“Wardrobe Malfunction” at
Gazette File Photo
THAT CHEST HAIR? Janet Jackson’s exposed right breast,
shown here served sunny side up, grabbed as many headlines
as the Pats’ second title in three years.
NEW YORK (AP) — CBS, MTV, the NFL, Janet Jackson and
Justin Timberlake all say they’re sorry — but none
of that is deterring the United States government from looking
into the Super Bowl’s too-revealing halftime show.
Federal Communications Commission chief Michael Powell promised
an investigation into whether CBS violated decency laws, with potential
fines of up to $27,500. If applied to each CBS station, the fine
could reach into the millions.
“Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around
the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was
tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt,” Powell
said Monday in a statement.
He added in interviews Tuesday that other aspects of the racy
halftime show, which also featured such performers as Nelly and
Kid Rock, also bothered him.
“I think everybody’s focusing on the finale, but a
lot of what we’ve heard in terms of complaints and the breadth
of the investigation is a little broader than just that incident,” Powell
said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “I personally was
offended by the entire production.”
The controversy erupted Sunday when Timberlake snatched off part
of Jackson’s bustier on stage, revealing a breast clad only
in a sun-shaped “nipple shield” in front of 89 million
“This was done completely without our knowledge,” said
Chris Ender, entertainment spokesman for CBS, which was deluged
with angry calls. “It wasn’t rehearsed. It wasn’t
discussed. It wasn’t even hinted at. This is something we
would have never approved. We are angry and embarrassed.”
Jackson’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Holiner, said a red lace
garment was supposed to remain when Timberlake tore off the outer
The NFL said it was “extremely disappointed.” Several
members of Congress, the Parents Television Council and the Traditional
Values Coalition expressed outrage.
Even half-time producer and CBS corporate Viacom cousin MTV — the
network that broadcast Madonna kissing Britney Spears at last August’s
MTV Awards — was contrite.
“Unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional,” MTV
Although Timberlake issued a statement shortly after the show
apologizing and blaming the debacle on a “wardrobe malfunction,” he
didn’t seem too sorry in comments to Access Hollywood.
“Hey, man, we love giving you all something to talk about,” he
Jackson’s official website was bombarded with angry postings.
In a statement released Monday night, Jackson said it was a last-minute
stunt that went awry.
“The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my
halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV
was completely unaware of it,” she said. “It was not
my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone
offended — including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL.”
Said the FCC’s Powell on NBC’s Today: “I’m
glad everybody is sorry. I’m sorry, too; it was a sorry incident.
But if the standard were that you could do whatever you wanted
to and if you apologized the next day that ends all further inquiry,
we’d have a really poor enforcement program.”
Holiner said she was not sure whether Jackson’s medieval-looking
nipple decoration was meant to be seen, but added that the singer
does wear such jewelry.
But the display still raised questions such as: If it was an accident,
why did a choreographer promise “shocking moments” in
an interview with the website MTV.com prior to the show?
And how could it have been a coincidence when it was timed to
the words of Timberlake’s song “Rock Your Body” — “I’m
gonna have you naked by the end of this song”?
MTV Networks Group President Judy McGrath says the shocker was
supposed to be Timberlake’s appearance — and not what
he did afterward. McGrath was sitting in the audience and didn’t
see the flash, but said the pair “looked upset” afterward.
While she praised Jackson and Timberlake as artists, she said: “I
don’t appreciate someone who doesn’t communicate what
their plans are. I think it was a misguided move on their parts.”