On Tuesday, the explanation for her racist tweet aimed at former White House aide under President Barack Obama was: “It’s a joke.” By Wednesday, after ABC abruptly canceled the revival of her hit sitcom, the explanation had changed to: “Ambien tweeting.”
Prior to ABC pulling the show, Roseanne Barr apologized to Jarrett and vowed, “I am now leaving Twitter.” But the embattled comedian did no such thing, returning to the platform overnight on Tuesday into Wednesday for another tweetstorm that was a mix of regret and defensiveness, but mostly a stream of retweets from fans who leapt to her defense and explanations for her racist and incendiary outburst.
The initial comment that sparked the firestorm was an unprovoked shot at former White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, whom she equated to Planet of the Apes and the Muslim Brotherhood. “I honestly thought she was Jewish and Persian-ignorant of me for sure, but … i did,” she tweeted in response to a Twitter user. But the richest explanation Barr offered was, “It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible,” she wrote. “I made a mistake I wish I hadn’t but … don’t defend it please.” That tweet has been deleted since, but Barr addressed her purported Ambien usage in other tweets.
no, i didnt i blamed myself. stop lying. Yes, I have had odd ambien experiences on tweeting late at night-like many other ppl do. I BLAME MYSELF OK? it's just an explanation not an excuse, Ok, bully?
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 30, 2018
The 65-year-old comedian also said she was “being attacked and belittled more than other comedians who have said worse,” but implored fans not to boycott ABC over the controversy. Also, on Wednesday morning, the maker of Ambien, a prescription sleep aid, chimed in to respond to Barr’s suggestion that Ambien fueled her Twitter outburst. Sanofi U.S. issued the response on Twitter acknowledging that Ambien, like all other prescription drugs, has side effects, but “racism is not a known side effect of” the sleep aid.
People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
— Sanofi US (@SanofiUS) May 30, 2018
President Trump, who notably tweeted his congratulations to Barr over the show’s smash ratings success in its return to TV and also called her to extend his congratulations, was noticeably silent on the issue in the wake of her firing by ABC. He was in Nashville Tuesday night for a rally and did not address the cancellation of Barr’s show. It wasn’t until late Wednesday morning that the president finally weighed in, and when he did, he criticized Disney chief Robert Iger. Iger on Tuesday placed a personal phone call to Valerie Jarrett in which he apologized for Barr’s comments, and informed her the show was going to be canceled. Trump took issue with the fact that he’s never received a similar call from Iger “to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that “ABC does not tolerate comments like those” made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
Another person who did publicly address the issue was Barr’s target, Valerie Jarrett, who appeared on an MSNBC town hall on racism Tuesday evening. Jarrett told the audience she is “fine” in the wake of the seemingly random attack, but added that she’s concerned for people who are subjected to racism and who don’t have a circle of “friends and followers who come right to their defense.” She added that “we have to turn it into a teaching moment.”
“I’m fine,” Jarret said. “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. The person who is walking down the street minding their own business and they see somebody cling to their purse, or run across the street, or every black parent I know who has a boy who has to sit down and have a conversation — the talk — as we call it. As you say, those ordinary examples of racism that happen every single day.”
Below, watch a clip of her MSNBC appearance.