Trump Renews Call for ABC Apology
U.S. President Donald Trump again asked the ABC TV network Thursday for an apology for reasons that were not entirely clear. The request came a day after the network canceled Roseanne Barr's television show following racist remarks she posted about Valerie Jarrett, an African American who served as a White House adviser to President Barack Obama.
Trump’s request comes after he suggested Wednesday he should get an apology from Bob Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC.
On Thursday, though, Trump was more direct when he tweeted: "Iger, where is my call of apology? You and ABC have offended millions of people, and they demand a response. How is Brian Ross doing? He tanked the market with an ABC lie, yet no apology. Double Standard!"
Trump did not elaborate on how the network offended people. ABC correspondent Brian Ross, however, was suspended for four weeks last year after erroneously reporting that Trump asked former national security adviser Michael Flynn to make contact with Russian officials before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Although ABC has not apologized directly to Trump for Ross’ error, the network issued a statement shortly after recanting the story that said, “We deeply regret and apologize for the serious error we made yesterday.”
Trump has not denounced Barr, who is white, for posting a tweet Tuesday that was later deleted saying Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the "Planet of the Apes." She later tweeted she was sorry "for making a bad joke" about Jarrett.
But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders said Wednesday Barr’s remarks were “inappropriate” and complained about the hiring of Trump critic Keith Olberman by ESPN, which is also owned by Disney. "This is a double standard that the president is speaking about."
Barr's offensive remarks triggered intense backlash, including ABC's cancellation of her show which had been renewed for a second season.
"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," said ABC entertainment President Channing Dungey.
Trump's Twitter response Wednesday was somewhat surprising after Huckabee-Sanders said in response to a question about Barr Tuesday that he is focusing on trade, North Korea and other issues and "not responding to other things."
After saying Tuesday she would stop tweeting, Barr resumed posting, blaming the effects of the sleep medication Ambien for her racist remarks in one of her more than 100 subsequent postings.
"guys I did something unforgivable so do not defend me. it was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting — it was memorial day too — i went 2 far & do not want it defended — it was egregious indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but…don't defend it please."
The maker of Ambien, Sanofi S.A., responded to Barr's claim saying, "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."
Iger, who once considered challenging Trump for the presidency in 2020, indeed called Jarrett to inform her about the show's cancellation.
"He wanted me to know before he made it public that he was canceling the show," Jarrett said.
Jarrett has not commented on Trump's response nor has Iger replied to Trump's suggestion he was treated differently by the network.
Barr's TV show was a new version of her 1988-97 sitcom "Roseanne." It returned this year with Barr playing a character who is supportive of President Trump.
Barr in real life is an avid supporter of Trump. He hailed the new show two months ago for its strong ratings.
"Look at her ratings! Look at her ratings," he said at a speech in Richfield, Ohio. "Over 18 million people," Trump said, "and it was about us." They haven't figured it out yet; the fake news hasn't quite figured it out yet. They have not figured it out. So that was great."
Trump's response to the Barr controversy was not his only controversial remark in recent days. On Memorial Day, a solemn U.S. holiday to honor military personnel who died in the line of duty, Trump tweeted: "Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!"
The tweet drew criticism from some, including retired Admiral John Kirby, a State Department spokesman during the Obama administration.
"This is one of the most inappropriate, ignorant and tone-deaf things our Commander-in-Chief could have said on a day like today," Kirby wrote on Twitter.