When you have your own TV show, you have to be careful about what you tweet: ABC canceled the Roseanne reboot on Tuesday due to a racist tweetstorm by its star earlier in the day. The show was noteworthy as one of the few on primetime TV to feature an openly pro-Trump protagonist, and in light of its cancellation, it's worth taking a look back at Donald Trump and Roseanne Barr's relationship history.
Throughout the course of several hours Tuesday, Barr falsely accused a Holocaust survivor of collaborating with Nazis, falsely stated that Chelsea Clinton is married to the nephew of that survivor, and said that one of Barack Obama's former advisors looks like an ape. It's unclear exactly which of these tweets led to her television show getting cancelled, as ABC only cited her "Twitter statement" as reason for pulling the plug on her show.
“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 Tuesday. In addition to losing her television show, Barr also lost the services of the talent agency that represented her, ICM Partners, which called her Twitter activity "disgraceful and unacceptable."
Donald Trump Jr. retweeted several of Barr's most inflammatory tweets on Tuesday — and that's not the first sign of affinity between the former television star and the first family.
It's worth noting that before she was a vocal Trump supporter, Barr held many progressive views, and even ran for the Green Party's presidential nomination in 2012. Although it's unclear exactly when she made her transformation, it appears to have began around 2013, when she went from criticizing Israel and defending Palestinians to denouncing "ISLAMIC RAPE PEDO CULTURE" and, by 2016, headlining pro-Israel events. In June of that year, she said that "we would be so lucky" if Trump won the presidential election, then denounced Hillary Clinton as a "globalist" several months later.
As for Trump, he praised Barr as far back as 2013 as well, writing in a tweet that "she would be great" as a contestant on the Celebrity Apprentice. After Barr's supportive statement during the election, he again gave her a shout-out on Twitter, saying her comments were "very much appreciated."
It wasn't until March 2018 that Barr's sitcom from the 1990s was revived, and debuted to stellar ratings. In the show, Barr's character is an unabashed supporter of Trump's presidency, so it's probably no surprise that, according to the New York Times and later confirmed by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Barr received a phone call from the president congratulating her on the show's success.
"They said, ‘Hold please for the President of the United States of America’ and that was about the most exciting thing ever, and it was very sweet of him to congratulate us," Barr recalled of her phone call with Trump while appearing on Good Morning America. “We just kind of had a private conversation, but we talked about a lot of things. He’s just happy for me. I’ve known him for many years, and he’s done a lot of nice things for me over the years. It was just a friendly conversation about work and television and ratings.”
The next day, Trump spoke glowingly of Barr's show while speaking at a rally in Ohio.
"Look at Roseanne," Trump said at the event. "I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings! I got a call from Mark Burnett — he did The Apprentice, he's a great guy. He said 'Donald, I called just to say hello, and to tell you, did you see Roseanne's ratings?' I said 'Mark, how big were they?' They were unbelievable — over 18 million people. And it was about us!" He added that "the fake news hasn't quite figured it out yet," and that "when they do, they'll become much less fake."
Roseanne's success with viewers was in fact widely reported in the mainstream press. But apparently, that success wasn't enough to save the show from the blowback of Barr's racist Twitter tirade. It's a cautionary tale to both Barr and Trump that sometimes, ratings aren't everything.