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Report: ABC Cancels "Roseanne" Show; Black ABC CEO Stops Show Because Of Racist Rants; Trump's New Accusation: Mueller Will Meddle in Midterm Elections. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:15] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Wolf Blitzer, thank you so. We're going to pick up right where you left off, hi everyone, Brooke Baldwin.. Breaking news in the world of entertainment.

The top-rated television comedy of the year is now cancelled. ABC just announced moments ago is canceling "Roseanne", a reboot of the comedy from comedian Roseanne Barr. The swift action coming after a series of racist tweets from the star herself, including this one, quoting her, Muslim brotherhood and Planet of the Apes had a baby, followed by the equal sign and the initials V.J. Who is V.J.? Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Barr then deleted that tweet and sent this apology, quote, I am truly sorry about making a bad joke about her politics and her looks, I should have known better. Forgive me, my joke was in bad taste.

And then the fallout continues and now the show is cancelled. So, let's have a huge discussion. Joining me now, CNN senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, who hosts "RELIABLE SOURCES." Solomon Jones is with us today, a newspaper columnist and a radio host on "Praise 107.9 FM" in Philadelphia.

Let me just go round robin, first Brian Stelter to you, on the news and the statement significantly coming from the first female black President of ABC Entertainment coming out and, I mean, her words, abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The same as many felt when they saw this tweets from Roseanne Barr, this lit a fire earlier in the day. ABC went silent for several hours. I figure they would just condemn her and move on.

BALDWIN: You were sitting in my office ten minutes ago saying I can't imagine, it's so popular.

STELTER: Because the show makes so much money. What we've been taught in society for years and years and years is that money speaks, money talks and ABC wouldn't walk away from such a lucrative program. But it has. I'm just texting with a Disney source asking what led to this decision. They're saying it's just simple, it's a question of right and wrong and a question of our company's values. A pretty simple answer from Disney, a giant multi-national conglomerate, all about families, inclusiveness and diversity and they felt they couldn't be associated with her anymore.

BALDWIN: Solomon, to you next, responding first, reacting to the fact that despite the popularity of this reboot of the show that they have cancelled her and also, I read, I'm not going to read it again, that tweet about Valerie Jarrett is outrageous.

SOLOMON JONES, RADIO HOST ON "PRAISE 107.9 FM": It is outrageous. But what it shows is that you have to have diversity in positions of power, not just people who are working at the lower rungs of a company but people in positions of power who can make these kinds of decisions. It is a very simple decision. It's been right or wrong. Are you going to put people over politics and values over money? They decided they were going to put values over money, people over politics and right over wrong. What Roseanne Barr said was wrong and no apology in the world can take away the fact that she's speaking from the heart. She said that because she meant that. You can't have people like that on television influencing where we're going as a country. I think ABC made absolutely the right decision.

BALDWIN: April, what are you thinking.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: I applaud ABC. This is more than just a moment because if this were to stand, it would send a message to many of those who like to do that. You know, this weekend, people were saying the same thing to me, it is not OK. And Valerie Jarrett did nothing. And Roseanne Barr attacked her. And Valerie Jarrett, a woman who is a proponent for women. That's the crazy thing. And then it's not about politics, it's not about gender, it's not about race, it's about humanity. And we've got to stop this. And I applaud -- not only that, Brooke, when I found out about it I was furious. I know Valerie Jarrett very well. And I was -- I was looking on Twitter to find out what happened but she didn't deserve that. No one deserved that, especially from that crazy perch that Roseanne sits in. Do that was wrong and she knew it was wrong.

[14:05:00] But, Brooke, more importantly, Roseanne and her reboot that just got the boot, she wanted to show all of America she has a black grandchild on that show. So, what is she saying about that black grandchild and to that black grandchild? We don't need to find out anymore because the show is gone. But there is a moment of victory for people who are trying to fight for morality and truth and what's right. Roseanne crossed the line and I applaud ABC.

BALDWIN: She has been crossing the line, though, she's been peddling these conspiracy theories for a long, long time. Brian, my question to you is we sat on the show after the first episode aired, talking about and put a whole segment together about all these controversial tweets. If we saw it coming, surely someone at ABC knew that she specifically would have been a risk.

STELTER: I've had this folks exactly with people at ABC in positions of power and the attitude up until today was you can't stop Roseanne from being Roseanne, she's controversial, shall tweet whatever is on her mind, that's what makes her so successful. They would say up until today was we know some of what she posts is ugly, we'd rather she not be on Twitter, but she is who she is, and you can't control Roseanne, you can't manage Roseanne.

