Roseanne Barr and the Ambien defense

In a rare misstep, Scott Adams is off the mark regarding Roseanne Barr and the the-called ‘Ambien defense’. `

To recap, Roseanne Barr made a distasteful Tweet, which resulted in ABC canceling her hit TY show. She backtracked, deleting the tweet, apologizing, and blaming it on Ambien. Ambien maker Sanofi, on Twitter, retorts “racism is not a known side effect.” Scott Adams puts out a Periscope agreeing with Barr’s defense, and calling Sanofi’s remarks the “worst act of corporate maleficence he has ever seen” for, I suppose, implying that she is a racist.

A couple things here:

Rosanne, by blaming Ambien, made it newsworthy, not Sanofi’s response. She started it, not Sanofi.

Just because something is in the news doesn’t mean such coverage will have an impact. Scott puts too much faith in the crowds and the media. The overwhelming majority of people who take Ambien couldn’t care less about Sanofi’s tweet, and even if they did care, would not cause them to discontinue the drug. It reminds me of all the hype a month ago about Amazon (regarding Trump’s ‘big money’ tweet) and Facebook (about privacy and the FTC) which I correctly predicted (here and here) would be short-lived; sure enough, the share prices of both companies have recovered and hardly anyone talks about those stories anymore.

Sanofi was implying that the Tweet was racist, not Rosanne. Had they tweeted ‘becoming a racist is not a side effect,’ then that would have really been messed up. Almost everyone seems to be in agreement, including Scott and Rosanne, that the tweet was offensive and even racist, prompting her to delete it and implore that people not defend it. If Sanofi is ‘taking sides’, it’s the side in which there is near-unanimous agreement, making it not controversial.

The blame lies with ABC for being so quick to cancel her show for what was a mistake, not Ambien. People should be mad at ABC and the rest of left-wing media establishment, not Sanofi.

But, yeah, everyone is talking about Ambien now. If you do a Google search, there is a flood of stories about it. A May 24th tweet by Sanoi got only a dozen interactions, versus the 100+ thousand of reactions to their racism one, so in terms of generating free and positive PR, it was a success. Scanning through the headlines, most of the coverage seems to be either neutral or positive. There does not seem to be any cause for concern thus far.