President Donald Trump weighed in on the racist Roseanne Barr tweet and ABC's reaction--it canceled her hit sitcom reboot--in his own tweet Wednesday (May 30), but did not condemn the racist comment, instead making the issue about him and turning it into yet another attack on the media.
The President, an avowed fan of Roseanne's show (both Barr and her character on the show are Trump supporters), appeared to be referring to ABC News coverage of him generally in seeking his apology since he has at one time or another accused most of the major broadcast, cable and print news outlets of being fake news and unfair critics, and has on occasion singled out ABC reporters for his opprobrium. As recently as Monday, the President had tweeted: "The Fake Mainstream Media has, from the time I announced I was running for President, run the most highly sophisticated & dishonest Disinformation Campaign in the history of politics."
A combative White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the President's tweet and was ready with some specifics on what about ABC's treatment of him deserved an apology. Here is the exchange, according to a White House transcript.
"Q: Has the President spoken to Roseanne Barr, who we know has been a longtime friend of his? And why did he choose to address the ABC apology, instead of the underlying issue of concerns about a racist comment that she tweeted out?
"Sanders: The President is simply calling out the media bias; no one is defending what she said. The President is the President of all Americans, and he's focused on doing what is best for our country.
"And you can see that in the actions that he's taken. You can see where he's focused on unemployment being at the lowest since 2000; opportunity investment zones to encourage investment in underserved communities; an opioid initiative to combat a crisis that impacts all Americans. And today the President signed legislation to give patients the right to try medication that could actually save their lives.
"And I'd point out that while the President signed that legislation and actually addressed America, two networks chose not to cover it, and instead covered something totally different in palace intrigue. A massive piece of legislation that had bipartisan support, that was life changing -- literally life changing for millions of Americans -- two networks chose not to cover the President's remarks on that.
"He's simply pointing out the bias. The President is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media, saying that the most horrible things about this President -- and nobody addresses it. Where was Bob Iger's apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the President and anyone associated with him a white supremacist; to Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the President on "The View" after a photo showed her holding President Trump's decapitated head? And where was the apology from Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive-laced tweets attacking the President as a Nazi, and even expanding Olbermann's role after that attack against the President's family?
"This is a double standard that the President is speaking about. No one is defending her comments. They're inappropriate, but that's what the point that he was making."
Broadcasting & Cable Newsletter
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.