I think that's been proven untrue today, you can cancel the show. ABC has been trying to represent the country. One of the way to reboot Roseanne was to speak to Trump America, trying to appeal to the heartland. There are lots of other reasons she is funny, the show is funny et cetera. But they were trying to appeal to the heartland and it worked. Remember President Trump celebrated the ratings after episode one aired. He said it was our show, they're talking about us. That was a worthwhile effort to appeal to a mainstream of America that sometimes doesn't feel represented on television.

I don't think that should be thrown away with this decision. The problem is that strain of intolerance that sometimes comes from a celebrity like Roseanne, from a Trump supporter on social media -- you never want to judge people based on the worst thing they've ever said, the worst act in their life, but there's a strain of intolerance in this Trump age that Roseanne was expressing and that was the tension for ABC. Can you get the reward of Roseanne and the tens of millions of viewers and take a risk she was going to tweet racist things? Ultimately, that risk reward backfired.

BALDWIN: It worked until it didn't. I've got Van Jones on the phone. I don't know if you've seen this statement. Your thoughts, sir?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, some things apparently are more important than money, even to a big corporation likes ABC Disney and that is very heartening. Because we've been in a moral freefall for at least three years. To my point of view, one of the great things is -- it is in fact important that red state America be better represented in the media, but they can have a better representative than a rank bigot who is a conspiracy theorist and who is trashing good people in this country. Valerie Jarrett served with distinction and through some of the toughest moments of American history, whether you're talking about the great recession, about Osama Bin Laden. I'm ashamed to say this, I thought she was probably going to get away with it. I was actually as shocked as everybody else when there were actually consequences. Consequences for racism in America?

I think you're starting to see like today with Starbucks trying to be on the better side of this conversation or what ABC did today, it could be this moral collapse is being counterbalanced now by people in mainstream media, mainstream corporations who say we don't want to live in a country when decent people can be attacked for no reason. It not a joke. It's not funny.

[14:10:00] The dehumanization of people of color, calling us animals, calling us apes and animals, justifying exclusion from businesses and universities and this is part of a long and nasty history and apparently ABC Disney doesn't want it to be a part of our future. And I'm glad that in some places in America some things are more important than money and I'm glad.

BALDWIN: On that, I want to get a break-in. Everyone standby we are staying on this breaking story. Really significant story out of ABC today that this incredibly popular, well rated, how many million?

STELTER: 20 million.

BALDWIN: 20 million viewers tuning into Roseanne every week, it's over because of outrageous, racist tweets from the star herself. We're back in a moment.


BALDWIN: So, we're back with this breaking news that this mega, mega ABC network hit, the reboot of the "Roseanne" show is cancelled because of outrageous tweets she made herself. Brian Stelter, the news came from a woman by the name of Channing Dungy. She's the first African-American female to head ABC Entertainment. The fact that this single statement saying that the show came from her is significant because?

STELTER: Because she is reflecting the diversity that has frankly been missing from Hollywood for decades. For too long the studios and networks have mostly been run by Caucasian men. That remains true today. She is one of the most prominent black women in Hollywood and surely there were other executives Bob Iger and to it's a sign that how the entertainment world is too slowly but is changing. It plays a role in whose voices are supported and whose voices are not.

BALDWIN: Let's remind everyone also, two months ago, guys throw the Trump tweet up on the screen, I just want to show everyone what the president tweeted about the show, the reboot debut. The ratings came in and it was insanely popular. He said "look at Roseanne, look at her ratings, they were unbelievable, over 18 million people. And it was about us. They haven't figured it out yet."

April Ryan, you cover this man day in and day out at the White House, "it was about us, they haven't figured that out yet." I'm wondering, too, about the backlash, this is L.A. and New York and making this decision about Trump America, so many people tuned in and now it's over.

RYAN: Well, there's a couple levels to this. I guess they're hearing this. I must be one of those the president was talking about because I watched the first episode because I was excited to see what she had done. That first episode was very entertaining, and it did deal with politics. One side against the other. It was, I thought it was entertaining. But here's the problem -- the problem is he fact that it's us versus them. This president says he wants to be president of all America but he's strategically going in for middle America. Just middle America alone.

What Roseanne Barr did, she once again went to that base with that negative comment about Valerie Jarrett. And this is not the first time, we all, to include the president's base, knows what Roseanne puts out. She's made negative statements about African-Americans, saying we look like "Planet of the Apes." And when you point one finger you have a couple fingers pointing back at you, let's remember that. She also made negative comments about our Jewish brothers and sisters and for all Americans, our patriots. What did she do when she did the national anthem, screamed and screeched and grabbed her crotch. She basically said screw America. This is something we've known. A dear friend of mine just sent me a text and it's poignant. He said ABC just let her go, but will someone or who will pick her up? That's a question. If they do, it sends a resounding message to that base. Right now, she's a hot potato. But if someone picks this show up, it sends a message to us what happened with ABC means nothing. A big piece of this, when Wanda Sykes walked away as executive producer over this, that's saying something. It's a huge moment in this Trump era where race is on the table and we're trying to figure this out.

