DANIEL VAUGHAN: Firing Roseanne Barr is just the beginning

June 1, 2018

ABC’s decision to fire Roseanne Barr for her blatantly racist tweet was predictable. So predictable, in fact, that Robert Iger and ABC should get zero credit for “doing the right thing.”

Roseanne Barr was known for her vile mouth and generally inflammatory personality even before her show’s reboot — and that includes on her public Twitter feed. Yet Iger and ABC still hired her for the series reboot.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a step back.

Before the idea of a reboot was a twinkle in the eye of anyone at Disney, Roseanne Barr had a personal Twitter account and very controversial public persona.

She is, for all intents and purposes, a nutjob, as J.J. McCullough at National Review documented deftly:

Barr has never met a conspiracy theory she didn’t love. She’s a 9-11 truther who believes that “Bush did it,” and she has called the Boston Marathon bombing one of many “false flag terror attacks” perpetrated by the [Barack] Obama administration to “remove” the Second Amendment. For good measure, she also believes that the old man Bush killed JFK.

You can find YouTube videos of her rambling about “MK ULTRA Mind Control” on RT, and she seems particularly fond of the notion that the American ruling class is running some manner of pedophile sex cult. Her views on Jews and Israel fluctuate wildly — in the past, she has called Israel a “Nazi state” and alleged that Zionism was created by the Third Reich (or something — I challenge you to succinctly summarize the opinions expressed here), though more recently she’s taken to accusing Hillary Clinton of plotting Israel’s destruction and labeling aide Huma Abedin a “Nazi whore.”

Most of these opinions have been expressed on Twitter, on YouTube, and in public interviews. She’s never shied away from revealing what she believes on any political matter, no matter how out in left field she is on a given subject.

Robert Iger, Disney, ABC, and all the executives involved knew this before ever hiring Barr for the reboot.

None of this was a secret to them, and they hired her knowing they were hiring a person who believes American presidents are responsible for terrorist attacks and who has attacked Israel and Jews in the past.

But there was money to be made in pandering to Trump voters. Except, even that overture was a sham.

After the first couple of episodes aired, I wrote that the show Roseanne was what Hollywood wanted Trump voters to be:

If you work your way through Roseanne’s own belief system in the show, both before and now, you encounter a person who is pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-transgenderism, and liberal on feminism. In the end, the reason she voted for Trump was that of economic goals and bringing jobs back to America.

These themes expanded even more on the show as the Conner family started adopting “woke” political stances — meaning they assumed more and more progressive beliefs with every episode. Given the show’s trajectory, it wouldn’t have shocked me if they’d had Roseanne switch political parties.

And that should tell you something about what the people operating Disney think about the average Trump voter. They believe we are just like Roseanne Barr — vile people with deplorable words and beliefs — but that, in the end, we still generally will come to agree with the progressive elites.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Firing Roseanne Barr sets a new precedent, much like pursuing criminal charges against Harvey Weinstein gave teeth to the #MeToo movement. It’s not hard to find big-time TV hosts, actors, or journalists with large followings and problematic pasts.

Joy-Ann Reid, TV news host on MSNBC, has old blog posts where she touts 9/11 truther videos, much like Barr. She also had numerous homophobic joke posts and portrayed Sen. John McCain as the infamous Virginia Tech shooter.

Or how about Samantha Bee, comedian and talk show host of Full Frontal, who was forced to apologize for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c***” on a taped show. She’s now losing advertisers and is at risk of getting canceled.

And Disney just rehired Keith Olbermann to the sinking ship that is ESPN. He has a rap sheet of inflammatory comments that would make Howard Stern and Ted Nugent wince.

The #MeToo movement purged the entertainment and political arenas in our society. People have justifiably lost their careers for how they’ve raped, abused, and mistreated women. The sexual revolution of the 1960’s continues to destroy its own.

And now, a second hammer is falling on people who spew vile words, ideas, and attacks over the airwaves.

If you’re going to fire Roseanne Barr for saying something racist, then will you also stand against people who peddle sexism, anti-Semitism, and just general hatred? (Racism is a moral evil that society should rid itself of in every fashion — but it’s not the only evil.)

If you’re going to police society from all these evils, then consistency is required. You can’t allow one political faction to say disparaging things continually or use vulgar slurs while the other gets punished for doing the same.

The right thing to do, as Bob Iger put it, may be apparent, but now you have to live by that rule. If the right thing to do is evident, then it applies to everyone.

That means more pink slips are coming, not just for Roseanne Barr. And that should include the executives making decisions, not just the on-air talent.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.