The release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, which paid special attention to the capricious media treatment she received throughout her career, has led many to reflect on the sexism some of her contemporaries endured around that time.
In particular, a 2013 interview between David Letterman and Lindsay Lohan has drawn criticism from users on TikTok and Twitter, who are now calling out the talk show host for probing into the actress’s personal life.
“Now, aren’t you supposed to be in rehab?” the former Late Show host asked Lohan, who appeared on the show to promote an upcoming film.
After revealing the date she was set to enter rehab, the host followed up with a rapid slew of questions about her recovery, including how many times she’s been to rehab and how this time will be different.
“What are they rehab-ing? What is on their list? What are they going to work on when you walk through the door?” Letterman continued, to laughter from the audience.
Lohan, visibly uncomfortable, said that the topic of rehab was not broached in the pre-interview, but allowed that rehab would be an “opportunity to focus on what I love in life.”
But Letterman continued to prod, asking if she had “addiction problems” and if she was going to rehab for alcohol use.
“You can’t make a joke of it, that’s so mean,” the actress responded.
“This is vile on so many levels. The misogyny. The blindsiding. The stigma of addiction & rehab,” producer Frank Costa commented. “The hypocrisy of wanting people to recover, but then judging how they choose do so. I hope Lindsay Lohan knows how loved she is. The world has treated her and many others so unfairly.”
At the end of the segment, which another Twitter user highlighted in a clip, Letterman praised Lohan for being able to go on the show and sit through his comments. Letterman’s reps did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
Another commenter said that Letterman’s 2004 interview with Janet Jackson “gives off the same vibes.” In the video, the host repeatedly pressed her on her Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, despite her apparent discomfort. The resurfaced Letterman interviews come in stark contrast to another late-night host’s monologue that’s been making the social media rounds since the release of Framing Britney Spears. Social media users have revisited a Late Late Show clip from 2007, wherein former host Craig Ferguson explained why he wouldn’t be making light of Spears’ personal life, telling his audience, “We shouldn’t be attacking the vulnerable people.”
Meanwhile, due to public scrutiny surrounding the documentary, the #FreeBritney movement, and his past comments about Spears and Jackson, Justin Timberlake issued an apology to both women on Friday.
“I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or 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 of misogyny and racism,” the singer-actor wrote in a statement posted to his Instagram. “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.”