Valerie Jarrett — a former adviser to President Obama who was the subject of a racist tweet posted by Roseanne Barr on Tuesday morning — was alerted by ABC of its decision to cancel Roseanne before the news was actually announced.
In an “Everyday Racism in America” town hall that airs tonight on MSNBC at 9 p.m. ET, Jarrett told the panel that Disney CEO Bob Iger called her before ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey released a statement condemning Barr’s tweets and announcing the end of the sitcom. Iger apologized and said he would not tolerate those kinds of comments made by Barr, Jarrett said.
“He wanted me to know before he made it public that he was canceling the show,” Jarrett said during the show, according to an early transcript released to EW.
Earlier in the day, Barr sent out a tweet that used Jarrett’s initials while saying, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.” Barr’s tweet aimed at Jarrett, an African-American woman who served as a senior adviser for Obama from 2009 to 2017, seemed to refer to conspiracy theories falsely painting her as a closeted Muslim. Barr later tweeted an apology (“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”), but it was way too little, way too late. ABC then canceled the sitcom.
During the town hall, Jarrett also noted she was “fine” after the whole ordeal though she worries how racism will affect those who “don’t have a circle of friends and followers coming to their defense. The person who’s walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse, or want to cross the street, or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation, ‘the talk’ as we call it, and as you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day. I think that’s why I’m so glad to be here this evening talking with all of you.”
“I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment,” she continued. “Tone does start at the top, and we like to look up to our President and feel as though he reflects the values of our country. But I also think that every individual citizen has a responsibility too, and it’s up to all of us to push back. Our government is only going to be as good as we make it be. And as Reverend always taught me, you have to be– people on the inside have to push hard and people on the outside have to listen.”
“Everyday Racism in America” is moderated by MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Joy Reid.