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"Roseanne" Cancelled after Controversial Tweet from Show's Star; Roseanne Barr Tweets Apologies and Defense after Show Cancellation; Trump Says Without Proof that Mueller Team Will Meddle in Midterms Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 8:00   ET


[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Red state America can have a better representative than Roseanne Barr.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tone does start at the top, but it's up to all of us to push back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a joke, it was a miscalculated joke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ABC knew what they were getting in to when they signed up Roseanne.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't condemn things like this, then you're complicit.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They had people infiltrating our campaign. Can you imagine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI did exactly what citizens would want them to do. It has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president directly asked the attorney general to un-recuse in the Russia investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It may be that this is an appropriate use of his authority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has tried to do everything he can to either dismiss the investigation or just to get it to stop.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, May 30th, 8:00 in the east. A lot going on. Roseanne Barr is still on Twitter at this moment. For the last 10 hours she has been at it, defending herself after she was fired from one of the most popular TV shows for racist comments about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. So far we're talking about more than 150 tweets and retweets. I can't say it but she's doing it. She says she thought that Valerie Jarrett was white, Saudi, or Iranian, and not African- American.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: At one point Roseanne blamed Ambien, the drug, for the racist tweets. She has now deleted that tweet interestingly. Roseanne even suggests that she was fired somehow because of her support for President Trump. In one tweet early this morning she paints both herself and the president as victims. She said "I feel bad for POTUS. He goes through this every single day."

As for President Trump, who had initially rapped himself in Roseanne's rating, you'll remember, he has so far been silent about this whole thing. So let's begin our coverage with CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter. We thought that she was saying good night but then she came back with a vengeance. What's happening?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Excuses, excuses, excuses, that's what's happening. We are seeing Barr trying to say she's sorry, trying to apologize, but then in the next breath she's making excuses, blaming this on a liberal media double standard, saying she is the real victim. Here's the sense of how we got here in this head-spinning 24 hours.


STELTER: Roseanne Barr making excuses for her racist tweet, comparing one of President Obama's top advisers, Valerie Jarrett to an ape. Barr now blames the sleeping pill Ambien and claims that she did not know that Jarrett is black. Despite initially apologizing, the star is now suggesting that her show was canceled due to her support for President Trump.

ROSEANNE BARR, COMEDIAN: Thank you for making America great again.

STELTER: But Barr undermining her own apology with a torrent of retweets from fans portraying her as a victim of a liberal double standard. The comedienne also retweeting a number of fake and offensive posts, including this fake yearbook quote claiming Jarrett wanted to change America to be a more Islamic country, also later deleted. Jarrett is taking the high road, responding to Barr's initial tweet on Tuesday night.

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR OBAMA ADVISER: I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I'm fine. I'm worried about all the people out there who don't have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense. Those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.

STELTER: Executives at ABC and Disney decided within hours to end the show. First speaking with Roseanne by phone, then publicly announcing the cancellation writing, "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values." Disney CEO Bob Iger adding "There was only one thing to do here and that was the right thing." Roseanne's talent agency, ICM Partners, also dropping her as a client.

Behind the scenes, some of Roseanne's costars were already planning to quit, including actress Emma Kenney who plays Roseanne's granddaughter, and Wanda Sykes one of the show's consulting producers. But Barr has spent years posting derogatory material online and pedaling rightwing conspiracy theories. Recently she falsely accused the survivor of the Parkland massacre of giving a Nazi salute at a protest. That was based on a doctored photo.

She also promoted the Pizza-gate conspiracy, falsely claiming that Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of this Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant. This time, though, ABC said she had gone too far. President Trump meantime keeping silent about the controversy Tuesday night despite praising Roseanne when the show premiered in March.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at Roseanne. I called her yesterday. Look at her ratings. They were unbelievable. Over 18 million people, and it was about us.

STELTER: Trump's son, however, did weigh in retweeting two of Roseanne's outlandish tweets calling billionaire Democratic donor George Soros a Nazi who turned in his fellow Jews to be murderer. Trump Jr. insisting that Barr's tweet was not anti-Semitic.


