Around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, news broke that ABC had canceled its popular Roseanne reboot over racially insensitive tweets star Roseanne Barr had posted just hours before.
The brash actress sparked an outcry on social media early Tuesday morning when she called former top Obama aide Valerie Jarett the lovechild of the Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.
Full disclosure: I don't watch Roseanne, and frankly, I don't care to.
And my issue here isn’t ABC’s canceling of the show. As an employer, the network has every right to pull the plug on any show it wants, just as the NFL has the right to fine teams whose players don't stand for the national anthem. If ABC wishes to distance itself from an employee’s speech, it may do so at any time – just as the public has every right to distance their remote controls from a network if they disagree with its corporate decision.
Welcome to the free market.
But what’s a lot more concerning than ABC’s yanking Roseanne from the airwaves is the network’s obvious double standard when it comes to condemning offensive speech.
While Barr’s tweets were admittedly stupid and in very poor taste, so, too, were Joy Behar’s comments calling Christians mentally ill during a segment of The View earlier this year. And, unlike Roseanne’s tweets made from a personal Twitter account, Behar’s remarks were made on-air during an ABC show.
Now, notice the reaction time of these two incidents.
Barr posted her now-infamous tweets at 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. By 10 a.m., she'd apologized.
By noon, production consultant Wanda Sykes had dropped out of the show. An hour later, co-star Sara Gilbert publicly condemned Barr’s comments as not being reflective of the cast’s views. By 1:30 p.m., rumors were circulating that ABC had cancelled Roseanne altogether.
At 2:00, less than 12 hours after Barr initially posted her tweet, ABC CEO Bob Iger announced the network had pulled the plug on the show, quoting ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey as calling it “the right thing to do.”
From Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 29, 2018
There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.
Flashback to Behar’s offensive description of Vice President Mike Pence and millions of faithful Christians as crazy nutjobs who talk to ghosts in the sky during a segment on her ABC-aired show on February 13.
Three days later, following a public outcry, the shrews over at The View finally circled back to Behar’s comments, pooh-poohing whole thing as merely “controversial" and issuing perhaps the weakest non-apology in the history of mea culpas.
It took three weeks for Iger to address the controversy, which he did in the most backhanded way possible. Reports emerged that Iger had informed shareholders that Behar had called Pence to apologize privately for her disparaging remarks. No real statement. No public apology. And definitely no firing of Behar.
On March 13, a full month after first inserting her bigoted food into her mouth, Behar finally publicly apologized for her comments – but only after the Media Research Center had launched an all-out, weeks-long campaign against the network for its unrepentant and repeated attacks on Christians, resulting in tens of thousands of individuals blowing up ABC's phone lines.
To say that ABC had no right to cancel Roseanne over Barr’s inappropriate tweets is a bad take.
But so, too, is any claim that the executives over at ABC are truly committed to condemning bigoted speech.