Former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett called actress Roseanne Barr’s racist comments about her a “teaching moment” during MSNBC’s “Everyday Racism in America” town hall on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Barr wrote on Twitter, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” in reference to Jarrett, who is black and was born in Iran to American parents. Barr apologized and deleted the tweet on Tuesday.
At the event, hosted by Joy Reid and Chris Hayes, Jarrett addressed the post. “First of all, I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers coming to their defense,” she said, according to a clip released by MSNBC.
Hours after a backlash against Barr’s comment began, ABC President Channing Dungey called Barr’s tweet “repugnant” and announced that the network was canceling the hit revival of her sitcom. Jarrett said that Bob Iger, the CEO of ABC’s parent corporation, the Walt Disney Co., reached out to let her know about the cancellation of “Roseanne.”
“He wanted me to know before he made it public that he was canceling the show,” Jarrett said, according to NBC News.
She called that decision the right move. Many were surprised by the decision to cancel the “Roseanne” revival, given that Barr has made problematic comments for years without consequence.
Barr’s co-stars and collaborators publicly denounced her tweet, and talent agency ICM Partners dropped her as a client, a spokesman for the company confirmed for HuffPost on Tuesday.
“We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning,” ICM Partners wrote in a note to employees. “What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client.”
Jarrett also referred to President Donald Trump during the town hall, saying, “Tone does start at the top.”
“We like to look up to our president and feel as though he reflects the values of our country, but I also think every individual citizen has a responsibility to,” she said during the MSNBC event. “And it’s up to all of us to push back.”
Jarrett’s full comments will be aired during MSNBC’s “Everyday Racism in America” town hall at 9 p.m. Tuesday.