If you haven’t heard about Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets and ABC cancelling her show despite it being their highest-rated comedy of the year, you’ve got some serious catching up to do.
In short, Monday night, Barr – apparently while on Ambien – tweeted and then deleted a racist post about former Obama aid Valerie Jarrett, who is African American. Barr’s tweet read: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby vj.”
Roseanne has been known to tweet racist and bigoted commentaries and peddle conspiracy theories on her personal account. Her show has become a weekly source of controversy in the current American zeitgeist and it looks like ABC had just had enough. A little controversy improves ratings, but supporting your star when she makes blatantly racist comments is just bad press. And immoral.
ABC announced Tuesday that they would be cancelling the second season of Roseanne (which was ordered the day after the show premiered). Disney CEO Bob Iger also personally called Valerie Jarrett to apologize and tell her that Disney and ABC in no way condone Barr’s comments. That didn’t sit well with a lot of Roseanne fans, especially one of her biggest, most outspoken and (admittedly) most powerful fans – Donald J. Trump.
There are few times in our lives when we are presented with choices that have a very clear “right” and “wrong” answer. For example, when neo-Nazis pop up, there is a “right” and “wrong” response. It would be a slam dunk for the White House to just say, “Nazis are bad.” But just like he did when it came to Charlottesville, Donald Trump bypassed the obvious answer – condemning Barr’s racist tweet – and opted for something more convoluted and MUCH less appropriate.
Instead of severing ties with Barr, he went after Iger on Twitter for his apology to Jarrett. He called out the Disney executive for the supposed “Double Standard” where he apologized to Jarrett for a crude and racist comment made about her by someone associated with the company, but not to Trump for the “HORRIBLE statements” made about him on ABC.
Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that “ABC does not tolerate comments like those” made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
Iger, where is my call of apology? You and ABC have offended millions of people, and they demand a response. How is Brian Ross doing? He tanked the market with an ABC lie, yet no apology. Double Standard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2018
So we’re back to the authoritarian argument here. A leader needs to be criticised and scrutinized in order to be kept in check. Any criticism from ABC is the definition of freedom of speech – whether it’s Jimmy Kimmel railing on the president or ABC News calling out a lie – those people are protected. Trump doesn’t get an apology when people say offensive things about him because a country where the media is only allowed to say good things about the leader is not a democracy.
In the Roseanne case, Valerie Jarrett is now a private citizen and Roseanne Barr’s comments can be classified as hate speech. Jarrett gets an apology because she was the victim of a racially charged insult. Trump doesn’t get an apology because he’s the leader of a democracy and that means he needs to be held to account by his citizens.
Regardless of common sense and democracy, the White House doubled down on Trump’s tweets at the daily press briefing Wednesday. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that while “no one is defending” Barr’s tweet, there is a “double standard” at play here. She also listed off a number of grievances the president has with people who have criticised him, including Kathy Griffin and Jamele Hill.
.@PressSec on Pres. Trump's tweet about "Roseanne" cancellation: "He's simply pointing out the bias. The president is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media…" https://t.co/TIirOXMruT pic.twitter.com/zRACni5atS
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 30, 2018
If you’re interested in how Kathy Griffin feels about being dragged into this latest episode of Scandal, she wrote a 52-tweet Twitter thread about it.
ZZ) The only way to deal with a presidency that abuses power and is authoritarian in nature is to make sure that we back up those that the administration has tried to knock down. It's exhausting but so important if we have any hope of preserving our democracy. Thank you. xoxo KG
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 31, 2018