During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake ripped away Janet Jackson’s top and briefly exposed her breast to a gigantic television audience. The FCC fined Super Bowl broadcaster CBS $550,000 after the incident. You probably already know about that. But what you probably don’t know is that Les Moonves, the longtime CEO and chairman of CBS, spent years fixated on Jackson, doing whatever he could to ruin her career.
According to the Huffington Post, “multiple sources” have told stories about Moonves, who is now facing a series of sexual-misconduct accusations, tried his best to ruin Jackson, believing that she wasn’t apologetic enough. And for the 2004 Grammies, which CBS broadcast, Moonves initially banned both Jackson and Timberlake from appearing, though he later allowed Timberlake to perform after Timberlake offered a tearful apology.
The Huffington Post also claims that Moonves, furious at not getting a similar apology from Jackson, banned MTV, VH1, and all Viacom-owned radio stations from playing Jackson, which destroyed any potential sales of her 2004 album Damita Jo. Some sources believe Moonves was centrally important in making sure blame for the Super Bowl incident fell on Jackson rather than Timberlake. And sources also claim that Moonves was still angry when, seven years after the Super Bowl, Jackson signed a book deal with the Viacom-owned Simon & Schuster.
UPDATE 9/10: CNN reports that Moonves has stepped down from his role at CBS amidst numerous sexual harassment allegations.