Zurawik: All praise to ABC for canceling 'Roseanne' after Barr's hate-speech tweet

Zurawik: All praise to ABC for canceling 'Roseanne' after Barr's hate-speech tweet
ABC cancelled "Roseanne" after Roseanne Barr tweeted what was widely decried as a racist remark about Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to president Barack Obama. (VALERIE MACON / AFP/Getty Images)

All praise to ABC for cancelling “Roseanne” today after Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama.

And double praise to the network for such a clean, quick, moral call in a corporate media world drowning in executives talking out of both sides of their mouths.


“Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement this afternoon.

That’s all she wrote, as they say. And, after decades of seeing network executives bend themselves into knots trying to keep bad people in hit shows on the air, I salute Dungey and ABC for ditching a show that came out of nowhere to make tens of millions of dollars for the network.

This is how you teach civil and moral behavior: You make people who transgress the way Roseanne did pay a huge price. You make them pariahs no matter how much it hurts your bottom line.

Here’s what did it.

In one of her tweets early this morning, Barr wrote, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj."

It was in response to a comment about Jarrett, who is African-American.

Barr later deleted the post and tweeted an apology to Jarrett and "all Americans."

"I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks," Barr wrote on Twitter. "I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste."

Barr added that she was “leaving Twitter.”

“Bad joke” and “bad taste” are lame and even shameful excuses for the raw racism of Barr’s words. How someone with her experience in the world of culture and comedy thinks you can say something that hateful and then make it OK by taking it down and apologizing is beyond me.

I’d like to say I am sad or something that sounds equally balanced and high minded about the cancellation and repudiation of Barr by ABC, but I can’t.

I welcomed the Conner family to prime time. American TV needs more comedies and dramas that articulate what life looks like through working class eyes, and “Roseanne” did that for many — both the old and new versions.

After three weeks of ratings dominance on Tuesday nights, it’s safe to say the reboot of “Roseanne” is here to stay as one of network TV’s highest rated and most culturally resonant series. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun video)

But I don’t believe the racism seen in her tweet is part of that world view.

At least, I hope it isn’t.


If I’m wrong, I hope the righteous action of ABC today will help folks see how wrongheaded, ignorant and beyond the pale such hate speech is.