Inside the Wild Aftermath of Janet Jackson’s Wardrobe Malfunction

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While CBS was hit with a $550,000 fine for the incident—the largest ever of its kind—by the FCC, the Third Circuit Court would rule in the network’s favor in 2008, saying the FCC “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” by levying such a fine for what the Court deemed to be an accidental split-second of nudity. A year later, the Supreme Court would opt not to hear the case, sending it back to the Third Circuit for re-examination. By 2011, the Court had ruled again in CBS’ favor.

In January 2014, Powell, who’d left his position as FCC chairman at this point, admitted that the committee acted “unfairly” toward Jackson, telling ESPN that the committee overreacted. “I personally thought that was really unfair. It all turned into being about her,” he said. “In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplate.”

While the incident wreaked havoc on Jackson’s career for years, there was at least one positive residual development from the whole mess. In the immediate aftermath, a young software programmer at PayPal named Jawed Karim, frustrated over his inability to find any video of the performance on the internet, teamed up with some friends to create a venue where people can easily upload and share video. And in 2005, YouTube was born.

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