Roseanne Barr’s Twitter saga didn’t end with the cancellation of her show Tuesday. Early Wednesday morning, she was back at it, first blaming Ambien and defensively comparing ABC’s response to her racist and otherwise offensive tweetstorm to those of other celebrities who have made controversial comments. And President Trump, who has personally congratulated Barr on the initial success of “Roseanne,” finally weighed in on the rapidly unfolding controversy Wednesday. Trump questioned why the head of ABC parent company Disney had called Valerie Jarrett — the target of Barr’s racist comments — to apologize, when he hadn’t received similar treatment.
“Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr,” Trump tweeted. “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?”
Trump might have been referring to anti-Trump comments by Keith Olbermann, who recently returned to Disney-owned ESPN, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s mocking of Melania Trump’s accent or “The View’s” Joy Behar calling Vice President Pence mentally ill because of his faith. Barr had retweeted people comparing those celebrities’ treatment by the network to her own, insinuating there was a double standard at play.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump was “simply pointing out the bias [in actions]. The president is pointing to the hypocrisy in the media saying the most horrible things about this president and nobody addresses it,” she said. “Where was Bob Iger’s apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the president and anyone associated with him a white supremacist? To Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness? Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on ‘The View’ after a photo showed her holding President Trump’s decapitated head? And where was the apology from Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive-laced tweets attacking the president as a Nazi and even expanding Olbermann’s role after that attack against the president’s family? This is a double standard that the president is speaking about. No one is defending her comments; they’re inappropriate. But that’s the point that he was making.”
While Sanders railed against ABC, Sanofi, the maker of Ambien, responded to Barr’s claim that the sleep aid was behind her offensive words. “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication,” the company tweeted, echoing a sentiment that many on social media had shared.
But the sleep-medication makers weren’t the only surprising targets in Barr’s crosshairs — her “Roseanne” team also took some hits. She reposted a tweet by Sara Gilbert, the actress who played her daughter, Darlene, on the show and served as executive producer. Gilbert had called Barr’s initial comments “abhorrent,” saying they “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.”
“Wow! unreal,” Barr wrote in response. Later, she moderated her stance on Gilbert: “no, I understand her position and why she said what she said. i forgive her. It just shocked me a bit,” Barr wrote.
She also retweeted a long post by Michael Fishman, who played her son, D.J. In his tweet, the actor bemoaned the impact of Barr’s words on the cast and crew and said the show’s story lines were often about inclusiveness. “i created the platform for that inclusivity and you know it. ME,” Barr wrote. “You throw me under the bus. nice!”
And Barr pointed a finger at Wanda Sykes, the show’s consulting producer, for ultimately causing the show’s demise. Sykes had responded to Barr’s invective by announcing via Twitter that she wouldn’t return to the show. She wrote of Sykes, “her tweet made ABC very nervous and they cancelled the show.”
Barr seemed to liken the reaction from her co-stars and those a supporter called “her underlings” to the way President Trump complains about members of his administration being “disloyal.” In response to tweets calling out Gilbert and Emma Kenney, who plays Barr’s granddaughter, Barr wrote, “i feel bad for @POTUS-he goes thru this every single day.”
And she said she thinks the reason ABC pulled the plug was a threatened boycott of the show’s advertisers.
Barr had earlier apologized to members of the cast and crew, but the tweet was deleted. “I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people, and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet,” she wrote.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Barr thought ABC pulled the plug because of a threatened boycott by advertisers. Her tweet actually said that it was because of a threatened boycott of the show’s advertisers by other people. The post has been updated.