On Tuesday, ABC canceled the sitcom Roseanne after the show’s titular star tweeted that former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett reminder her of an ape. The network said that Barr’s racist tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
But just two weeks ago in New York City, top ABC brass had a much different take on Roseanne Barr’s Twitter account. The network launched its pitch to advertisers, called “upfronts,” with a series of jokes about Barr’s incendiary tweets.
The presentation began with Barr, who was heavily featured, introducing Disney-ABC Television Group chairman Ben Sherwood as “the guy responsible for most of my tweets.” Sherwood then appeared and praised Barr as someone who has “always done it her way.”
“For the record, I have absolutely nothing to do with Roseanne’s Twitter account,” Sherwood joked. “Take a look at her most recent tweet. It was all her.”
Sherwood then displayed a (fake) tweet from Roseanne complimenting him as a “more handsome and rugged Ben Affleck with a better back tattoo.”
Ben Sherwood at ABC’s upfront presentation on May 15 (CREDIT: Screenshot)
ABC’s upfront presentation was streamed for entertainment reporters who couldn’t make it to New York City. While reporters watching the stream were free to write about happens at the presentation, to gain access they had to agree not to “forward, capture, rip, broadcast, redirect or otherwise copy” the video.
ThinkProgress, which did not cover ABC’s upfront presentation, obtained the video from a source. The video has not previously been publicly available online.
As Sherwood’s “joke” suggests, the nature of Barr’s tweets were well known before Tuesday. Barr had even previously compared another black Obama adviser, Susan Rice, to an ape.
You know this wasn’t Roseanne Barr first time calling a black woman an ape — pic.twitter.com/zGLTNE6ZPv
— GEEZY (@GRYKING) May 29, 2018
In March, Roseanne tweeted about QAnon, a bizarre conspiracy theory that alleges Trump is breaking up massive child sex rings run by prominent Democrats.
“President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere, notice that,” Barr wrote.
Barr has continued to promote the QAnon conspiracy on Twitter in recent days.
None of this, however, gave ABC News any pause until Tuesday.
During the upfront, after the jokes about Barr’s Twitter account, Sherwood touted Roseanne as the “#1 New Comedy” and the “#1 TV Show” across all of television.