Two months ago, Roseanne Barr was a star again.
Her sitcom “Roseanne” returned in March after a two-decade absence to enormous ratings on ABC. Network executives were celebrating their strategy of appealing to wider swaths of the country after Donald J. Trump’s surprising election win and the president himself called Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the show’s large audience.
But on Tuesday, that all came crashing down. ABC abruptly canceled “Roseanne” hours after Ms. Barr, the show’s star and co-creator, posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency and considered one of his most influential aides. Ms. Barr wrote if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
Ms. Barr later apologized, but it was too late. In announcing the show’s cancellation, ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said in a statement that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
• Ms. Barr crossed a line, and ABC drew one, our TV critic writes.
• In a world where immediate outrage is possible, corporations in trouble do best when they consider “the golden hour” of crisis response. But it’s not always a clear-cut decision.
• Hours after ABC canceled her reboot of “Roseanne,” Ms. Barr returned to Twitter and posted more than 100 times.
• President Trump responded to the fury over “Roseanne,” but not Ms. Barr’s racist remarks.
• “She would tweet stuff, then apologize and get off Twitter, and then it would get better. And then it would blow up again.” This is what it was like to work on the “Roseanne” show.
• In ending “Roseanne,” an ABC executive made her voice heard, and became an instant celebrity.
• The maker of the drug Ambien responded to Ms. Barr’s explanation for her rant: “Racism is not a known side effect.”
“Roseanne” had ended its successful comeback season last week and was expected to return in September for a 13-episode run. Robert A. Iger, the chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s corporate parent, shared Ms. Dungey’s statement on his own Twitter account, adding: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”
The sudden cancellation of a hit show — it had the highest ratings of a new TV series in years — because of offscreen controversy was almost without precedent.
The show brought in an estimated $45 million of advertising revenue for ABC this year, and the network likely would have collected more than $60 million next season, according to Kantar Media.
The move was decided by top Disney and ABC executives, including Ms. Dungey who was appointed to her role in February 2016, becoming the first black entertainment president of a major broadcast television network. She had the backing of Ben Sherwood, the head of ABC’s television group, and Mr. Iger, who was involved in the process starting very early on Tuesday, according to two Disney insiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe company matters.
On a phone call with ABC and her representatives shortly before the show was canceled, Ms. Barr expressed remorse for the tweet but did not seem to be fully aware of the potential implications for her sitcom, according to a person familiar with the phone call who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was private.
For Disney, there was more at stake than a hit show. The company has been widely praised in recent years as a leader in efforts to combat racial stereotypes through its movies and TV series, whether on “Doc McStuffins,” a Disney Channel cartoon about an African-American girl who wants to be a doctor; “How to Get Away With Murder,” a vehicle for Viola Davis that led her to become the first black woman to win a lead-actress Emmy; and “Black Panther,” which proved that movies rooted in black cultureand with predominantly black casts could become global blockbusters.
If Disney did not act forcefully with regard to “Roseanne,” much of that work might have been rendered moot.