Roseanne Barr might have been the star of the most-watched sitcom during the 2017-2018 TV season, but that didn't mean firing her over a racist tweet was a difficult decision for Disney CEO Bob Iger. In a new interview with Oprah Winfrey, timed for the release of his memoir, Iger called the decision to fire Barr was an "easy" decision that took him five minutes to make. Barr was fired in May 2018, leading to Roseanne being cancelled and the spinoff The Conners being produced.
In May 2018, Barr compared Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes characters. ABC quickly fired her and canceled Roseanne, even though the revival earned higher ratings than The Big Bang Theory. Since then, Barr has apologized, insisting she was on Ambien at the time she published the tweet.
In his interview with Winfrey for her SuperSoul Sunday show, Iger said there was no circumstance that would make Barr's tweet "right."
"It took about five minutes to know what we had to do," Iger said of the decision to fire her. "It seemed completely insensitive, completely disrespectful. It was very clear. The decision, it was easy to make."
Iger continued, "What she had done was very, very clear. I didn’t believe any context could make this better or acceptable or could result in us forgiving her. So we did it. And you also know, in today’s world, if there’s a decision to be made by you, make it — because otherwise the world will make it for you, and that’s never good.”
Iger also wrote about the decision in his book, The Ride of a Lifetime. According to Insider, Iger said he made the decision himself to fire Barr.
.@robertiger shares his keys to success with @oprah this week on #SuperSoulSunday. We're bringing you two back-to-back episodes, starting at 11a|10c with Chanel Miller, following up with Bob Iger at 12|11c. pic.twitter.com/ybsATEyvma— SuperSoul Sunday (@SuperSoulSunday) September 27, 2019
"We don't have a choice here," Iger told ABC executives, according to the book. "We have to do what's right. Not what's politically correct, and not what's commercially correct. Just what's right."
Iger told them if any other Disney employee tweeted the same thing, they would be "immediately terminated" and they could not have a double standard here. Iger wrote that he asked his colleagues if they thought he was crazy, but there was no push back.
At first, the other executives did not think of firing Barr as an option. But Iger did not believe suspending Barr would be enough after the tweet.
Iger also wrote that he had a meeting with Barr about her infamous Twitter habits before she published the one that got her fired. He told her to "stay off Twitter."
"I never asked what the financial repercussions would be, and didn't care," Iger wrote of firing Barr. "In moments like that, you have to look past whatever the commercial losses are and be guided, again, by the simple rule that there's nothing more important than the quality and integrity of your people and your product... Everything depends on upholding that principle."0comments
The Conners is now in its second season. New episodes air on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: ABC