Britney Spears: Resurfaced Diane Sawyer interview from 2003 angers fans in wake of new documentary

Sawyer has received backlash for the way she questioned Spears, who was then 21 years old

Annabel Nugent
Wednesday 10 February 2021 09:50 GMT

An interview between Diane Sawyer and Britney Spears has resurfaced in the wake of a new documentary about the singer. 

Framing Britney Spears, which has been described as “heartbreaking” by viewers, examines the pop star’s career and the #FreeBritney movement that campaigns against her ongoing conservatorship.

Since its debut on Saturday (6 February), viewers have taken to social media to share their support for the singer, with many calling out ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake for how he treated Spears. 

Much of Framing Britney documents how the media hounded the pop star, highlighting the way tabloids reported and even contributed to her public breakdowns in 2007 and 2008. 

The documentary has also led to the resurfacing of an interview Sawyer conducted with Spears in November 2003, when the singer was 21 years old. 

Fans have now turned their focus on Sawyer for the ways in which she questioned the singer about her sex life and the manner in which she framed Spears’ public break-up with Timberlake in 2002.

One moment sees Sawyer inform Spears that Kendel Ehrlich, the wife of Maryland’s former governor Robert Ehrlich, said: “Really if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would.” 

Spears appears visibly upset and responds: “Oh, that’s horrible. That’s really bad.” However, Sawyer appeared to sympathise with Ehrlich’s comments, stating that they were made “because of the example for kids and how hard it is to be a parent and keep all of this away from your kids”. 

RELATED: People spent years taking photos of Britney Spears. But did they ever actually look?

Sawyer continued her line of questioning by bringing up examples of “highly explicit” images of Spears, and asking whether or not the star thinks about how her young fans might respond, to which Spears replies: “Am I responsible for them?” 

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The broadcaster has also attracted criticism for accusing Spears of being “unfaithful” to Timberlake during their relationship and causing their break-up. “You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?” she asks, before pressing Spears to reveal intimate details of her private life on national TV. 

Sawyer also brought up the topic of Spears’ virginity in the interview, pointing out that the singer had once said she intended not to have sex until she was married.

Fans have watched the resurfaced clip and taken to social media to condemn Sawyer for the interview. One wrote: “I’m sorry, why is Diane Sawyer defending someone who threatened to shoot Britney Spears?”

“Watching that @britneyspears movie reminded me how badly women were treated in the 1990s, like the innate misogyny was incredible,” added another. 

Someone else said: “I was probably around 15 when this interview came out and it makes me furious for Britney and for all the girls who were exposed to that stew of misogyny and sexual shaming. It was so damaging.” 

“Diane Sawyer made it sound reasonable that the First Lady of Maryland wanted to shoot Britney Spears because being a parent is hard,” wrote a fourth user.  

The Independent has contacted a representative of Sawyer's for comment.

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