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Disney CEO After 'Roseanne' Cancellation: 'You Can't Debate What Is Morally Right'

Disney CEO After 'Roseanne' Cancellation: 'You Can't Debate What Is Morally Right'

Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) cancelled ABC’s “Roseanne” reboot Tuesday after star Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment about an adviser to former President Barack Obama.

What Happened

Barr posted early Tuesday that if “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj” in reference to Valerie Jarrett, who is black.

The tweet was quickly removed and replaced with an apology, but that didn’t stop the outrage. In response to heavy backlash, ABC severed ties with her program.

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

Disney CEO Bob Iger supported the decision, saying in a tweet: "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing."

"You can't debate what is morally right," Iger told CNBC after the announcement.

Why It’s Important

With just nine episodes in the first season of the revival, “Roseanne” was set to finish 2017-2018 as the No. 3 show overall and the top ABC show, drawing an average of 18 million viewers. ABC had another 13 episodes ready for the fall.

“What’s crazy about this was this show was the biggest hit on network television in years,” Marc Berman, editor-in-chief of Programming Insider, told Benzinga. “Enormous. Enormous. This could have been another long-term run for the show, and there was no need for her to do this.”

The decision to cut the series won ABC brownie points in the Twittersphere, particularly among television critics and justice advocates.

It's an ostensible triumph of values over money, NBC’s Joe Scarborough wrote. But the series sacrifice may not be as painful as some are making it out to be.

“They only had 13 episodes, it’s not like they had a whole season, so if they didn’t get more episodes, it would’ve been off by midseason anyway,” Berman said. “It’s only a half hour, it’s not going to turn around the whole network. This is a very big show and any network love a hit of that magnitude, but it doesn’t carry the entire network. So without it, they’re going to lose some steam, but it’s not going to make that much of an enormous difference.”

What’s Next

Although the show has been announced as cancelled, Berman said it may be wise for ABC to merely axe the Roseanne character and continue the show as a feature of the Connor family. For now, ABC has made its path clear. 

Disney's stock was down 2.62 percent at $99.52 at the time of publication Tuesday afternoon. 

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Screenshot of Roseanne Barr from Jordan Brady's film "I Am Comic" via Wikimedia.


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