Over the weekend, TMZ.com's network of gossip spies broke the news that comedian Artie Lange checked into a New Jersey hospital for undisclosed reasons, with a representative confirming that news but refusing to comment further, declaring it a personal matter. The Internet being the Internet, rumors circulated unabated, and it didn't help that Lange hadn't been on the radio for about a month, and that Lange's tour dates had been cancelled. This morning was Howard Stern's first day back on Sirius XM with a live show since the holiday break, and Stern addressed the rumors. He opened with an unintentionally amusing misspeak, calling Artie "Jackie" as in Jackie the Joke Man Martling, the guy Lange replaced as Stern's comic relief sidekick. Here is the audio statement from Stern, saying he would honor the family's decision to keep this private, and also addressing haters on the Internet — while also somehow managing to talk about Lange's greatest moments on the show, as if he wasn't coming back, and then shooting down the false speculation that Lange was being replaced.
File under: Timing! Comedy Central announced today that it would be airing the premiere of Lange's hourlong stand-up special, Jack and Coke, at 11 p.m. on Jan. 23.