ABC Cancels Reboot Of 'Roseanne' After Comedian's Racist Tweet

May 30, 2018
Originally published on May 30, 2018 10:56 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett says she is hoping to turn attention to, quote, "ordinary examples of racism that happen every day." That was her response yesterday evening to a racist tweet written about her by the TV actor Roseanne Barr. The tweet, which Barr deleted, read, quote, "Muslim Brotherhood and 'Planet Of The Apes' had a baby equals VJ."

Here is Jarrett responding to the controversy last night on MSNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "EVERYDAY RACISM IN AMERICA")

VALERIE JARRETT: I'm fine. I'm worried about all the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense.

GREENE: OK. After this, ABC has decided to cancel the "Roseanne" revival. This was just hours after she posted that tweet.

I want to bring in NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. And Eric, we should note, Roseanne Barr apologized for this on Twitter - although she spent part of the night retweeting fans who were defending her. So what do you make of that?

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Yeah. She also claimed in a tweet that she was, quote, "Ambien tweeting" - whatever that means - and also continued apologizing. There was this weird...

GREENE: Oh, talking about the sleeping medication, potentially?

DEGGANS: Exactly, exactly. And there was this weird dissonance between her telling her fans in her own tweets that she was apologizing, that they shouldn't blame ABC, that they shouldn't organize a boycott or get too upset about this - but also retweeting a lot of people who were criticizing ABC and other people who've criticized her and criticizing the cancellation of the show. So just another example of how inconsistent and unpredictable her Twitter feed can be.

GREENE: So this is not the first time she has tweeted something or remarked something controversial. I mean, she's even had bigoted tweets in the past. ABC had to know, in a way, what they were getting into - right? - with this revival and knowing who they were working with. So what - tell me more about the network's decision at this moment.

DEGGANS: Right. Well, CNN has had a report where they said that ABC execs convened early in the morning West Coast time on Tuesday to sort of figure out what they were going to do and had concluded that this was not the first time that they'd had to deal with a troublesome tweet from her and this had gone too far. People have pointed out that she has in the past - back in 2013, she posted a tweet that compared Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser for Obama, compared her to an ape in a way and had also said, you know, things about Islam that were insulting.

So she has had a history of doing this. She has joked in the past about how her son has scrubbed some of her more troublesome tweets from Twitter. And I was at a press conference in January with ABC execs and producers from the show and the cast. And they seemed to try to downplay what she was doing as sort of, well, that's just Roseanne being Roseanne. But I think at some point, it just crossed a line for ABC.

GREENE: And I guess it's noteworthy - in the last 24 hours, we've seen her cast mates not defending her in the way they normally do.

DEGGANS: Yeah. That's changed, too. Sara Gilbert, an executive producer on the show and co-star, put out a tweet criticizing it. Wanda Sykes, a comic who had served as a consulting producer on the show, had put out a tweet saying she wasn't going to be on the next season of the show before it even got canceled. And another actress who worked on the show had put up a tweet saying she was going to quit. She was calling her agent to quit, and then her agent told her the show had been canceled. So yes, they have not been defending her in the way that they had in the past.

GREENE: All right, that was NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.