By JOHN KOBLIN
© 2018 New York Times News Service
ABC canceled the hit sitcom “Roseanne” on Tuesday hours after the show’s star and co-creator, Roseanne Barr, posted a racist tweet about a former top adviser to President Barack Obama who is black.
Barr, whose ABC sitcom about the Conner family ended a successful comeback season last week, initially dismissed accusations that the comment was racist, defending it as “a joke.” She also said on Twitter, “ISLAM is not a RACE, lefties. Islam includes EVERY RACE of people.”
Barr later deleted the post about Jarrett and initially said nothing about the reference to “The Planet of the Apes.” About a half-hour later, she offered an apology.
“I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans,” she wrote. “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.”
Barr also said she was “leaving Twitter.”
Hours later, ABC canceled her show.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC’s Entertainment President Channing Dungey said in a statement.
The fallout over the Twitter post had begun earlier. Wanda Sykes, the black comedian who served as a consulting producer on “Roseanne” this season, said she was leaving the sitcom.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said on Twitter that Barr’s comparing Jarret to an “APE is racist and inexcusable. ABC must take action NOW!” Tom Arnold, Barr’s former husband and co-star, called her Twitter posts “dangerous.” And MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on Twitter, “There is no apology she can make that justifies @ABC turning a blind eye to this bigotry by airing another second of her show.”
“Roseanne” will probably finish the 2017-18 television season as the No. 3 rated show, behind two NBC programs: “Sunday Night Football” and “This is Us.” More than 18 million people on average have watched “Roseanne” this season, according to Nielsen.