When Roseanne Barr compared a prominent black woman to an "ape" on Tuesday, it wasn't the first time. Shortly after Barr tweeted about former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, another prominent black woman in the Obama administration, Susan Rice, shared a similar tweet of the comedian's dating back to 2013.
"susan rice is a man with big swinging ape balls," she wrote of Obama's former national security adviser years ago.
Barr tweeted Tuesday that Jarrett looks like if "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby," and the blowback was fierce. By the end of the day, ABC had cancelled Barr's sitcom, and her talent agency dropped her as a client. Barr apologized on Tuesday, but was criticized for subsequently suggesting that Ambien, the popular sleep medication, had compelled her to make the remarks about Jarrett. Ambien's parent company, Sanofi, responded that "racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."
Barr's newly-resurfaced tweet about Rice is sure to give fuel to critics who argued that Barr's comment about Jarrett wasn't an isolated incident, but rather part of a pattern. Also on Tuesday, Barr accused Holocaust survivor George Soros of collaborating with Nazis (Soros was 9 years old when World War II broke out), and falsely claimed that Chelsea Clinton is married to Soros's nephew.
In fact, Barr has done several things in years past that struck observers as bigoted. In addition to dressing as Adolf Hitler for a photo shoot, she's denounced "ISLAMIC RAPE PEDO CULTURE," called Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin "a filthy Nazi whore" and tweeted about "Jewish mind control." Barr has also trafficked in more general far-right conspiracy theories, such as the claim that the Boston bombing was a "false flag" operation by the United States government.
Nevertheless, Barr's tweets about Jarrett and Soros appear to have been the straws that broke the camel's back (the camel, in this analogy, being the revival of Barr's career). Without specifying which tweet he was referring to, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement Tuesday that Barr's "Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show." ICM Partners, the talent agency that had represented her, said Barr's tweets are "antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency," and announced that "effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client."
As the outrage surrounding her Tuesday tweets was growing, Barr issued a brief apology and then said she was "leaving Twitter." She returned shortly thereafter, however, and after implying that Ambien played a role in her tweets, issued a more lengthy apology Wednesday. It read:
I deeply regret my comments from late last night on Twitter. Above all, I want to apologize to Valerie Jarrett, as well as to ABC and the cast and crew of the Roseanne show. I am sorry for making a thoughtless joke that does not reflect my values — I love all people and am very sorry. Today my words caused hundreds of hardworking people to lose their jobs. I also sincerely apologize to the audience that has embraced my work for decades. I apologize from the bottom of my heart and hope you can find it in my hearts to forgive me.
Not long thereafter, however, Barr retweeted a post accusing Jarrett of mismanaging a housing complex.
President Trump, who Barr's fictional character on Roseanne supports, weighed in on the controversy Wednesday. He criticized the chief of ABC for apologizing to Jarrett but not apologizing to Trump "for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC." It's unclear what statements the president was referring to.