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‘Roseanne’ canceled after star’s racist tweet

Actress Roseanne Barr initially responded to criticism by suggesting the remark was a “joke.” | Valerie Macon/Getty Images

ABC canceled the relaunched “Roseanne” program on Tuesday amid an uproar over show lead Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet about longtime Barack Obama adviser and close friend Valerie Jarrett.

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

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Facing a fevered backlash over social media, Barr apologized Tuesday for making the comment about Jarrett.

Over Twitter, the irascible star of the newly relaunched ABC sitcom “Roseanne” launched a firestorm by writing of Jarrett: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Jarrett was born in Iran and is African-American.

Barr initially responded to criticism suggesting the remark was a “joke.” But as calls quickly grew for both ABC and sponsors to drop the sitcom, she later offered a full-throated apology.

“I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans,” Barr 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.”

Jarrett, who is now a University of Chicago Law School senior fellow, declined comment through a spokesperson.

The cancellation signals a victory for critics of the show, who scrutinized ABC’s decision to revive the popular 1990s sitcom despite lingering concerns over Barr’s incendiary comments online. It also marks the end of a show that drew praise from President Donald Trump, who was supported by both Barr and her fictional TV character.

After the premiere of the “Roseanne” reboot drew nearly 20 million viewers in March, Trump celebrated its ratings success during a rally in Ohio. “Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings!” Trump told the crowd, attributing the figures partly to himself and his supporters.

Trump has long touted ratings as a barometer of sorts for success, both as the former face of NBC’s “The Apprentice” and as a politician. And the popularity of Barr’s program was widely seen as linked to the populist surge that helped Trump clinch the presidency in 2016.

ABC’s decision to drop the show was celebrated by several legislators.

“Thank you, @ABCNetwork. You did the right thing,” tweeted Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights icon who marched alongside the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “There is not any room in our society for racism or bigotry.”

Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), the first formerly undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress, tweeted: “Thank you @ABC for standing up to reaffirm that racism and bigotry will NOT be tolerated.”

In response to the TV star’s remarks, long-time Jarrett friend and White House colleague David Axelrod took aim at Barr earlier Tuesday.

“I’m proud of Valerie and the extraordinary life and contributions she’s made,” Axelrod said in an email Tuesday. “Can anyone say the same about that tweet? It brands itself.”

It appears the original tweet was since taken down.

Prior to the show’s cancellation, Wanda Sykes, who described herself as a consulting producer for the program, tweeted that she “will not be returning” to “Roseanne.” And Sara Gilbert, who plays the daughter to Barr’s fictional Roseanne Conner character on the show, expressed disappointment over the “abhorrent” remarks on social media.

“Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show,” Gilbert tweeted. “I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.”

She added: “This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love— one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.”

The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert Iger, whose company owns ABC, tweeted: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”

The network faced renewed pressure Tuesday to address incendiary public remarks from Barr, who has sparked controversy by propagating unsubstantiated conspiracy theories online. Her remarks on Jarrett prompted a fresh round of calls for companies to drop their ads on the program.

Despite the uproar, over a dozen sponsors for “Roseanne” did not respond to requests for comment from POLITICO on whether they would discontinue ads on the program. They include Target, Pepsi, Microsoft, Samsung, Buick, Olive Garden, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Ashley Furniture, SunTrust, Ford, Southwest, Hotels.com, Kimberly-Clark Corp and GSK.

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