According to a report by Huffington Post, Les Moonves, the CEO and chairman of CBS, was obsessed with destroying the career of Janet Jackson following the 2004 Super Bowl’s notorious half-time show, during which the singer’s breast was exposed, allegedly inadvertently, for nine-sixteenths of a second. According to HuffPo’s sources, Moonves did all he could to make sure her career was wrecked in a ditch.
The incident, which happened in a show produced by CBS and MTV, was explained as a “wardrobe malfunction,” and many believe that the whole thing was more the fault of Justin Timberlake. However, Moonves — who was recently accused of decades of sexual misconduct — allegedly never bought that explanation, believing that the whole thing was an intentional attempt to foment controversy and publicity by Jackson. He believed Jackson was insufficiently repentant, and, the report claims, he singled her out for vengeance.
Moonves ordered Viacom properties VH1 and MTV, and all Viacom-owned radio stations, to stop playing Jackson’s songs and music videos. The move had a huge impact on sales of her album “Damita Jo,” which was released in March 2004, just a month after the Super Bowl.
A major point of controversy, particularly among Jackson’s black fans, was that the reaction to the wardrobe malfunction fell solely on Jackson’s shoulders, even though Timberlake was the one who actually pulled off the fabric to reveal her breast. While Jackson’s career was significantly damaged, Timberlake’s flourished. CBS insiders who spoke to me felt strongly that Moonves played a large part in how Jackson was perceived by the public.
Before the Super Bowl incident Jackson produced 10 number one hits. Since then she hasn’t had the same ubiquity. The HuffPo report also states Moonves was furious to learn that Simon & Schuster, owned by CBS since 2006, had published Jackson’s 2011 memoir True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself. “How the f*ck did she slip through?” Moonves told one of the report’s sources.
Meanwhile, Moonves did nothing to affect the career of Justin Timberlake, the man who performed alongside Jackson at the show and was responsible for the hand movement that unleashed the offending body part. While Jackson’s career plummeted, his took off. Though according to Timberlake the two have patched things up, Janet Jackson’s family, at least, has never forgiven him.
(Via Huffington Post)