Diane Sawyer Faces Backlash from Britney Spears Fans over 2003 Interview: 'Downright Painful'

Britney Spears' fans are furious after footage of Diane Sawyer's interview with the then 22-year-old pop star was unearthed in a new documentary

Diane Sawyer, Britney Spears
Diane Sawyer and Britney Spears. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty; Steve Granitz/WireImage

Britney Spears' fans are crying foul following the release of Framing Britney Spears.

In one portion of the New York Times documentary, the pop star's 2003 interview with journalist Diane Sawyer is highlighted as an example of sexism Spears was forced to deal with at a young age.

"You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?" Sawyer, 75, asked a then 22-year-old Spears during the interview conducted after her public split from Justin Timberlake.

Sawyer also pressed Spears on a comment made by Kendel Ehrlich, who was Maryland's first lady in 2003. In a speech at an anti-domestic violence conference that year, Ehrlich slammed Spears as a bad influence, saying: "Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would."

While Spears, 39, appeared shocked by Ehrlich's comments, Sawyer seemingly defended the former prosecutor during the interview. "It's because of the example for kids and how hard it is to be a parent," she told Spears.

A rep for ABC News did not immediately respond to a request from PEOPLE for comment.

Following the unauthorized film's release, Spears' fans expressed their anger over the interview, calling it "poor" and "disgusting."

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday. Get a taste of the podcast below.

Spears — who did not participate in the documentary — has not commented on the film's release.

Last week, her social media manager, Crowd Surf cofounder Cassie Petrey, hit back at conspiracy theories that Spears is not in control of her own social media accounts or is trying to send messages through her posts.

"She has stated many times that she creates the posts, but people continue to believe conspiracy theories over what Britney says over and over again," Petrey wrote in her Tuesday post. "Britney is not 'asking for help' or leaving secret messages in her social media. She is literally just living her life and trying to have fun on Instagram."

Related Articles