Roseanne dropped over racist tweet
ABC canceled its highest-rated show, Roseanne, this week, after a racist tweet by the sitcom’s star provoked outrage on social media. Roseanne Barr described Valerie Jarrett, an Iranian-born African-American who served as former President Barack Obama’s senior adviser, as if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Barr apologized for making a “bad joke,” but that failed to quell a firestorm of condemnation. Just hours after the offending tweet was posted, ABC dropped Roseanne, which averages 18 million viewers an episode. Channing Dungey, the network’s entertainment president, called the tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values.” Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Co., ABC’s corporate parent, phoned Jarrett to apologize.
A few hours after promising to leave Twitter, Barr returned to the site, retweeting statements by fans who blamed PC culture for her canning. “It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting,” Barr wrote, suggesting she was loopy from sleep medication. That excuse was widely mocked online, including by Ambien’s manufacturer, whose CEO said, “Racism is not a known side effect.” Roseanne returned to television in March after a 20-year hiatus, and President Trump repeatedly congratulated Barr—who played a Trump supporter on the show—on her high ratings. Asked whether Trump would weigh in on the cancellation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he was too busy. Not 24 hours later, Trump tweeted that Iger never called “to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.” Barr promptly retweeted him.
What the columnists said
Barr is no victim of political correctness, said Katherine Timpf in NationalReview.com. Likening an African-American woman to an ape is undeniably racist, and Barr was making “crazy statements” long before her sitcom was revived. She called 9/11 an inside job and the Boston Marathon bombing a “false-flag” operation. Barr is indeed a “toxic and troubled” personality, said David French, also in NationalReview.com. But that doesn’t make her punishment any less arbitrary. “Fire one celebrity and you can dredge up six more who’ve posted their own deranged rants.”
When you make a supporter of a bigoted president a key character in your sitcom, racism is always going to rear its head, said Roxane Gay in NYTimes.com. Trump is the “living embodiment” of Barr’s Twitter feed, and his most vocal supporters “revel in the freedom and the permission” he gives them to indulge in conspiracy theories and racism. Just before her tweeted attack on Jarrett, Barr falsely accused the Hungarian-born liberal donor George Soros of turning “in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered” during the Holocaust. That earned a retweet from Donald Trump Jr.
This is why we needed Roseanne, said Emily Jashinsky in WashingtonExaminer.com. “Roseanne Barr and Roseanne Conner are different people,” and the show’s character helped audiences understand why “decent people” gravitated toward Trump. The demographic Conner depicted is “overwhelmingly misunderstood” by Hollywood. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that Barr’s tweet confirms “the industry’s stereotypes of Trump supporters” as racist deplorables—the very stereotypes Roseanne “sought to debunk.” ■