WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump sought an apology on Thursday from an executive behind ABC’s cancellation of the sitcom “Roseanne” over a racist tweet by its star, citing critical coverage in the network’s news reporting on him.
Trump, who often complains about critical media coverage, did not mention the tweet by Roseanne Barr on Tuesday that compared black Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape. The posting led ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co, to cancel its hit revival of her show.
Jarrett said Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger called her before ABC announced the show’s cancellation.
Trump on Wednesday night tweeted that Iger never apologized to him for “the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
On Thursday, he targeted the executive again on Twitter: “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!”
The president singled out Ross, an ABC News journalist who reported erroneously in December that Trump’s fired national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was prepared to testify that Trump had asked him to contact Russian officials during his presidential campaign. The report came out after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.
Representatives for Disney and ABC News did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The White House said on Wednesday it did not defend the racist tweet by Barr, a Trump supporter. Trump has remained silent on that topic.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Wednesday that Trump was merely highlighting what she characterized as media bias, citing comments by ABC’s “The View” host Joy Behar about Vice President Mike Pence, comedian Kathy Griffin’s comments about Trump on the same program and ESPN’s recent hiring of television personality Keith Olbermann, who called Trump a white supremacist. The ESPN sports network is owned by Disney.
Iger last year quit a Trump advisory council because of the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The CEO is currently seeking U.S. government approval for a $52 billion purchase of film and television businesses from Trump ally Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.
In the past, Trump has cited the popularity of “Roseanne” as evidence that his supporters want shows that speak to their concerns.
Barr apologized for her tweet, saying she had made a bad joke and that she has been a longtime champion of civil rights.
Her former husband, Tom Arnold, said in interviews published on Wednesday that she wanted the rebooted show to be canceled, and that network executives should have taken away the phone she used to send tweets.
“It had to happen. ... And I am going to tell you the truth, she wanted it to happen, if you saw how her tweets escalated this weekend,” Arnold told The Hollywood Reporter.
In an interview with CNN, Arnold said: “I figured someone would take her phone away or monitor that, because it’s dangerous when you have that much (advertising) money on a show,” Arnold said.
Barr and Arnold were married in 1990 and divorced in 1994.
Disney shares slipped 1 percent to $98.94 on the New York Stock Exchange in midday Thursday trading.
Reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis