Justin Timberlake has issued an apology to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson in a new statement posted to his Instagram account. The statement follows the singer’s recent appearance in Framing Britney Spears, a New York Times documentary on Spears’ career and conservatorship battle that outlined Timberlake’s role in damaging the public perception of Spears, following their much-publicized break-up in the early-2000s. Spears was demeaned by the media after the break-up, while the film features a radio clip from around that time in which Timberlake boasted about sleeping with her.
“I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or I did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism,” he wrote. “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed.”
Timberlake has long faced criticism of his actions following the 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance with Jackson, during which Timberlake exposed Jackson’s nipple during the broadcast in what was later said to be a wardrobe malfunction. The backlash to the incident led to the blacklisting of Jackson’s music videos on MTV and the withdrawal of her invitation to the Grammy Awards later that year. Timberlake was allowed to attend (and perform) at the Grammys after issuing an apology.
In 2018, when reflecting on the incident in an interview with Zane Lowe ahead of another Super Bowl performance, Timberlake stated that he “stumbled through” what happened with Jackson. “I had my wires crossed and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go, like, ‘Ok, well you know, you can’t change what’s happened but you can move forward and learn from it,’” he said at the time. Weeks later, Jackson would publicly quell rumors that she would appear alongside Timberlake for the 2018 halftime show.
Later in the statement released today, Timberlake wrote: “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports.”