The recent documentary Framing Britney Spears has brought up a lot of memories of how young women were frequently torn apart by the media in the 2000s. There was Britney, Jessica Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, and don’t forget the way Janet Jackson got did dirty by Mr. Justin Timberlake.
Now, people are looking again at an old interview of Paris Hilton by David Letterman.
If you were old enough to be aware of her during her heyday, Paris Hilton was The Party Girl of the era, and her antics were widely covered everywhere, even though she wasn’t really a pop star.
She did have her own TV show, and various lifestyle lines, like a perfume which she thought she’d be able to promote on Letterman’s show.
But when she went on air, he didn’t really ask about her projects. Instead, he grilled her about her recent 45 day stint in jail for driving under the influence.
Letterman’s questions are extremely invasive, demanding to know what she learned from the experience, what she ate while in jail, if she still drank alcohol, if her friends treated her differently. Hilton is clearly uncomfortable, even seeming to tear up at times and only able to deliver monosyllabic answers.
In an interview with EOnline, Hilton spoke about the infamous encounter.
She said Letterman had promised not to bring up her jail time and she begged him during the commercial breaks to lay off.
“I was just getting so uncomfortable and I was so upset,” she said. “Just being up there, it was like he was purposefully trying to humiliate me. And during commercial breaks I’d look at him, like please stop doing this. You promised me you wouldn’t talk about this and that’s the only reason I agreed to come on the show.”
This isn’t even the first time that Letterman has seemed to want to publicly humiliate a young woman on air during that time:
Letterman had the late-night market almost cornered, so most people went on his show and just endured. But after that encounter, Hilton swore never again.
“It was just very cruel and very mean,” she said. “And after it ended I looked at him and I said I’m never coming on the show again. You’ve crossed the line.”
That wasn’t true. She did return, supposedly after he apologized and sent her a case of wine. Letterman has since retired, and there’s not much to do about how he used to treat his guests. At least we’re no longer pretending it was okay.