UPDATE: It’s been fascinating to watch the many, fast-moving reactions to Roseanne Barr’s Twitter-fueled self-destruction, all in the space of one day. (Roseanne herself is asking fans not to defend her and blames her racist jibe at former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on tweeting at 2 a.m. while on Ambien. That sounds like a great idea. For all the criticism of the old Hollywood studio system, at least they understood how dangerous it was to let certain stars appear in public without a PR expert at their elbows to cover their mouths when they went off script.
It’s not as if ABC didn’t know what a ticking time bomb Roseanne was. They could have looked at her Twitter feed over the last few years, or her original series, where she went through showrunners and writers like a baby goes through diapers, doing pretty much the same thing to them. Speaking of that series, one of the reactions is that Viacom announced it was pulling her old show from its cable channels. That tweet was so powerful, it apparently went backward in time and tainted reruns that people have been watching for 20 years. It shows how deadly social media missteps have become: it took 60 women accusing Bill Cosby of sexual assault to get “The Cosby Show” erased from history; with Roseanne, it took one racist tweet.
But the first reaction came from ABC, which swiftly canceled her current series. That must have hurt, since it was a #1 hit at a time when networks are desperate for those. They didn’t have much choice, since most of the cast and creators refused to work with her anymore. It’s a shame all those people are unemployed due to the star’s lack of self-control (I know from experience that the folks on camera are only the tip of the iceberg in creating a TV show). Besides, it was doing something unique. Even as the left is trying to use Roseanne’s offensive tweet to tar all Trump supporters as racists, the show itself mostly hewed to the typical liberal slant of most sitcoms, but at least the writers tried to present a reasonably fair depiction of a blue collar, Middle-American, Trump-supporting family who had a legitimate beef with the way liberal policies had harmed them, like turning a blind eye to illegal immigration (a point once made by liberal hero, Caesar Chavez.)
Dan Conner (John Goodman) was a hard-working construction contractor nearing retirement age with no savings, and his wife needed a knee operation he couldn’t afford. In the season (now series) finale, even though he and his partner (who was African-American) bid the union minimum on a must-land drywall job, his competitors beat him out by hiring illegal immigrants. Dan didn’t blame the illegals; he said they were also desperate for work and were being exploited. But that still left him and his partner unable to support their families and at the end of their ropes.
This was an honest depiction of a real problem many Americans face. Yet when they complained about it, the left called them racists. In truth, they didn't "hate immigrants." The system failed them, and Trump simply promised to enforce longstanding immigration laws that protected them. That was a viewpoint that needed to be seen on network TV. Now, Roseanne’s erratic behavior has muddled it.
Other commenters mentioned the sharp contrast between the media cheering ABC’s axing of Roseanne and how other celebrities who’ve said offensive things about Republican women or Christians not only kept their shows but were celebrated for refusing to apologize. These included Keith Olbermann (now at Disney-owned ESPN after repeatedly calling Trump a "Nazi"), Joy Behar (who called Christians mentally ill on ABC’s “The View”), and the alleged comedian who viciously and unapologetically attacked my daughter and other female White House staffers at the Correspondents’ Dinner and was rewarded with praise for her “courage” and a Netflix series. But MSNBC took the “Clueless” Award by bringing on Joy Reid and asking what someone has to do to get fired from a network these days (click the link for a refresher course on what Joy did on Twitter, yet she’s still on MSNBC.)
Granted, many of the liberal comments cited weren’t racist, but were incredibly offensive, and in some cases, were based on perpetuating ugly, negative, false stereotypes about large groups of people different from them. Plus, you could ask Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Dr. Ben Carson and other prominent black conservatives how many times they’ve been the targets of racist slurs by liberals in the media and how many of them lost their jobs over it.
Still other commenters pointed out that many of the same media figures who praised ABC for taking swift action to silence Roseanne over making a statement that offended and alienated viewers were just last week savaging the NFL for infringing on the players’ free speech right to make a statement that offends and alienates viewers. At least Roseanne had the excuse that she made her offensive statement on her own time, not right in the middle of the show.
Again, none of this is to defend what Roseanne tweeted. Everyone should be aware that they are risking their jobs if their behavior offends and alienates customers and reflects badly on their employer (I explained this very concept last week in talking about the NFL controversy – and yes, many Americans sincerely find the players’ disrespect for the flag and the National Anthem to be deeply offensive.) The First Amendment protects you from government censorship, not from the consequences of your words.
