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September 20, 2018

ABC drops Roseanne show after racist tweet against ex-Obama aide

Actress Roseanne Barr waves on her arrival to the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, January 7, 2018. /REUTERS
Actress Roseanne Barr waves on her arrival to the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, US, January 7, 2018. /REUTERS

ABC TV network has cancelled comedian Roseanne Barr's sitcom after she posted a racist tweet likening an African-American former Obama aide to an ape.

ABC said: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values and we have decided to cancel her show."

Barr's tweet said Valerie Jarrett was the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes film.

The reboot of her hit '90s sitcom "Roseanne" has been a ratings hit.

The comedian deleted Monday night's original post, but could not contain the backlash.

"I apologise to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans," Barr wrote, after follow-up posts in which she defended her remarks as a "joke".

"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."

Barr's initial tweet came in response to another Twitter user, who accused Jarrett of helping to conceal purported spying during the Obama administration.

Jarrett was a senior adviser to former US President Barack Obama, and worked with him during his early days in Chicago politics.

She was born in Iran to African-American parents.

What else did Barr say?

 Jarrett was not the only target of Barr's Twitter tirade in recent days.

 On Monday, the 65-year-old entertainer claimed Chelsea Clinton - daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton - was married to a relative of billionaire investor George Soros in a tweet.

Barr tweeted an apology to Clinton on Tuesday.

Barr also alleged Soros, who is Jewish, was a Nazi collaborator - a claim his spokesman labelled "an affront".

On Sunday, the comedian criticised the Obama family for signing on with Netflix to produce TV programmes and movies.

Barr - who ran unsuccessfully for the Green party's presidential nomination in 2012 - implied she was considering a White House bid someday.

The comedian wrote on Tuesday she was "now leaving Twitter".

What's the reaction?

Speaking at a prescheduled MSNBC town hall event on racism, Jarrett said the Roseanne Barr controversy was "a teaching moment".

"I'm fine, I'm worried about all the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers coming to their defence," she said.

She added that Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney, ABC's parent company, had called her to apologise and said he had "zero tolerance" for Barr's tweet.

Following ABC's cancellation notice, Barr's talent agency, ICM Partners, dropped her as a client.

Entertainment media report an internal email to ICM employees called Barr's tweet "disgraceful and unacceptable".

Sara Gilbert, who plays daughter Darlene on the series, posted on Twitter that Barr's comments were "abhorrent".

Emma Kenney, who plays Darlene's daughter Harris, said "the racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable", adding: "Bullies do not win. Ever."Danny Zuker, a writer for the original 1988 Roseanne show, said it was "nauseating" to see what Barr had become.

How did her show perform?

Her hit sitcom's cancellation comes just two months after it was revived.

The premiere in March pulled in more than 25 million people, with delayed viewing counted in.

It was renewed for a second season before the 10 episodes even finished airing.

The comedy series won conservative plaudits because Barr plays a Trump supporter, a group largely ignored by Hollywood.

US President Donald Trump, whom Barr also supports off-camera as well, had called to congratulate her on the success of the rebooted show.

The original Roseanne aired from 1988-97 and was critically acclaimed for its portrayal of working-class Americans.

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