[08:05:02] STELTER: That Soros stuff is nasty. A lot of it is nasty. All of these tweets, the bogus stuff Roseanne's been tweeting overnight, it just affirms ABC's decision to can her. Her Twitter feed has had a manic feel in the past few hours. She's posting, she's sharing, she's thanking her fans. Then she's un-retweeting people, deleting stuff. She took down all those tweets about Ambien.

But here's her most recent comment to a fan. She said thanks for supporting me. I gave them the weapon to kill me. I was not equipped to take all the heat. I cracked and made a stupid, insensitive joke, and it's my fault. She's taking some responsibility in some breaths, but then she's claiming she's the victim in other breaths. It's a very confusing response from Roseanne. It is not what any PR person or any crisis communication person would ever tell you to do.

CAMEROTA: The other strange thing, Brian, just quick, is that ABC obviously knew what they were getting. She's a provocateur. They hired her in part for that. But then when the snake bites you they've hired, then it goes too far.

STELTER: The head of ABC was quoted a couple months ago, Ben Sherwood, as saying you can't control Roseanne. People have tried and they've failed. You can't control Roseanne. But you can choose whether to give her a show and you can choose whether to cancel it. So Disney's being praised now for canceling the show, but we still have to scrutinize the decision to bring it back in the first place.

CAMEROTA: Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

Joining us now to discuss all this, we have CNN political analyst Josh Green and national reporter for the "Washington Post" Wes Lowry. Wes, I think the shame about this is that the show was trying to do something, it was trying to capture what America nowadays looks like. She had this melting pot of a family and it did deal with -- there were people from different races in her family now. There were people with gender issues and sexuality issues, and they were trying to show this more sort of complicated patchwork of a family. But the truth is she is still Roseanne Barr despite those creative good impulses. She has personal bad impulses.

WES LOWRY, NATIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Of course. It speaks to what you were just talking about. The reality is Roseanne has behaved this way publicly for years. ABC knew what it was signing up for when it signed her to this massive contract and built and rebuilt this large brand around her. We know in this environment or in any environment that we're not going to separate the art from the artist this way. If you have someone who is spewing racist vindictive on the Internet, people are going to get very upset if that person is rewarded with multi-million-dollar contracts and big promotional deals.

And so this is not something that is completely surprising. And I will say something we haven't talked about in a few sentences on this is ABC also just not long ago refused to air an episode of another show, "Blackish," that shows a black family in this world and that was an episode that dealt with athletes kneeling. And so the network was already dealing with some scrutiny about how it was handling hot button political issues on one hand and on the other hand has the star, arguably the face of its primetime lineup right now, out here advancing crazy George Soros conspiracy theorists and making attacks on Valerie Jarrett. And so I do think they had to do something.

BERMAN: It's interesting, Josh. The president, we should note, has not tweeted in roughly 24 hours right now.

CAMEROTA: Is Twitter broken?

BERMAN: Twitter might be broken, or the president's hands might not be working, as big and beautiful as they are. The president did this event last night, Josh Green. He did not talk about Roseanne. Sarah Sanders says he doesn't have the time to focus on it. But Roseanne is talking about President Trump. Roseanne is suggesting to a certain extent through her retweets overnight that the reason she was fired was because of her support for President Trump. One of the last things she said on Twitter, or when she thought she was going dark at 5:45, she said "I feel bad for POTUS. He goes through this every single day." You wrote the book on Steve Bannon who to an extent has been criticized by some as being racist but tried to tap in I think to the white working class in a similar way that Roseanne show tried to do it I think maybe right now. But this sentiment, this flat out racist comment about Valerie Jarrett, that's not part of that, is it?

JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I'd flip this around. I think Roseanne was hired in large part because of her support for Trump and because ABC was so desperate to reach this crowd of Trump voters that a lot of people in Hollywood don't feel they understand, and the show did that.

