One day after the ABC television 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 former President Barack Obama, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the network owes him an apology.
"Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that 'ABC does not tolerate comments like those' made by Roseanne Barr," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?"
Barr, who is white, tweeted Tuesday that Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.
Before it was deleted, the tweet read: "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj."
Barr later tweeted she was sorry "for making a bad joke" about Jarrett.
Hours after Trump's tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters, "No one is defending her statements. They're inappropriate."
But she said that Trump, with his Twitter comment, was calling attention to what he sees as "hypocrisy in the media ... a double standard" in the way he has been treated in news stories he felt defamed him without subsequent apologies.
Barr's 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 was somewhat surprising. Sanders had said Tuesday in response to a question about Barr that the president was focusing on trade, North Korea and other issues and "not responding to other things."
Barr said Tuesday that she would stop tweeting but subsequently issued more than 100 postings. In one, she blamed the effects of the sleep medication Ambien for her racist remarks:
"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, 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 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, 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 Army General Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who tweeted: "This day, of all days of the year, should not be about any one of us. No matter how prestigious or powerful, no matter how successful we perceive ourselves to be. Rather, this day should be about those who gave their lives so that we could live ours in freedom. #MemorialDay."
Retired Admiral John Kirby, a State Department spokesman during the Obama administration, was also critical of the president's Memorial Day tweet.
"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.