ABC network shares blame for Roseanne

The meeting we hold each afternoon in the Tribune Chronicle newsroom in which editors discuss story placement for the next day’s print edition became a bit more lively than usual Tuesday during discourse about how prominently we should publish the story about ABC’s firing of Roseanne Barr over her racist tweet that day.

The Hollywood celebrity and star of the recently renewed ABC sitcom “Roseanne” last week tweeted, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” The initials referred to Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was an adviser to former President Barack Obama.

Several editors on my staff argued strongly that the story deserved to run squarely on A1 and above the fold.

I believed, however, it belonged on A2 — the page we normally set aside for coverage of celebrity news and odd stories of the day.

My argument was in no way an attempt to give Barr a free pass. Believe me when I say that my high level of disgust with Barr’s social media post was real.

Still, I decided against front page coverage because given this actress’ sordid past, I didn’t think anyone should be surprised by her social media post.

Quite frankly, I’m dumbfounded that ABC could even express such shock and dismay at her actions.

Here is what ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey had to say about it: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement, is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

As syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan pointed out this week, isn’t offensive, juvenile and crude pretty much the job description ABC had in mind for Barr’s role in her show?

And didn’t ABC decide to hire Barr last year for the return of “Roseanne” knowing full well about her classless past?

That dates back nearly 30 years to the time when Barr made a mockery of our national anthem with her performance at a Major League Baseball game. You’ll recall she shrieked the words of the Star-Spangled Banner, spit at the ground and scratched her crotch before a national TV audience.

Other questionable behavior includes a photo that has surfaced depicting Barr dressed as Adolf Hitler and pulling a pan of burnt cookies out of an oven; and her one-time claim, later discredited and recanted, to have been a victim of incest.

Tuesday’s tweet also followed other revolting tweets, including one lie that liberal billionaire George Soros, 87, was a Nazi who turned in fellow Jews to be murdered.

It has been clear for years that Barr could and will behave erratically and offensively.

Still, ABC ignored all indications and allowed her stardom to continue by renewing her role last year as the starring role in the cast of “Roseanne.”

Sadly, either a short memory by the public — or worse, apathy — of her utter lack of couth or good character have allowed the show to grow and prosper.

That wild popularity certainly has helped Barr and ABC to prosper financially in the last year.

What has this nation come to when we, as Americans, find it entertaining to tune in to performances by people who repeatedly display such deplorable actions?

Would we all be better off if we worked to reign in this still existing culture of bias and degradation? Isn’t it important that we teach our children by our actions the importance of having courage to stand up to all forms racism — whether in person, online or on social media. Let’s be clear, after all, that a racist joke isn’t a joke at all.

And as for placement of the Roseanne Barr-racist-tweet-and-firing story, regular readers know that under my direction, we ultimately decided to place the story in Wednesday’s edition on page A2. But I did acquiesce enough to agree to add a promo for the story at the top of A1.

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