Anna Nicole Smith Press Coverage: How the Playboy Star Compares to Britney Spears

With a spotlight on how some major press outlets that covered Britney Spears’ mental health could have aggravated her personal setbacks — and how those setbacks were in turn covered by the same outlets for handsome profits — it feels appropriate to talk about Playboy star, Anna Nicole Smith.

Some members of the press were arguably unkind to her before and after her death. Smith’s success was remarkable, but a major name in news discredited her “claim” to fame just days after she died. Years later, Spears remarked about that outlet’s “hypocritical” documentary regarding hurtful press coverage of her.

But being targeted for negative spin by the mainstream media isn’t the only disturbing similarity the two stars have. New revelations about lengths taken to control Spears raise questions about how close she could have been to succumbing to the same fate as Smith.

Anna Nicole Smith smiling in white.
Anna Nicole Smith | L. Cohen/WireImage

A major outlet critiqued Anna Nicole Smith’s fame immediately after her death

Smith, 1993 Playmate of the Year, appeared unashamed of her rags to riches fame during her life. But she had a seemingly complicated relationship with the press. She once said in an interview that she loved the paparazzi.

However, some prominent media outlets hounded her with negative coverage. It seemed like everything was fair game for viciousness. From her relationship with and marriage to an elderly billionaire, to her attempts to collect from his estate after his death, to her perceived role as a laughable airhead.

Some members of the press even scrutinized her mental health and sobriety leading up to her death at 39. One New York Times article went so far as to harshly critique her fame in the days after she died with a headline that read, “Why did we watch? The answer isn’t pretty.”

The article might come off to some readers as harshly callous. The writer explicitly suggested Smith had no “actual career to back up her claim on the public.”

Smith was famous as a Playboy pin-up and reality star with a loyal fan following. The public awarded her with fascination, and it was debatable to say she simply took it by claim. Even 14 years after her death, she still has a present fanbase.

Some of the negative press coverage of Smith and Spears is comparable, but sometimes the reporting was directly related. Following Smith’s death, another big outlet suggested Spears’ life was on the same path to “ruins.”

Fox News compared Britney Spears to the late playmate

Britney Spears in front of black background
Britney Spears | Michelangelo Di Battista/Sony/RCA/Getty Images

Spears may have appeared to lose a few media battles, but it looks like she could win the war against hurtful press. A conversation that seemed to come to the forefront in recent years is about how much negative coverage could have assisted in enacting such a seemingly oppressive conservatorship.

Some outlets created damaging narratives about her mental health and ability to parent her young sons. Now, fans wonder why none of the prominent outlets that scrutinized the young singer used their influence to encourage helpful intervention on her behalf.

Notably, Spears said that the NYT documentary “Framing Britney Spears” — about how the press framed her — was “so hypocritical.” In 2008, the outlet published an article which described an emotional incident involving Spears and the custody of her sons. The NYT revealed intimate details of the events leading up to that hospitalization, and also Spears’ custody arrangement.

Fox News ran a headline in 2008 that read, “Life of Britney Spears, like that of Anna Nicole Smith, in ruins.” The problematic title seemed to doom the pop star to a tragic end – which thankfully didn’t come.

Now, it’s becoming clear that those involved in the Spears conservatorship may have gone to great lengths to restrain the pop star. This is where her story again parallels Smith’s, and in much more dangerous territory considering how Smith’s life ended

Former Britney Spears security team member said they were giving her pre-packaged packets of pills

A former Spears security team member said in NYT’s “Controlling Britney Spears” that staff were at one point receiving envelopes of pills to give her. It isn’t clear what medications the singer received in those packages. However, she once claimed her therapist forced her to take Lithium.

Fans have questions about the prescriptions and whether they were creating danger for her. Notably, Smith reportedly took nine different medications in the days before her 2007 death, which was recorded as an accidental overdose.

Spears is still around with a faithful fan following and is seemingly breaking free from the harsh legal oversight over her life being led by her father. So, fans can hope that any tragic similarities between her and Smith are all in the past. 

RELATED: Larry Birkhead Reveals the Heartbreaking Final Words Anna Nicole Smith Said to Him — ‘She Started Crying About It’