Network pulls Barr’s revived show and condemns racist tweets towards ex-Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett
This article titled “Roseanne cancelled: ABC scraps sitcom after star’s ‘abhorrent’ tweets” was written by Jake Nevins in New York and Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington, for The Guardian on Wednesday 30th May 2018 08.33 UTC
Roseanne Barr’s revived sitcom has been cancelled after she posted a racist and Islamophobic tweet that attacked former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.
The sitcom star falsely alleged that Jarrett, who was born in Iran to American parents, has connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, and compared her to an ape. Barr wrote: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” using Jarrett’s initials.
ABC swiftly announced the show’s cancellation. The network said in a statement: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”
Bob Iger, the chief executive of Disney, which owns ABC, supported the decision. Iger wrote on Twitter: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
In Australia, Network Ten announced it was pulling the sitcom from both of its channels, saying it was “appalled and disgusted” by Barr’s tweet.
Barr, one of Donald Trump’s most high-profile supporters, apologized for the post as outrage grew, and announced she’d be quitting Twitter. She also deleted the tweet.
Barr was replying to a post from a user that accused Jarrett, a long-serving adviser to the president, of covering up the Obama administration’s alleged “misdeeds”.
When a Twitter user told Barr that her tweet was offensive and racist – Jarrett is African American – Barr responded by writing: “Muslims r NOT a race.” Shortly after, Barr reiterated her stance in another post: “ISLAM is not a RACE, lefties. Islam includes EVERY RACE of people.”
Barr later apologized. She wrote: “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me – my joke was in bad taste.”
In a second statement she said: “Today my words caused hundreds of hardworking people to lose their jobs. I sincerely apologise to the audience that has embraced my work for decades.”
Barr tweeted throughout the night, at one point asking her followers not to defend her actions.
MSNBC reported that Jarrett received a call from Iger before news broke of the cancellation. “This should be a teaching moment,” she said.
Jarrett responded later on Tuesday during a town hall on race hosted by the cable news channel, saying she believed ABC made the right decision in canceling Barr’s television show.
“I’m fine,” she said at the event titled Everyday Racism in America. “I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers coming to their defense,” she said. “The person who’s walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse or walk across the street. Or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation, ‘the talk’, as we call it.”
“Those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day,” Jarrett said.
The White House declined to offer a reaction from the president, who earlier this year personally called Barr to congratulate her on the show’s ratings.
Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One there were “a lot bigger things going on in the country right now”, while adding that Trump was focused on negotiations with North Korea.
Barr’s tweets sparked condemnation from many prominent figures, including one of the sitcom’s consulting producers, Wanda Sykes, who announced that she would not be returning for the proposed second season.
Barr’s co-star Sara Gilbert, who plays Darlene, condemned the tweets as “abhorrent”. Gilbert wrote: “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.”
The 65-year-old Barr has been in the public eye recently after her eponymous sitcom returned after a two-decade hiatus. The now-cancelled show was ABC’s most-watched “new” series, averaging almost 18 million viewers per episode. In the show, Roseanne Conner plays a working-class Trump supporter, but Barr herself has not been shy about her allegiance to the president, frequently engaging with his critics online and peddling conspiracy theories shared by Trump’s base, such as “Pizzagate”, “Pedogate” and theories about the murder of former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.
Barr on Monday also attacked Chelsea Clinton on Twitter, writing “Chelsea Soros Clinton” and claiming the former first daughter is connected to George Soros. Barr said Soros wants to “overthrow” the “US constitutional republic by buying/backing candidates 4 local district attorney races who will ignore US law & favor ‘feelings’ instead-and call everyone who is alarmed by that ‘racist’.”
Barr also retweeted a post comparing Clinton to Donkey from Shrek.
After Clinton replied with a tweet of her own, Barr apologized in sarcastic fashion. “Sorry to have tweeted incorrect info about you!,” she wrote, again invoking Soros, a frequent target of Trump and the right. “I Please forgive me! By the way, George Soros is a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth-were you aware of that? But, we all make mistakes, right Chelsea?”
A spokesperson for Soros called the tweet “an affront”.
After her tweets and the outrage that followed, Barr announced she was quitting the site. “I apologize,” she wrote. “I am now leaving Twitter.”
News of Roseanne’s cancellation was met with cautious positivity in Hollywood. Actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani tweeted: “I’m glad Roseanne is canceled. The backlash to its cancellation is going to be a deafening nightmare. Nothing good has come of this entire thing.”
Bruce Helford, the Roseanne show’s executive producer and showrunner, said he was “horrified” by the comments.
Barr has also been dropped by her agency ICM Partners, which stated that her tweet was “antithetical to our core values”.
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