In wake of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, people are calling out media figures for their treatment of the pop icon in the early aughts. Some, like Diane Sawyer, are coming under fire. But amid this reckoning, Craig Ferguson stands out as someone who “got it” at the time.
Ferguson’s monologue in a 2007 episode of The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson has gone viral; in it, he speaks candidly about his own journey from suicidal thoughts to sobriety. He makes it clear he doesn’t find it funny that a young person like Spears has to endure so much public scrutiny. “She’s a baby,” he says, in a plea for compassion.
When he brings Anna Nicole Smith, who passed away shortly before this monologue aired, into the conversation, Ferguson’s audience laughs, probably a knee-jerk reaction from hearing her mocked so often by the press. But he doesn’t.
In the monologue, Ferguson says that everyone, struggling or not, should be responsible for their actions and held accountable for what they do. But he urges the media to treat celebrities as human beings—a radical, novel concept at the time. It’s unfortunate that Ferguson was the exception in 2007, not the standard.
After a Britney Spears fan account resurfaced a clip from the monologue, it quickly went viral on Twitter, with many people agreeing with Ferguson’s sentiments.
It’s especially notable that Ferguson gave this mini-speech in 2007. There can be a tendency to attribute callous attitudes to “the times,” a general feeling that “we know better now.” But Ferguson proves there have always been people who looked at Spears with compassion, and they weren’t just the “Leave Britney alone!”-type fans. (Chris Crocker was right, y’all.) “It was 2007” is no longer an excuse. In a world of Perez Hiltons, be a Craig Ferguson.