The problem is racism may work in the political marketplace, in some areas of it, because Republican voters by and large have been willing to allow this and elect somebody like Donald Trump president. But it can't work in the consumer marketplace because a show like that goes to all sorts of people, liberals, independents, minorities, young people who won't put up with these kinds of racist sentiments. And there is a serious price to pay for any company that would back that kind of behavior.

I think ABC saw pretty clearly that if they didn't cancel the show they were going to face a massive corporate backlash, backlash from viewers, boycott campaigns. We've seen these kinds of things happen in the past, and I think ABC decided wisely that wasn't a fight they wanted to get into, so they went ahead and canceled the show.

[08:10:09] But I don't think this has anything to do with Roseanne's support for Trump. It's the fact that she's out on Twitter making racist statements.

CAMEROTA: It's not just racist statements. The craziest crackpot conspiracy theories she's been peddling. The Pizza-gate, the ones that are so beyond the pale. At first blush, anybody, who is a critical thinker says oh, my God, what is this fresh hell, and she believes it and she's been retweeting it, and so has Don Jr., the president's son. OK, he's not in the administration, but still he has millions of followers, and I don't hear the president shutting him down and tell him not to retweet this garbage, Wes?

LOWRY: Of course. I do think there's a little danger in underestimating the number of people who do believe these things. We've seen this time and time again with Alex Jones and all the conspiracy theories around the mass shootings, the Pizza-gate stuff, that there is and there are millions of people out there who buy this nonsense, and it's unsurprising that some of those people are really prominent and famous. So I do think we ought to be cognizant of that.

But that said, this has been someone who cannot get out of their own way. Someone who loves these conspiracy theories more than they love money, clearly, because she's allowed this to cut off one of her major revenue sources here. In these explanations throughout the morning and the last day have been really baffling, that it's Ambien's fault. I'm still waiting for a statement from Ambien. Perhaps their PR reps will reach out and say something about that. That she thought Valerie Jarrett was Jewish, which I think is pretty confusing since this was about her being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and last I checked they're not the biggest fans necessarily of Jewish people. And so everything about this is a hole that's being dug deeper and deeper and deeper. And sometimes you've just got to put your phone away, delete the Twitter app and stop not even while you're ahead, while you're already pretty far behind.

BERMAN: She also suggested that Valerie Jarrett was Saudi, and the whole Saudi-Jew thing is hard. It's hard to figure out how to thread that needle.

CAMEROTA: She's not a critical thinker. Let's just be honest. She's not a critical thinker. She might have been a funny comedian and a creative actress on TV, but she's not a critical thinker. And for whatever reason she bathes in this stuff, and it's amazing that in this day and age she hadn't learned that lesson.

BERMAN: But one of the big questions we face this morning, again, as she tries to wrap herself in President Trump and ABC may have put on this show to begin with because it wanted to appeal to Trump supporters, is the 10 million people watching this every week I don't believe were watching this to hear Roseanne make an incredibly racist joke --

CAMEROTA: Of course not.

BERMAN: -- about Planet of the Apes and Valerie Jarrett. Josh, there are people who want to hear something but not that, correct?

GREEN: I think that's absolutely right. I don't think there was anything wrong with the show. Clearly it was canceled because of Roseanne Barr's behavior and her personal life on Twitter and the fact that she was this raging racist and conspiracy theorist. That's not an association that ABC is going to allow going forward because it would take such a toll on not only their reputation but I have no doubt their bottom line as well. If they tried to defend Roseanne, if they tried to endure this, there would have been massive protests. You just can't do that sort of thing.

So again, this is something that is acceptable in the White House. Trump can do this. He's tweeted racist things. He's tweeted anti- Semitic imagery during the campaign, still got elected president. I think what we're seeing here in part is the difference between acting in a political realm and acting in a commercial realm. Roseanne, while she has an awful lot in common with President Trump from her views on race to her inability to control her tweeting, didn't seem to understand that ultimately she is an entertainer that has to work for a broad audience and if she behaves that way it's going to cost her her job, and now it has.

