Bozell & Graham Column: Roseanne's Spontaneous Combustion

Who knew we would look back at Roseanne Barr's crotch-grabbing massacre of the national anthem in 1990 and see a mere flesh wound on her career? She embarrassed herself, mocking America in front of America, but her hit show rolled along.

But one egregiously racist tweet destroyed the Roseanne reboot of 2018 in a Hollywood minute. Tweeting that Obama’s top aide Valerie Jarrett was a mixture of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes put an abrupt end to the top broadcast television program of the year.

ABC made the right decision, and also the obvious business decision. You cannot compare blacks to monkeys. That is an old, dehumanizing trope. It is viciously mean-spirited to compare Donald Trump to an orangutan, as many leftists have. But that is mocking one man’s hair and intelligence, not the rhetorical equivalent of a burning cross.

In retrospect, everyone said ABC should have known this was going to happen. Barr has always been a loose cannon, and her politics zig-zagged from running on the presidential ticket of the nutty-left Green Party all the way over to backing Donald Trump. But they had thrived with the original formula of Roseanne, and saw a win-win for the network: the show’s old audience would tune in, and they could sell it as ABC reaching out to the red states after they mysteriously dumped Tim Allen’s hit show. The ratings were terrific. Then Roseanne drove the reboot over a cliff.

Dehumanizing tropes about black people don’t always destroy careers…when the black is a Republican. For example, Pat Oliphant didn’t stop being the most widely syndicated political cartoonist in the world after he drew Condoleezza Rice as a parrot with large lips sitting on George W. Bush’s hand in 2008.

This was a trend. Christian Science Monitor cartoonist Jeff Danziger drew Rice barefoot in a rocking chair saying “I knows all about aluminum tubes! I don’t know nuthin’ about aluminum tubes!” In the radical fever swamps, cartoonist Ted Rall had Rice saying “I was Bush’s beard! His house nigga!” To which a black man replied: “Now hand over your hair straightener.” He was wearing a T-shirt that said “You’re not white, stupid.”

Even as “Roseanne” is canceled, let’s not congratulate Disney CEO Bob Iger as the King of Televised Civility. This is the same company that dragged its feet for weeks after ABC’s Joy Behar insulted millions on The View when she cracked it was a “mental illness” when Christians like Mike Pence act like “Jesus talks to you.” We protested until Behar apologized on air, and she has since compared Trump to an orangutan, because it’s just another day in the Resistance.

Days before the Roseanne debacle, Disney-owned ESPN re-hired Keith Olbermann, fresh off a series of unhinged Trump-hating videos for GQ magazine and a book titled Trump Is F—king Crazy (This Is Not a Joke). He’s also vicious on Twitter, like this tweet to the president and Sheriff Joe Arpaio: “You and @potus can go f--- yourselves, you racist Nazi f---s!” He lectured Republicans with emphasis: “this is the creature you unleashed on us. GET THIS SON OF A B---- THE F--- OUT OF HERE.”

With Olbermann, no one inside the liberal-media bubble is yet preparing their spin for the next inflammatory incident: “Disney should have known what they were doing when they rebooted this unstable character for another run.”


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