Letterman Relentlessly Presses Janet Jackson About 'Wardrobe Malfunction' In Resurfaced Clip

by Erica Gerald Mason

The host presses Jackson when she asks not to talk about her Super Bowl performance

After David Letterman’s 2013 The Late Show interview with Lindsay Lohan recently resurfaced, the interwebs have called out another of the late-night host’s problematic interviews. In a 2004 The Late Show sit-down with Janet Jackson, Letterman’s refusal to move on from her infamous Super Bowl performance was…uncomfortable to watch to say the least.

Twitter user @ryancortezz posted the old video on his feed, saying “this gives off the same vibe,” in reference to the now-viral Lindsay Lohan-Letterman interview. “I don’t know how he gets away with it,” the Twitter user adds.

“Welcome to the show,” Letterman begins. As Jackson settles into her seat, Letterman gets right to it — he points to her top and says, “now that’s almost malfunctioning, isn’t it?” Jackson smiles uncomfortably but doesn’t say anything.

“Let’s run through this,” Letterman continues. “Tell us exactly what happened from the time you got up on Super Bowl Sunday to the time the episode took place on the halftime show.”

As the crowd laughs, Janet shakes her head and laughs uncomfortably. “I don’t want to relive any of that.”

“You don’t mind if I ask you some questions about it, though?” Letterman interrupts. “First of all, you knew it was going to happen, right?”

“Oh, god can we talk about something else, please? I’ve had a day of interviews. I’m sure you guys are sick of hearing about it, I know I am,” Jackson says. She turns to the audience and looks to them for help. “Ask me about something else.”

Letterman presses for a few minutes longer before landing on his point.

“[Timberlake] grabs at a woman — you — and he pulls her thing off. That sends a very bad message to young boys in this country: that you go up to a woman, even under the guise of a show business production, and pull her thing off. You’re not supposed to behave that way.”

“Pull her thing off?” Jackson wonders.

“That’s what happened, he pulled your thing off, didn’t he?”

“My thing off?”

“Well, what did he pull off?”

“It seemed like a piece of clothing to me. It wasn’t my ‘thing’. He didn’t touch my ‘thing’.”

“It sends a bad message don’t you think?”

“Why are we talking about this right now, David?”

Letterman goes on to say that since the last time he saw Jackson, he became a father, and he didn’t like the message her halftime performance sent.

“I would not want him to see somebody — a young woman — to see somebody rip a piece of her clothing,” Letterman says, seemingly chastising her.

“To see a breast?” Jackson retorted?

“I ain’t got no problems under the right circumstances, you know,” Letterman answers. “And by the way, he sees plenty. He’s getting a lot more than Daddy.”

“Can we talk about something else,” Janet pleads one last time. “Because I don’t want to focus on my breasts.”

The body-shaming, thankfully ends there. In the next segment, Letterman tries to get Jackson to talk about her brother, Michael’s legal issues — but Jackson tells the host she can’t discuss her brother’s case. They somehow manage to get through the rest of the interview.

In better, more recent news, Janet Jackson’s hit album Control took the top spot on the charts again, 35 years after its release.

Jackson took to Twitter to thank her fans for having her back musically, but the subtext also seemed to say. “Thank you for acknowledging that what happened to me all those years ago was, so, so messed up.”

Letterman seems to have paid for the interview with his soul. Jackson hasn’t seemed to have lost hers, though. Just saying.