CAMEROTA: And of course the point is that President Trump can control his tweeting since he's not commenting on this.

GREEN: For the last 24 hours, that's not exactly a long track record.

CAMEROTA: This is a pretty juicy one that he's choose to go bow out of it. OK, Wes Lowry, Josh Green, thank you both very much.

BERMAN: Thank you, guys.

CAMEROTA: Now to this story. House Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy shoots down President Trump conspiracy theory of an FBI spy being planted in his campaign. So can we now put the issue to rest? We take that up next.


[08:18:13] CAMEROTA: President Trump made an evidence-free claim that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators will meddle in the midterm elections.

What's the effect of claims like that? Joining us now is Matt Schlapp. He's the former political director

for George W. Bush and chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Good morning, Matt.


CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

Matt, do you ever worry when the president says things like this that undercut our institutions like the FBI, like our election system, when he says things like there's a spy planted by the FBI in his campaign when he says that somehow the election results will not be able to be believed, I guess, in the midterms? Does that worry you that at some point will do irreparable damage?

SCHLAPP: There's a lot to unpack there, Alisyn. I would say this, that I do worry about our institutions. I think the president has taken on all types of enemies and institutions. People who criticize him.

And I do worry when it comes to the FBI that there's been long-term damage, not because the president has attacked them, but because as -- because the president attacked them, we've had this unveiling of how the FBI interacted at the end of the Obama administration.

I think, Alisyn, you would agree, even a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters were scratching their heads and they believe Comey's actions caused her to lose, not the Russians caused her to lose, but that Jim Comey's actions ten days before, so --

CAMEROTA: I remember this history. But do you think -- but, hold on, Matt. Just to be clear. Do you think that they planted a spy in Donald Trump's --

SCHLAPP: Yes, I do. I have people --

CAMEROTA: Based on what?

SCHLAPP: I have people in Republican politics because this spy has Republican ties who know him that he has been hired to kind of do dirty tricks in past political campaigns.

[08:20:01] CAMEROTA: Uh-huh.

SCHLAPP: And I think that the people that I've met with and talked to several people from the Bush years who were in the national security apparatus.


SCHLAPP: And there's consensus with those folks that if it's true, as Mr. Clapper says, that Obama and Trey Gowdy says that Obama was taking the appropriate steps to try to stop Russian meddling, all of the Republicans, I've talked to say the same thing, which is, you would have told both campaigns, both the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign what Russia was up to, you would have fully briefed them --

CAMEROTA: They did brief them, Matt. They did brief them.

SCHLAPP: Let me finish and you would have coordinated -- this is -- that is not right.

CAMEROTA: It is right.

SCHLAPP: It would have coordinated --

CAMEROTA: James Comey went over to talk to Donald Trump.


SCHLAPP: Alisyn, I think this is a really --

CAMEROTA: You're going down a strange road. You think that the FBI --

SCHLAPP: I have to answer your question.

CAMEROTA: And you're not doing it. You believe that the FBI planted a spy --


CAMEROTA: -- in the Trump campaign?


CAMEROTA: Are you using spy and informant interchangeably?

SCHLAPP: What I have --

CAMEROTA: I'm just curious.

SCHLAPP: What I believe has nothing to do with this.

CAMEROTA: No, I'm asking what you believe.

SCHLAPP: Let's define it. Was the man under contract with the United States government? Was he using an alias trying to get information saying he was a Cambridge professor, not saying he was there under the auspices of working for the FBI?


SCHLAPP: And was he trying to get information in order to pass it back to the United States government? Was he doing those three things?

CAMEROTA: Hey, Matt, when --

SCHLAPP: Why don't you -- come on, let's go both ways.

CAMEROTA: Let's do it. Hey, Matt, this is what blows my mind. SCHLAPP: Was he doing those three things?

