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Everything you need to know about the Roseanne Barr Twitter scandal

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Grace Allen
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ABC has officially dropped Roseanne Barr’s sitcom, following the comedian’s tweet about Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. 

Over the last 24 hours, news of Roseanne Barr’s controversial tweet has piqued considerable interest online. With (recently revived) sitcom Roseanne now axed by ABC, we look at the reactions of Barr’s co-stars, as well as the general public. What exactly happened? Here’s the story so far.

The tweet

Now deleted, Barr’s original tweet described Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett (who was born to African American parents) as “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj”. Part of a thread, it came in response to another tweet that claimed that Jarrett had helped cover up incidents in the Obama administration. Barr is a vocal supporter of Trump. 

The reaction

The president of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey, called Barr’s tweet “abhorrent, repugnant, and inconsistent with our values”. The comedian was swiftly dumped by her agents, and three additional networks have pulled reruns of Roseanne off the air. As a result, ABC stand to lose millions in advertising revenue, and hundreds of jobs will be affected.

Roseanne cast members were also quick to voice their disgust at her tweet. Sara Gilbert wrote: “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least”.

Co-star Emma Kenney tweeted: “I feel so empowered by @iamwandasykes , Channing Dungey and anyone at ABC standing up for morals and abuse of power. Bullies will NEVER win”.

Roseanne’s head writer, Wanda Sykes, has stated that she will not be returning to the sitcom following Barr’s tweet. And actress Minnie Driver, who stars in ABC’s Speechless, tweeted: “So proud of @ABCNetwork for having the ethical compunction to cancel Roseanne despite the show’s huge numbers. We too make a show about a middle class family, come and watch us instead.”

Valerie Jarrett’s reaction

Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s former senior advisor, told MSNBC: “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. 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.”

Roseanne Barr’s reaction

Barr’s response to the general outrage has been strangely mixed. After defensively tweeting that “Muslims r NOT a race’, she apologised: “I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me - my joke was in bad taste”. She went on to say that she had sent the offensive tweet while under the influence of Ambien (a sedative). 

She subsequently claimed that she had thought Jarrett was white, and she has since been retweeting her supporters’ messages - all while contradictorily appealing for her followers not to defend her.

Her most prominent supporter comes in the form of Katie Hopkins, who took to Twitter to say that Barr is ‘headed for greatness’.

Who is Roseanne Barr?

Barr is most famous for sitcom Roseanne, which ran from 1988-1997. The show was revived for one season this year, and aired to a positive reception. For those who haven’t seen it, the plot centers on a working class American family - back in its heyday it was deemed by critics to be one of few sitcoms to realistically portray a ‘blue collar’ family. 

Roseanne Barr’s controversial past

Barr has a history of raising eyebrows on social media. On 28 May she was tweeting about George Soros, the liberal financier. In a seemingly vicious exchange with Chelsea Clinton she accused Soros of being a Nazi “who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth”. She wrongly suggested that Clinton is married to Soros’s nephew.

In 2009 Barr was photographed dressed as Hitler for satirical Jewish publication Heeb, holding a tray of burnt gingerbread man cookies (Barr is Jewish herself). In 1990 Barr sang ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ at a San Diego Padres game. It is now considered one of the all-time worst renditions of the anthem, and she caused some considerable offence when she concluded the performance by grabbing her crotch and spitting on the ground. 

In 2009 Barr made a comparison between another of Obama’s aides, Susan Rice, and an ape, tweeting: ‘susan rice is a man with big swinging ape balls’.

Image credit: Getty/Twitter