Throughout Tuesday morning, after Roseanne Barr shared a racist “joke” about President Obama’s former advisor Valerie Jarrett via social media, all I could think about was that room-filling cackle of hers. You know, the one you hear at the end of Roseanne‘s theme song? I pictured Barr hitting “Tweet,” sitting back, and having a hearty chuckle about all of the “snowflakes” melting with fury over her words.
Because there was no way anything bad could happen to someone making so much bank for ABC, right?
Within a few hours’ time, the network had cancelled the popular revival. ABC President Channing Dungey called Barr’s Twitter statement “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
Put aside, for a moment, whether you agreed with or were horrified by Roseanne Conner’s support for President Donald Trump. Table the question of whether ABC made the call more because advertisers were likely to bail on the controversial comedienne and less because the series star had a history of spewing hatred, sometimes cloaked in ridiculous conspiracy theories.
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But please do remember that in February, ABC shelved a potentially controversial black-ish Season 4 episode that dealt with the right of football players to take a knee in protest when the national anthem is played at games. At the time, both executive producer Kenya Barris and a representative for the network said that unresolvable “creative differences” were to blame for the installment’s absence from the season.
In a time where the United States needs more, not less, frank discussion about race and civil rights, the skirmish left us concerned about ABC’s commitment to speaking openly about race. But the network found itself on the right side of history Tuesday afternoon. And its bold choice is a refreshing call for sanity — and a reminder that a business can learn from its past mistakes while putting decency ahead of the bottom line — that other networks would do well to heed.