After a racist tweet directed at a former Obama adviser, the star of Roseanne has attempted multiple times to justify her message. On Thursday, in her first televised interview since being fired, Roseanne Barr insisted her tweet about Valerie Jarrett was "political," not racist. She also took the opportunity during her sit-down with Sean Hannity to poke Jarrett again, saying "Plus, I’d tell her she’s got to get a new haircut."
The whole controversy began in May, when Barr tweeted "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj," about Jarrett. According to The New York Times, hours later, ABC cancelled the reboot of her show, Roseanne, which had just returned in March after two decades off the air. ABC's president, Channing Dugney released a statement at the time, saying, "Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
Since then, Barr has made multiple apologies and explanations for her tweet, all while staunchly insisting that neither she, nor the tweet, is racist. Shortly after ABC announced it was firing her, she tweeted, "I apologize. I am now leaving Twitter." A few hours later, she returned to Twitter to blame her tweet on the Ambien she said she had taken, adding that her original tweet was "egregious" and "indefensible." In the middle of her apology tweets, Barr continued retweeting supporters, including one who tweeted out side-by-side photos of Jarrett and a character from Planet of the Apes.
Since the initial blowback, Barr has made a number of media appearances, including a teary interview with ABC news in which she said "I didn't mean what they think I meant" and said she was willing to accept the consequences of her actions. In a more bizarre twist this month, Barr also posted a video to her Youtube channel in which, looking visibly vexed, she repeatedly screams at an interviewer, "I thought the bitch was white!"
During Thursday's Hannity interview, Barr doubled down on this defense for her tweet, explaining that she wasn't comparing Jarrett, an African American woman, to an ape to be racist, because she thought at the time that Jarrett was white. According to Barr, the tweet was meant to be political commentary. "That is a tweet about asking for accountability from the previous administration about the Iran deal, which Valerie Jarrett is the author of, and that was what was in my head," Barr told Hannity.
Jarrett doesn't appear to have let the tweet, or its ensuing controversy, take up much space in her mind. In an appearance on The View on Wednesday, she turned the conversation from Barr to political issues like family separation and gun violence.
"If one of you said something like that about me, that might hurt my feelings," she joked with the hosts. "But this isn't what keeps me up at night. What keeps me up at night are those families being separated at the border. Or our children who go to school worrying about whether or not they’re going to be safe and the parents dropping them off. These are the things that keep me up at night. Not a racist tweet."
Asked for her response to the video of Barr screaming, Jarrett smiled and asked, "Roseanne who?"