When Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist insult directed at former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett on Tuesday, ABC didn’t hesitate. The network cancelled Roseanne, the star’s rebooted sitcom, within hours of the message appearing on Twitter.
The swiftness of that decision—and the statement from ABC President Channing Dungey explaining why—has sparked interest in the network chief.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Dungey said.
Dungey isn’t new to the Disney-owned network. She joined ABC sibling ABC Studios in 2004. In 2009, she was ABC Entertainment Group’s drama chief and helped develop and launch numerous hit shows including Shonda Rimes’ Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder as well as Quantico, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Once Upon a Time.
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In 2016, Dungey made history when she became the first African American—and first black woman—to ever head a major television network. Dungey succeeded Paul Lee. Since taking the top spot at ABC, Dungey has overseen and guided a variety of programming, including bringing back Roseanne. The rebooted version became the most watched show on television when it debuted in March of 2018.
Roseanne was a 1990s sitcom that won praise for its portrayal of the working-class Conner family. The show ran for nine seasons from 1988 to 1997. The revival’s launch was a smashing success that attracted 18.2 million total viewers, making it the highest-rated sitcom broadcast in more than three years, according to AdWeek.
ABC picked up the revival for a second season just two days after the premiere hour-long episode debuted. Dungey said in late March that ABC “can’t wait to see what the Roseanne team has in store for next year.”
That is, until Barr’s tweet prompted Dungey to kill off its most successful show.
Dungey’s move was quickly backed by Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company.