Roseanne Barr discovered that one bad tweet can upend your life — she’s not alone
If you use Twitter, you too are a public figure. And one egregious tweet could blow up your life.
On Tuesday, ABC DIS, -0.86% cancelled the wildly successful reboot of “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr wrote a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser in Barack Obama’s White House. Barr apologized, but the damage was done. Several members of her cast and ABC executives denounced her.
The cancelation of Barr’s show came some 11 hours after she sent the original tweet. “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, who is black, said in a statement. ICM Partners talent agency also dropped Barr.
The political climate puts all employers on high alert when it comes to the words and behavior of their employees.
The swiftness of ABC’s response is a testament to diversity in the C-suite and the speed with which news travels on social media, says Aram Sinnreich, professor of communications at the American University, Washington, D.C.
“It helps that there’s an African-American woman calling the shots,” he said. “It also reflects that, in the Trump age, the news cycle has accelerated so quickly that there’s a vanishingly small window for commercial entities to get out in front of these damaging public relations incidents. The ability to bury these kinds of stories has diminished to almost zero.”
This wasn’t Barr’s first racist tweet. So why now? The political climate is putting all employers on high alert when it comes to the words and behavior of their employees, Sinnreich says. “We’re understood to be private citizens, but when someone is the public face of a public corporation, that corporation should and must be held accountable for the actions of that individual,” he added.
Sinnreich says some people are frustrated with the lack of consequences when President Trump tweets racially-tinged comments. “Until the president is held accountable for the outrageous volume of hate speech that he generates, proxies are going to continue to come under the gun.” (President Trump has made incendiary remarks about Mexicans, Haitians and Nigerians.)