Report: Les Moonves harbored a year-old grudge against Janet Jackson

If there’s one event we’ll never survive, it’s the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. That infamous moment when Justin Timberlake accidentally exposed Janet Jackson’s breasts to the world of viewers for a split second will live forever – as evidenced by the way it never seems to stop appearing in the national conversation. We only remembered it last month, when Timberlake signed with Jackson’s press secretary in a moment of pure irony. And now, he’s back through the ongoing saga of the head of CBS at war Les Moonves.

In an article posted on HuffPost Thursday, the sources said Yashar Ali that Moonves was furious about the scandal and for years held a grudge against Jackson in particular, obsessed with derailing his career. Moonves didn’t believe the artists’ claim that Timberlake accidentally removed both Jackson’s leather bustier and the red lace underneath; instead, he believed they planned it as a ploy to stir controversy, according to the story. And he was particularly mad at Jackson, the sources said, because he didn’t think she was sorry enough for what had happened. Both Timberlake and Jackson were banned from the 2004 Grammys, but Moonves changed his mind about Timberlake when the singer apologized in tears.

Moonves essentially blacklisted Jackson on Viacom, the report said: He ordered all of the company’s radio stations, as well as its VH1 and MTV television networks, not to play Jackson’s music. According to HuffPost, that decision led to sales of Jackson’s 2004 album, Damita Jo, which went on sale just a month after the Super Bowl. Even seven years later, Moonves reportedly did not let go of the incident; Ali reports that when Jackson signed a book deal with CBS-owned book publisher Simon & Schuster, he began to get angry again and asked to know, “How the fuck did he slip?” He reportedly told a source that he would react against whoever was responsible for the decision, but it is unclear if this ever happened.

A CBS representative declined to comment on the HuffPost report.

The relapse of “Nipplegate” unfolded very differently for Timberlake and Jackson, in ways that are impossible to ignore. Timberlake’s career continued to thrive. In fact, he’s returned to perform at the Super Bowl this year for the first time since 2004. (It aired on NBC.) Jackson, on the other hand, saw his album’s sales drop precipitously. Jackson seems to have paid a heavy price for the crime of showing the world her breasts for half a second, especially considering it was Timberlake who ripped the garment.


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