Liberals who are trying to blame Roseanne’s tweet on the “culture created by Trump” conveniently forget that they’ve spent the past half-century or more deliberately shredding all the cultural niceties that used to prevent people from saying any stupid, obscene or offensive thing that popped into their heads. Looking over all the offensive, outrageous, insulting, racist, etc., statements over the past couple of years, it’s obvious to me that society would be better off if people on both sides not only stopped tweeting while on Ambien, but also resurrected a long-discarded piece of old-fashioned wisdom that I used to see on plaques and bumper stickers all the time when I was a kid, back before the 1960s “cultural revolution” removed all taboos on speech and behavior (except the ones the left would like to keep to silence their opponents). It went like this:
“Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear.”
Okay, I know this is just a minor concern that pales in significance next to the importance of woeful celebrity tweets, but when nobody was paying attention, Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy introduced a multi-part proposal Tuesday that he hopes will spark debate and action on lowering health care costs for Americans without harming quality of care.
You might remember Sen. Cassidy from last year, when he was unfairly attacked by Jimmy Kimmel who used Democratic talking points to paint him as an unfeeling tool of the insurance industry for his attempt to replace Obamacare. In fact, Cassidy is a physician who, before running for office, spent much of his time providing affordable health care to the poor. He co-founded a free clinic for the uninsured in Baton Rouge, helped set up a free vaccination program for poor school children and personally led a group of volunteers providing emergency care inside a converted Kmart after Hurricane Katrina. Granted, that doesn’t make him as great a humanitarian in the medias' eyes as someone who cries on a late night TV show, but it’s still pretty impressive.
Cassidy says that partisan gridlock has largely defined the health care debate, but there are six areas that could reduce the influence of lawyers and lobbyists and solve many of the problems. They are: empowering patients to reduce their health costs, lowering health insurance premiums, increasing competition in the marketplace, decreasing drug costs, cutting administrative red tape and reducing costs through prevention, primary care and chronic disease management.
I’m glad to hear someone is finally talking about this, especially preventing chronic diseases. This has long been a major issue for me: a huge chunk of health care costs go to managing diseases that are preventable with healthy lifestyle choices. I felt this personally when I was told by a doctor that if I didn’t lose weight and change my habits, I would be dead in less than 10 years from diabetes and obesity. I followed that advice. That was 15 years ago, and thank God, I’m still here and feeling great.
Sen. Cassidy already has lined up bipartisan support for a “health care price transparency initiative” to bring down prescription drug prices. I hope you’ll let your Senators and Representatives know that you’re fed up with paying through the nose for insurance while they sit on their rumps and point their fingers. It’s long past time for the quack practitioners of the politics of division to get out of the way and let a real doctor lead the way to better, more affordable health care for everyone.
I’ve heard of federal agencies “slow-walking” Freedom of Information Requests for documents. But when they claim the fastest they can produce requested data is somewhere between 45 and 66 years…that makes a dead snail look like Usain Bolt.
A big salute to the University of Memphis in Tennessee for stepping up to help children and spouses of killed or disabled military veterans get a college education. The school has long accepted the $5000 annual scholarships granted by the veterans’ charity, Folds of Honor. But that covers only about half of the $9700 in-state tuition. So the U of M announced that it will become the first university in America to accept $5000 Folds of Honor grants as payment in full for a complete year, picking up the rest of the tab itself.
The generous gesture inspired a Folds of Honor spokesman to declare the University of Memphis “the most patriotic university in America.” Sadly, there’s not much competition for that title these days. But if my saying that offends other universities, then I gladly challenge them to prove me wrong by adopting the same policy as the University of Memphis.
Another big story that got drowned out by the Roseanne brouhaha on Tuesday was that Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens resigned, becoming the first Governor of Missouri to quit the office since 1857.
Greitens is a Rhodes Scholar, former Navy SEAL and humanitarian who was named by Fortune as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. He was seen as a rising star in the GOP and a possible future President. He took office on a promise to clean up corruption, but was soon hit with numerous accusations involving anonymous campaign donations and a felony indictment connected to disturbing allegations by a woman with whom he had an affair. He blamed his troubles on political opponents, but with the allegations mounting (including a second felony charge for computer tampering) and impeachment talk rising, he abruptly resigned. It is one of the fastest and furthest falls from grace in political history.
This won’t make a major difference in the state’s political direction, since he’ll be replaced by a fellow Republican, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who will serve until 2021. Let’s hope for all concerned that the transition goes smoothly. I can assure Lt. Gov. Parson from experience that he’s lucky he’s not a Republican replacing a scandal-plagued Democratic Governor.
You’ve heard of fake news, of course. Well, here’s some fake health news you literally should not swallow: There is no such thing as a “sunscreen pill.” You protect your skin by putting something on your skin, not in your mouth.