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  •  A TRUE STORY: (12+ / 0-)

    The Place: Roseville, Michigan
    The Date: February 1, 2004
    The Event: Dean for America Campaign Rally/Fundraiser

    The Backstory: This was after the infamous "Iowa scream" caucus incident, but just before Michigan's own "firehouse" caucus. Dean's campaign had taken two mortal blows in a row: First, of course, the Iowa incident, followed by New Hampshire, but he was still trying to turn things around, and the excitement among his Michigan supporters was still palpable, if a bit desperate. The rally took place during the first half of the Superbowl, so naturally the fundraiser had a Superbowl theme. Basically, after the rally, for a $50 donation to his campaign, you could join Dean, his staffers and other supporters to eat munchies and watch the halftime show on a big-screen TV. Dean was sitting at a table signing autographs for supporters, while a gaggle of media photographers are clustered nearby.

    So, I'm in line to get my ballot autographed (the MDP allowed advance online voting that year, so I printed out my ballot with Dean's name checked off and brought it with me). I get to the table, shake Dean's hand, tell him I'm a big fan and give him my ballot to sign.

    He's right in the middle of giving me his autograph, when we hear a big commotion over on the big TV to the side. Both of us look over at the same time and see...

    Janet Jackson's nipple.

    Yep, that's right--I got to witness the legendary Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Superbowl "wardrobe malfunction" live while standing next to Howard Dean.

    The two of us turned our heads back to each other and gave one another a quizzical, confused look for a moment. He then shrugged it off and finished signing his autograph.

    A day or two later, in the midst of the "Nipplegate" brouhaha, I read that Dean was asked for his opinion of the whole frenzy. He responded, effectively, that as a doctor, he's seen thousands of nipples, so he didn't see what all the fuss was about.

    Here was his actual response:

    02/03/04 Dean Calls FCC Probe of Breast Incident 'Silly'

    Howard Dean, a physician and a Democratic presidential candidate, on Monday dismissed as "silly" a government inquiry into whether indecency rules were broken during the broadcast of the Super Bowl halftime show when pop diva Janet Jackson's bodice was ripped to expose her right breast. "I find that to be a bit of a flap about nothing," the former Vermont governor said. "I'm probably affected in some ways by the fact that I'm a doctor, so it's not exactly an unusual phenomenon for me."

    Kudos to you, Dr. Dean, for keeping this silly incident in proper perspective.

    And props to myself for having the good (weird) fortune to happen to be at the exact juncture point of two of the most notable events of that particular time in our national popular culture: Howard Dean's 2004 Presidential Campaign, and Janet Jackson's...nipple.

    It was, by far, the single most surreal political-related experience I've had to date.

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