STELTER: If I can just add what Bob Iger just tweeted, the CEO of Disney, he said there's only one thing to do here and that was the right thing. This is another example of corporate America trying to be on the right side of history.

[14:20:00] But we should examine why is Barr so susceptible to these crazy conspiracy theories, why are people so susceptible to these theories that George Soros was a Nazi, Valerie Jarrett is a Muslim. Where do people get this from? They get it from the Internet and that spreads virally and infects people and that's a problem not just for Roseanne but for a lot of folks. So, it is great to corporate America can take a stand and Disney is not the only company doing that. Starbucks today --

BALDWIN: I wanted to asked Solomon about that. Solomon, you're sitting there in Philadelphia, right? That's where the incident happened when those guys were -- got the police called on them for hanging out before their buddy got to the store and today's the day that Starbucks closed its stores for racial bias training. With that also in the ether. What are you thinking?

JONES: I think this represents an evolution I think of thoughts both in the media and in corporate America. Media-wise, Disney has evolved from a company that started out with amusement parks that did not welcome black people to a conglomerate that has a black woman in charge that says the racism that this company started with is no longer acceptable and I am making that decision.

And the other part of it is Starbucks and them making the decision to say we're going to slowly and systematically address what is going on with racism in our stores and how it connects to our policies and how it empowers people to call the cops. This wasn't the first time the young woman had called the police. The police presence had increased at that store overtime since she had been there, so she had become comfortable doing it because the company allowed her to do it. What ABC is saying now is that, no, we are not going to allow this, we're going to handle it, not slowly and systematically but we're going to handle it immediately. What that says to me concerning Starbucks is that racism has to be something that is handled over time, it has to be something that is handled decisively because one afternoon of sensitivity training in Starbucks is nice, but it doesn't erase hundreds of years of racism. RYAN: That's true. I want to get in on this real quick, if I can.

That is absolutely true. I believe that race training is great. But you know what, if you have the training, you got have some teeth behind it, too, to say if you do this, you'll be suspended or fired. You got to make it so people can say I can't do that. Just talking about it is one thing. You're not looking for kumbaya moments. You can't just have your blonde latte, you have to put your teeth into it.

BALDWIN: Blonde latte, April Ryan, let me read with civil rights icon, John Lewis just tweeted, and Van I want to come to you, you are still on the phone I hear, "thank you ABC network you did the right thing, there is not any room in our society for racism or bigotry."

JONES: No better words, no better American than John Lewis to speak on this. I want to also say I think Starbucks does deserve some credit. They brought in some real heavy hitters, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Heather McGee and incredible leaders going just beyond this one day. I think it gets presented as a one-day thing, but I think it's more than a one-day thing with regard to Starbucks.

With regard to what this means and how this might be absorbed, it is in fact the case when it comes to culture, when it comes to media, when it comes to art and increasingly when it comes to corporate America, the idea that we should treat everybody with respect, we should treat everybody with dignity, that everybody counts, everybody matters, those ideas have gained a big foothold there. In our politics we're seeing a backlash against some of those ideas and people who don't run big corporations and who don't have a toe hold in Hollywood fired back and fought back at the ballot box in 2016. I think ABC/Disney was doing the right thing to figure out ways to better engage and better represent different points of view. They did the wrong thing by picking Roseanne in the first place. We knew what kind of a person she was and what kind of views she represented.

[14:25:00] And there are red state voices that are not being heard that are much more intelligent, much more wise and less bigoted than Roseanne Barr. Now we're in danger that Roseanne Barr is the only red state representative of America, she got booted, therefore they don't care about us. It's going to be important for Disney to say we want to hear from everybody. But you cannot disrespect and demean whole categories of people. You can represent your group, but can you cannot crap on other groups and have a place in modern life.

BALDWIN: Yes, bye-bye. Thank you all. Plus, as a president floats a new conspiracy theory, is his strategy against Bob Mueller working? We're going to discuss that next.


BALDWIN: We're back. I'm Brooke Baldwin, another day, another slew of Trump treats, another lie, another conspiracy theory, another falsehood. Call it what you will, there are critics screaming this isn't normal but it's working for Republicans. We'll get to that in just a moment.

I want to really step back and dissect exactly what the president is saying here and why it matters. Today the president has said the special counsel investigation is rigged. He accused the Justice Department and FBI of meddling in the midterms. He's called for a federal investigation of his opponents and he has claimed the Justice Department attorneys are pushing a political agenda.

So, let's break each one of those down. Trump said the special counsel investigation is rigged, quoting him, the 13 angry Democrats, plus people who worked eight years for Obama working on the rigged Russia witch hunt. The rigged Russia witch hunt has resulted in guilty pleas and charges brought against all of these people on your screen.