Diane Sawyer has found herself on the receiving end of backlash from Britney Spears fans after a 2003 interview she conducted with a then 21-year-old Spears was featured in the new New York Times Presents documentary Framing Britney Spears, which premiered on Hulu on Friday. The interview was used as an example of the harsh treatment, sexism and misogyny Spears faced throughout essentially her entire career, and began with Sawyer asking Spears about her recent breakup with Justin Timberlake.
Sawyer appeared to side with the former boy band member, who had been discussing the split in the media and painting himself as the wronged party. "You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?" Sawyer asked. Spears, who was clearly uncomfortable, replied, "I think we were both really young, and it was kind of meant to happen, and I will always love him. He will always have a special place in my heart."
Following that, Sawyer mentioned that Spears had "disappointed a lot of mothers in this country" and showed her a quote from Kendall Ehrlich, who was then the First Lady of Maryland and was quoted as saying, "Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would." Spears appeared shocked by the message while Sawyer seemingly defended Ehrlich, telling the singer, "It's because of the example for kids and how hard it is to be a parent."
Diane Sawyer asked Britney Spears what she did to cause Justin pain, then told her the Governor of Maryland’s wife wanted to shoot her, implying it’s Britney’s fault because she’s a bad role model to kids. I don’t care how long has passed-Diane Sawyer should be ashamed of herself— Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) February 9, 2021
At that, Spears pointed out that she is "not here to, you know, babysit her kids." After the documentary premiered, the singer's fans used social media to criticize Sawyer for the interview, with one person tweeting, "Absolutely disgusting. Misogyny executed by another woman. No wonder Britney seems so lost. We all betrayed her by allowing that narrative."
"There’s lots to discuss in this Britney Spears doc, but feels like much more time needs to be devoted to the part where a politician’s wife says Britney should be SHOT for the way she dresses and respected journalist Diane Sawyer is like 'well, she’s a concerned mother,'" another shared. Several people wrote that they would like to see Sawyer apologize to Spears. "Diane Sawyer owes Britney Spears a thousand apologies," one tweet read. Another added, "Diane Sawyer owes Britney Spears a sincere apology." The full interview sees Sawyer asking Spears even more invasive questions, including discussing Spears' sex life and criticizing her clothing choices. Spears has not publicly commented on the documentary.