Careers

'Roseanne' canceled after racist tweet by Roseanne Barr, proving what you say on social media matters

Roseanne Barr
Vera Anderson | Getty Images

ABC has announced that it is canceling the sitcom "Roseanne" after the show's star, Roseanne Barr, compared former Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.

In the since-deleted tweet, Barr wrote, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj," referring to Jarrett.

The star later apologized. "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste," Barr said.

But the damage was done. ABC announced within hours that it would end the program.

"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement Tuesday.

Barr's talent agency, ICM Partners, also wrote in an internal memo that it had dropped her as a client, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Though she may be the most famous example to date, Barr isn't the first person to lose their job over a social media post.

In 2017, CBS executive Hayley Geftman-Gold was fired for a Facebook comment in which she said that she did not have sympathy for the victims of the mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas because "country music fans are often Republican gun-toters." She later released an apology.

In 2013, IAC senior director of corporate communications Justine Sacco famously lost her job after tweeting, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" immediately before switching off her phone for a flight from New York to Cape Town, South Africa.

Sacco was fired by the company before her flight landed. She also issued an apology.

It's a reminder that what you say on social media matters. A single tweet can have tremendous, and swift, career ramifications.

Indeed, social media has become so powerful that experts warn you should watch your words and actions in any situation, lest someone else post them. Earlier this month, a video of New York lawyer Aaron Schlossberg unleashing a racist rant inside a Manhattan eatery went viral, leading him to be kicked out of his office space.

Behavior like Schlossberg's is definite grounds for termination says entrepreneur, investor and "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary.

"If you go on a racist rant, you've finished your career pretty well. And, if that's who you really are, your career should be finished," O'Leary told CNBC Make It. "What goes digital stays out there forever. Think about what you're saying and who you're saying it to with the assumption that somebody's listening, somebody's watching and somebody will post it. That's just the digital world we live in today."

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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