and she told him, “‘I want to wish you all the best with the new show.'” She then left and went back to the makeup room.

Later that day, Gifford got on a plane from New York to Los Angeles to attend her son, Cody’s, graduation at USC. And that’s when she got a call from an “unknown” caller, who left a voicemail. It was Stern. “He left a voicemail, and he says — I can’t even use the language that he used,” she recalled. “It was a lot of F-words, but he was saying, ‘I can’t believe how nice you were to me. I’ve been so rude to you and you were so nice. I just need to apologize to you. Please call me.'” She added, “Once I listened to it, I said to my kids at the table, ‘Well, pigs have now officially flown … [But] I just always believe God can touch anybody’s heart … I’m not allowed to hate anybody that hates me. Once you start praying for people, you can’t hate them. Love cannot live where hate does, and it’s a very simple thing.”

Gifford didn’t return the call because she had no idea how to reach him. Later that day, the family was having dinner and another no-caller ID comes through, but this time Gifford knew it was Stern. Her family, however, told her not to take the call. Eventually, Gifford and Stern did connect, and that’s when she says Stern apologized. Forgiveness is a running theme in her new book, which hit bookstores last month. She spoke with ET ahead of the book’s release and opened up about how she dealt with her late husband’s infidelity and how she forgave him as she refused to give up on her marriage.

Gifford also spoke with ET in 2000 about her decision to stay in her marriage following her late husband’s extramarital affairs, sharing that in spite of her anger and heartbreak, she found comfort in her Christian ideals and the thought of keeping their family together. “If I had run when Frank had his temporary insanity, which he was set up for, let’s face it, then our children wouldn’t have their father,” she said. Gifford added at the time, “A very dear friend told me when I was going through the hardest time about it, he said, ‘If you can’t forgive your husband, forgive your children’s father.’ Too many families break up over something that could be healed if they just stay there and trust God to do a healing in their life.”