‘Sorry, Britney’: Media Is Criticized for Past Coverage, and Some Own Up


Some are now asking for direct apologies from people who joked at Spears’ expense or interviewed her in a way that is now viewed as insensitive, sexist, or just plain unfair. Apologies have been made to prominent media outlets on social media, including Diane Sawyer, who in a 2003 interview told Spears what she might have done to upset her ex, Justin Timberlake. Matt Lauer, who raised questions about whether she was a “bad mother”; and comedian Sarah Silverman, who joked about Spears at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.

These demands are summed up in another phrase that is spreading on social media: “Apologize to Britney.”

Silverman, who joked on MTV that Spears’ kids were “the most adorable mistakes”, did just that in an episode of her podcast released Thursday, saying that at the time she did not understand that big celebrities did this might have hurt their feelings.

“Britney, I’m so sorry. I feel awful when I hurt you, “said Silverman. “I could say I just did my job, but that feels a lot like Nuremberg and I’m responsible for what comes out of my mouth.”

And on Friday, Timberlake apologized to Spears on Instagram, writing that he has “deeply regretted the times in my life when my actions added to the problem, where I didn’t speak right or didn’t speak for what was right. (He also apologized to Janet Jackson, with whom he appeared on the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.)

The new documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which premiered on Hulu and FX last Friday, traces the origins of Spears’ conservatory, the legal regime that allows other people – especially their father – to take control of their personal lives and her finances had been on for the past 13 years after her hospitalization in 2008 after a three hour hiatus involving her two toddler sons and her ex-husband Kevin Federline.

It wasn’t just the paparazzi and tabloids that covered – sometimes breathlessly – Spears’ marriages, children, substance abuse problems, and mental health problems: The New York Times, as well as other newspapers, television news, and late-night comedy programs. Even the Family Feud game show found a way to edit Spears, asking participants to list things she’d lost in the past year (“her hair”, “her husband”).



Robert Dunfee