Roseanne Barr apology: ‘I did not know Valerie Jarrett was black’

Barr says in a podcast she was ‘unclear’ and did not know Valerie Jarrett was black

Roseanne Barr said she did not know Valerie Jarrett was a black woman. Photograph: Vera Anderson/WireImage

Roseanne Barr has apologised to Valerie Jarrett for a recent controversial tweet, saying she had been “unclear” and “stupid” on Twitter. She said she is “not a racist”.

In a tearful podcast interview, Barr said she would accept whatever consequences there were from her recent tweets about Jarrett, a former aide to Barack Obama. She also said she “did not know [Jarrett] was a black woman.”

This was Barr's her first interview since the cancellation of her ABC show Roseanne. The sitcom, considered ABC'S most successful "new" series averaging nearly 18 million viewers per episode, was cancelled after Barr published a racist tweet referencing former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett – "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj".

The interview was facilitated by Barr’s close friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The podcast – described as “Roseanne Barr on Repentance, Jewish Values, and the Pain We Cause Others” – dealt extensively with her dedication to the Jewish faith. An edited transcript and recording of the conversation was released on Sunday.


During the exchange, Barr stressed her admiration for Martin Luther King (“He’s my idol. He is my idol”). As the conversation progressed she started to weep, lamenting the impact her actions have had on her personal life “I never would have wittingly called any black person . . . a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me. I didn’t do that.

“And if they do think that, I’m just so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid. I’m very sorry. But I don’t think that, and I would never do that. I have loved ones who are African-American, and I just can’t stand it.”

The comedian blamed her insensitive tweet on the prescription drug Ambien, emphasising that while it did not excuse her actions, it explained her erratic behaviour. “I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong. I’m going to accept what the consequences are.

“I’ve made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it’s just horrible. It’s horrible.”

In the interview Barr insisted her anger towards Jarrett was driven by personal opposition to the Obama administration’s policies on “Israel and Jewish issues” and was not a racially fuelled attack.

She claimed she was unaware of Jarrett’s racial heritage: “Valerie Jarrett, I don’t agree with her politics and I thought she was white, I did not know she was a black woman.”

The conversation concluded with Barr revealing she would like to contact both Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama whom she says was “irate” over the incident and extend an apology. “I caused pain for my family; I caused pain for my mother, I caused pain to the 200 out-of-work actors that I loved. And the crew and writers.

“I feel so bad that they gave me another chance and I blew it. But I did it. And what can I do now except say, of course, I’m not a racist, I’m an idiot”.

ABC has since commissioned a 10-episode spin-off of the Roseanne show under the title The Conners, which will have no involvement from Barr.

The president of ABC Entertainment Channing Dungey labelled Barr’s comments on Twitter as “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values”.

This was not the comedian’s first brush with controversy. An avid supporter of Donald Trump, Barr has pushed many of his administration’s conspiracy theories including the infamous Pizzagate – a smear against Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager John Podesta. In 2013, she referred to President Obama’s African-American national security adviser Susan Rice as “a man with big swinging ape balls”.

Three years after this she described Huma Abedin, the vice-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign, as being “a filthy Nazi whore.”