CAMEROTA: Matt, as you know, I ask the questions of you. Here's my question, when the FBI uses a source in MS-13 to find out what they're doing is that a spy or is that a source and informant to figure out what MS-13 is doing?

SCHLAPP: If you're going to equate, I would call it spying.

CAMEROTA: OK. Hold on, so they're spying on MS-13. Do you want the FBI to try to figure out when --


CAMEROTA: -- somebody is doing something untoward?



SCHLAPP: But the reason why --

CAMEROTA: So why you're saying they're spying when they're trying to find out if Russia had infiltrated?

SCHLAPP: It was a paid informant --


SCHLAPP: -- working on behalf of the United States government.

CAMEROTA: You know that's what the FBI does.

SCHLAPP: In order to get information and here's the big difference. Donald Trump is not MS-13, Alisyn, and this is where you all make the big mistake.

CAMEROTA: This is where you make the mistake, Matt.

SCHLAPP: Let me finish now. MS-13 is a gang that creates havoc and crime in our society.


SCHLAPP: Donald Trump was the dually nominated Republican candidate.


SCHLAPP: And what they should have done instead of trying to trap him, they should have worked with him to push back on what Putin was trying to do and that is the big mistake.

CAMEROTA: Let me speak now, Matt, because you made your point. Here's the point you're missing. In this analogy they're not trying to trap Donald Trump, nobody is saying.

SCHLAPP: Yes, they are.

CAMEROTA: No, they're not. There's no evidence of that.

SCHLAPP: Yes, there is.

CAMEROTA: What they're trying to do is rundown George Papadopoulos' words that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton and it was going to be releasing a cache of emails. How did George Papadopoulos know that?

It was so alarming to the Australian diplomat that they alerted the FBI about it. Russia is the MS-13 in this comparison. If you find out that there is a foreign foe trying to do something, call it MS-13, call it Russia, you don't want the FBI to look into that.

SCHLAPP: I think --

CAMEROTA: Hold on, answer this question, what did you want the FBI to do when they got that information from the Australian diplomat, ignore it?

SCHLAPP: No, I think they should have completely prosecuted the case against all this untoward and illegal activity on behalf of Putin's government.

CAMEROTA: Prosecuted a case they were trying to get the information first.

SCHLAPP: Which is happened in several elections and what my answer to you is, I think the appropriate thing, instead of -- if Hillary had won, we wouldn't know any of this.


SCHLAPP: But Donald Trump won and what it has unfortunately done in the FBI -- for those of us -- maybe not for other folks, but for those of us that support Donald Trump, it looks like when Hillary Clinton had wrongdoing and the FBI was faced with that, they whitewashed it.

When Donald Trump did not have wrongdoing but some shirttail campaign consultant, George Papadopoulos, had some -- had some drunken remarks at a bar.


SCHLAPP: -- the FBI completely went after and infiltrated the Trump campaign and I don't think that is a fair approach.


CAMEROTA: Matt, just answer me this, when the FBI gets information that Russia is trying to turn George Papadopoulos perhaps into a stooge, what do you want them to do? Investigate or not?

SCHLAPP: I can keep answering this. What I would have done if I was involved in this decision making and I knew that in America, we elect either Democrats or Republicans. So, if you're going to put a spy, which we have both agreed it was a spy into one of the campaigns, you have to do it in a way where it doesn't look like you're being political.

[08:25:00] CAMEROTA: You're not answering my question, Matt.


SCHLAPP: Yes, I am. The answer is -- I've given the answer -- do you want the --


CAMEROTA: Yes or not. Do you want the FBI to look into Russian meddling --

SCHLAPP: Yes. They did. They unfortunately did it in a way, Alisyn, where I believe it wasn't just about Russian meddling. I believe that the FBI believed that Donald Trump and if you look at a lot of the coverage of Donald Trump over the last 18 months, you can see this, was not the right person to be the president of the United States --



SCHLAPP: -- and he believed he was outside the range of responsible choosing in a presidential campaign and they wanted to do everything they could -- look at all the unmasking that happened on Trump colleagues, look at the fact that they were listening in and spying is the latest step. And so, to me, it was clear that when it came to team Trump, they believed that there was significant wrongdoing and they would catch him in the wrongdoing. It wasn't about stopping Russia. It was about stopping Trump.

