Britney's Booty Shakes Up ABC's Morning News

Forget updates on terrorist attacks in India, Obama's cabinet picks, or even the recession.  ABC's Good Morning America devoted most of its second hour on Tuesday, December 2 to promoting Britney Spears's newly released album, shamelessly shopping for ratings with an exclusive “concert” by the singer. 

Spears provocatively performed two singles from the album, “Circus,” which hit stores Tuesday.

Rather than inform viewers about the news, GMA introduced them to Spears's rear end, more than an inch of which was hanging out of her costume. ABC's Sam Champion went out of his way to show a young fan on camera sporting a t-shirt with a picture of Spears cupping her breasts.

GMA usually runs a 20 minute segment featuring artists during the last half hour of the show, but they went far beyond the usual treatment for Spears.  ABC has been hyping the “concert event” for weeks, and even featured an on-screen countdown graphic. 

Hosts Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts “oohed” and “aawed” over the “thousands of people” who turned out for the 27-year-old's highly anticipated birthday bash at the Big Apple Circus in New York City. “More than 60 million albums sold,” cooed an excited Roberts. “Four consecutive number one albums…The wait is finally over… Britney Spears performs only on 'GMA.'”

ABC News has become a publicity machine for the singer, whose rocky past includes two failed marriages, public meltdowns, hospitalization and custody battles for her two sons. ABC's 20/20 premiered her highly sexualized single “Womanizer” on October 10. 

Toward the end of the 45-minute feature, the hosts played video clips of stars like Hugh Jackman, Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift blowing Spears birthday kisses and ended with a six-tier circus-themed birthday cake.

ABC wasn't the only network to highlight the pop icon's new album. MTV, arguably a more fitting venue for a Spears promotion, aired a one hour documentary “Britney: For the Record,” on November 30.  MTV attracted a whopping 3.7 million viewers in a “report” that blatantly endorsed the new record by weaving it into all aspects of the documentary.

Is the album worth all the fuss?  Not according to Washington Post writer Chris Richards, who takes a swipe at “Circus”: “…Spears rattles off the misbehavior anthems -- songs whose lyrics are good for a giggle at best.”


Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute.