Les Moonves Tried to Destroy Janet Jackson's Career After Super Bowl Mishap, Report Alleges
A new report alleges that CBS CEO Les Moonves tried to destroy Janet Jackson's career after Justin Timberlake exposed her breast on live TV during the 2004 Super Bowl
Les Moonves, the CEO and chairman of CBS, allegedly sought to ruin the career of Janet Jackson following her now-infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, which aired on the network, according to a new report from the Huffington Post.
Several sources claimed to the outlet that Moonves — who was recently accused of sexual misconduct by six women — allegedly took specific steps to limit Jackson’s future album sales and prevented her from attending the 2004 Grammy Awards because she didn’t apologize to him enough.
During the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 1 of that year, Justin Timberlake ripped off a piece of Jackson’s bustier onstage and her breast was exposed on live television for roughly half a second.
CBS and its production partner MTV — both owned by Viacom at the time — received a $550,000 fine from the FCC as a result, and Moonves reportedly became obsessed with Jackson’s career for years afterward.
The network declined to comment to PEOPLE on the Huffington Post report. Neither Jackson’s reps nor Timberlake’s reps immediately responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment. The Recording Academy also did not immediately return a request for comment.
Despite Jackson, 52, and Timberlake, 37, both asserting that only a piece of red lace was supposed to be revealed, sources told the Huffington Post that Moonves allegedly believed the pair wanted to strike up controversy, and in response he reportedly banned them both from the Grammys, which would air on CBS the next week. But Timberlake ended up attending and performing allegedly because he cried as he apologized to Moonves, sources told the outlet.
Because Jackson reportedly didn’t follow suit, Moonves allegedly told VH1, MTV and Viacom-owned radio stations not to play her music. Her album released in March 2004, Damita Jo, was her lowest-selling since 1984, according to Billboard.
Meanwhile, since 2004, Timberlake’s solo career has been hugely successful. He even, again, performed on the Super Bowl stage (alone) in 2018.
According to the Huffington Post report, Moonves was angered again by Jackson’s 2011 book, True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself, published by Simon & Schuster, which has been owned by CBS since 2006.
A source told Huffington Post that Moonves reportedly said, “How the f— did she slip through?” after finding out about Jackson’s book deal.
In an investigative report from Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker published in late July, six women — including actress Illeana Douglas and writer Janet Jones — who professionally dealt with Moonves between the 1980s and late aughts accused him of sexual misconduct.
“Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that … Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers,” Farrow wrote. “All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”
RELATED VIDEO: CBS CEO Les Moonves Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 6 Women, Including Actress Illeana Douglas
In a previous statement to The New Yorker, Moonves admitted to acting inappropriately in the past.
“Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances,” he said.
“Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that ‘no’ means ‘no,’ and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone’s career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution,” he continued.