Britney Spears

Everyone Is Mad at Diane Sawyer Over a 20-Year-Old Britney Spears Interview

A growing legion of celebrities are joining the #FreeBritney movement as fans expressing support for Britney Spears following the release of a New York Times doc that details her stratospheric rise to fame and crushing fall

Diane Sawyer has some explaining to do.

But to be fair, she's not alone. The esteemed journalist is just one of many feeling the heat following the release of the blistering documentary, "The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears," which aired last Friday on FX and is currently streaming on Hulu.

From Sarah Jessica Parker to Bette Midler to Courtney Love Cobain a growing legion of celebrities are joining fans expressing support for Spears following the explosive doc which details her stratospheric rise to fame, battles with the paparazzi, subsequent mental breakdown and the conservatorship that followed, which she's still struggling to escape 12 years later.

What is a Conservatorship?

A conservator is a guardian or protector appointed by a judge to manage the financial affairs and/or daily life of another person due to physical or mental limitations, or old age. Spears has been under a conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, dating back to her psychiatric hospitalization in 2008, granting him the legal right to make decisions about her personal finances. As a result, her father controls her estimated $59 million fortune.

Daily News front page February 18, 2007, Headline: BRITNEY SHEARS, Shocking pix as superstar teeters on edge of a breakdown.

In November, Spears lost a bid to remove her father from her conservatorship, though the judge did not rule out future petitions for his removal or suspension.

Spears' ongoing fight against her father has inspired a #FreeBritney campaign, a movement led by Spears’ diehard fans who believe she is being controlled by her father against her will. #FreeBritney has gone viral on social media, and her fans have joined in protest outside of courthouse proceedings.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Supporters of Britney Spears gather outside a courthouse in downtown for a #FreeBritney protest as a hearing regarding Spears' conservatorship is in session on August 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

In addition to how Spears landed in a conservatorship, the doc also sheds light on how Spears was treated by members of the media. She was repeatedly quizzed on her physical anatomy (one cringeworthy talk show host awkwardly asks the singer about her breasts), sex life and intimate relationships. A now infamous interview with Diane Sawyer is being slammed as both exploitive and sexist as the journalist quizzed Spears on her breakup with Justin Timberlake.

"You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?" Sawyer, 75, asked a then 22-year-old Spears.

Sawyer also pressed Spears on a comment made by Kendel Ehrlich, who was Maryland's first lady in 2003. In a speech at an anti-domestic violence conference that year, Ehrlich slammed Spears as a bad influence, saying: "Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would."

Sawyer seemingly defended the former prosecutor during the interview. "It's because of the example for kids and how hard it is to be a parent," she told Spears.

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As Spears' battle to end her conservatorship works its way through the courts, a host of celebs have come to her defense expressing their outrage.

Valerie Bertinelli, who got her start as a young teen on "One Day at a Time," added her support to the movement on Twitter. "Makes me crazy grateful for my parents and how they protected me as a young girl in this insane business #FreeBritney," she wrote.

"Pretty Little Liars" actor Lucy Hale shared a tribute to Spears and posted a video showing "Baby One More Time" streaming from her TV.

"Watched Framing Britney last night & all I can say is we all owe this woman an apology for mocking her emotional pain and trauma all these years," Hale wrote on her Instagram story. "Britney Spears was my idol growing up & still is in some ways, She was my first viewing of how a woman could be sexy without apologies. This should really make us re-evaluate cancel culture & all the taboos that come along with mental health/illness."

Talk show host Tamron Hall added, "Finally watched the “Framing of Britney Spears” on Hulu. It’s an understatement to call it heartbreaking. #FreeBritney