Trump breaks silence on Roseanne Barr scandal
President Trump’s first public reaction to the cancellation of “Roseanne” is a shot at Disney CEO Bob Iger.
What he didn’t say is just as notable. He didn’t say anything critical of Roseanne Barr’s racist and conspiratorial tweets — the comments that got her fired on Tuesday.
Instead, he tweeted this on Wednesday: “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?”
Trump and Barr have been supporters of each other for years. Trump called her up when “Roseanne” drew record ratings for its premiere in March. So that’s why there was speculation that he might weigh in on the show’s demise.
Rather than distancing himself from Barr’s racist remarks, Trump jumped right into the argument about whether she was subjected to a double standard.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Wednesday that she is not aware of any new calls between Trump and Barr.
“No one’s defending what she said,” Sanders said when asked about Trump’s reaction to the controversy.
She said Trump’s anti-ABC tweet was “simply calling out media bias.”
Here’s the context: Jarrett was one of the targets of Barr’s Twitter tirade early Tuesday morning.
Barr compared Jarrett to “Planet of the Apes” and the Muslim Brotherhood, then claimed she was just joking. The tweet was widely condemned as racist.
Jarrett, one of the most prominent African American women in politics, was one of President Obama’s top aides. That’s partly why Barr attacked her. Barr frequently uses her Twitter account to deride Democrats.
When her attack caught fire on Twitter, Iger and his deputies moved quickly to cancel the show.
It is true that Iger called Jarrett and told her about the decision to cancel “Roseanne” shortly before it was announced on Tuesday.
“He wanted me to know before he made it public that he was canceling the show,” Jarrett said in an interview on MSNBC.
Trump picked up on that comment in his tweet on Wednesday. He is implying that he is the victim of a liberal media double standard.
There are additional political overtones to the tweet because Iger seriously considered a 2020 run against Trump. He deliberated about it with friends and financiers last year, but ultimately decided against a run.
Iger and Jarrett did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Trump’s tweet.
By weighing in, Trump is once again at odds with his own press secretary. On Tuesday, when Sarah Sanders was asked for Trump’s view about the cancellation, Sanders said “that’s not what the president is looking at. That’s not what he’s spending his time on. And I think that we have a lot bigger things going on in the country right now, certainly that the President is spending his time when it comes to policy.”
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Barr reacted to ABC’s decision by tweeting apologies and retweeting dozens of her fans. Some of the retweets promoted conspiracy theories and anti-ABC grievances.
Barr continued tweeting on Wednesday afternoon. She retweeted Trump’s comment.
“I’m not a racist, I never was & I never will be,” she wrote. “One stupid joke in a lifetime of fighting 4 civil rights 4 all minorities, against networks, studios, at the expense of my nervous system/family/wealth will NEVER b taken from me.”
Barr’s defense left out any rationalization for the other racist and outrageous tweets in her past, including ones from earlier in the week.