JACKSON TIMBERLAKE
David Phillip  /  AP
Entertainer Janet Jackson, left, covers her breast after her outfit came undone during the half time performance with Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl  Sunday Feb. 1, 2004.
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updated 2/3/2004 1:32:53 PM ET 2004-02-03T18:32:53

Well, look it a this way, in an incredible role reversal, a Jackson is accused of having their clothes intentionally ripped off them by a boy. 

Quoting Justin Timberlake, “I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime of the Super Bowl.  It was not intentional and is regrettable.” 

Justin, did you say all that?  What a guy. 

On Monday night, Janet Jackson says it was all her fault that the costume reveal at the end of the number was only supposed to reveal a red lace garment under the bodice.  "The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was make after final rehearsals," the statement, which is on the MTV Web site. "MTV was completely unaware of it.  It was not my intention that it go as far as it did."

Unfortunately, two prominent sources, one in television entertainment, one in television sports, tell COUNTDOWN that they were informed long before it happened, that Janet Jackson‘s breast or breasts would be bared briefly during the Super Bowl halftime show.  The sources said it was not at all clear that the actual producers in charge of the CBS telecast knew in advance.  But, the song Timberlake was singing contained lyrics suggesting that the hearer would be naked before it was over. 

As of midnight on Monday, MTV, the cable network that produced the disaster was still congratulating itself for the stunt on the web site.  It had last week promised, "shocking moments" at the halftime show.  MTV and CBS have both denied it was preplanned, MTV and CBS are both part of the same media corporation, Viacom.  The Federal Communications Commission is investigating. 

Janet Jackson‘s statement on the MTV website not only absolves them, but it also affixes a time for the decision as after the final rehearsal, which would leave no room for prearrangement. It has got everything but a waiver of liability the indemnifies Viacom Inc. and all of its subsidiaries, and especially Kurt Loder.

What is it from her, though?  Was it the proverbial cry for help?  Or was she taking a hit for her brother by throwing herself on the grenade as the weirdest Jackson of the day?

And oh, by the way, the number of people who watched was apparently the largest in Super Bowl history: 140 million in this country alone.  The National Football League is livid.   That would be the same National Football League that three decades ago introduced the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders who have never been as covered up as was Miss Jackson Sunday night. 

The flash could not have come at a more delicate moment in the struggle over where the line should be drawn about what you see and hear on broadcast television. The Jackson event was like the proverbial spark over the tinder box.  Just last week, the FCC set a record fine of $755,000 for the crudities of a Florida radio announcer.  Days earlier, for the second year running, a major Hollywood figure, this time, Diane Keaton, swore live on the telecast of an awards program.  The commission is under intense pressure from conservatives and from not-at-all conservatives to forcibly clean up broadcast TV. 

However much that pressure was yesterday, it's probably now double. 

This was the No. 5 story on 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' Monday night. 'Countdown' airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET

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