CAMEROTA: Right. That's not what the FBI was doing. They were trying to see what Russia was doing. But any event, let's not stop right there, Matt, because --

SCHLAPP: We might disagree on that.

CAMEROTA: Not only do we disagree, the people who have seen the intelligence which you and I have not --

SCHLAPP: I have not seen it.

CAMEROTA: Nor have I.

The people who have seen the intelligence say that there was no spy. Here's Trey Gowdy.

SCHLAPP: That's one person. That's not the people. That's one person.

CAMEROTA: Listen to this, listen to him, first, Matt. Here's Trey Gowdy.



REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.


CAMEROTA: How do you explain that, matt?

SCHLAPP: Yes, I disagree with Trey Gowdy.

CAMEROTA: He's seen the intel and you haven't.

SCHLAPP: But a lot of people who have seen the intel agree with me and you know that. You're not quoting the other Republicans who have seen the intel. So --

CAMEROTA: No, yes, I am actually. Matt, nobody came out of that intel, that classified intel meeting and said, aha, there's a smoking gun. They call came out and said nothing new here. Even Mitch McConnell.

SCHLAPP: Yes, because he said, no, no, I heard Mitch McConnell. He said, I would not comment on classified meeting.

CAMEROTA: He sure didn't sound like there was something that set his hair on fire, Matt.

SCHLAPP: He said, I won't. Nope, he said -- go look at the transcript on NPR, which happened right after that meeting. He said I will not characterize the meeting in a positive or negative way. I will not discuss the meeting. I will not discuss classified meetings.

CAMEROTA: There was nothing new that changed his mind. What about Marco Rubio?

SCHLAPP: He didn't say --


CAMEROTA: Marco Rubio has also said no spy.

SCHLAPP: He did not say that. Nope. Marco did not say that. Marco said that he might have done things differently. He used different language. He didn't clearly say there was no spying. He didn't say it.

CAMEROTA: Is it possible you're practicing selective hearing, Matt?

SCHLAPP: No. Alisyn, look, I'll be direct with you. I understand there are people that say the FBI acted in a way they had to when faced with Russian meddling. I understand that. I understand that Trey Gowdy is a good man and I can disagree with him from time to time and he can disagree with me from time to time.

I think the Obama administration had an alarming use of our intelligence community for their political -- let me finish this. He went after journalists. He spied on a Fox News journalists and an "A.P." journalist.

I think that was a mistake. I think that was too far. When he used the IRS to go after --


CAMEROTA: Yes, we're now in the Trump administration.

SCHLAPP: This is the Obama administration.

CAMEROTA: I know that. I know that. I know you want to talk about the Obama administration but we're talking about the Trump administration.

SCHLAPP: Alisyn, you got to let me answer. When the Obama administration went too far with the FBI, with the Trump campaign, it was a pattern of behavior and I am -- I'm just someone that believes that these powers are -- are very -- are very dangerous and we should be careful of how we use them and we shouldn't ever use them in a way where it looks like we're going after our opponents because what that does is, that does weaken these institutions.

And I think there's a lot of people involved in the FBI who are former U.S. attorneys and such who believe that James Comey bungled all of this. There's a lot of Democrats who believe that.

CAMEROTA: You've made your point and I think there are also people who worry that the FBI -- we need them. They'll be times when we do need them and we hope they're not damaged beyond repair.

Matt Schlapp --

SCHLAPP: I agree. We can agree on that.

CAMEROTA: Very good. Thank you very much for sharing your perspective.


BERMAN: Trey Gowdy, Obama collaborator I think is the headline there.

"Roseanne's" TV reboot gets the boot and she can't stop tweeting about it. More fallout from her stunning tirade and the president's deafening silence, next.