'I've Made Myself a Hate Magnet': Roseanne Barr Apologizes to Celebrity Rabbi for Racist Tweet

TV star says regrets tweet that got her ABC show cancelled, says she felt bound to defend Israel and that she's considered emigrating there and running for PM

Roseanne Barr, January 8, 2018.
Valerie Macon/AFP

A weeping Roseanne Barr said that “as a Jew” she “horribly regrets [having] made myself a hate magnet” with the controversial “Planet of the Apes” tweet about former Obama official Valerie Jarrett that caused her highly rated show to be cancelled.

The “Roseanne” reboot was cancelled after its star tweeted - then deleted - a disparaging description of Jarrett, who is black and was born in Iran: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at the time that the tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

"I’m not a racist, I’m an idiot,” Barr told celebrity rabbi Shmuely Boteach on his podcast, in a 35-minute interview that was recorded around the time the scandal erupted at the end of May, but was only aired on Sunday.

Boteach originally said he would not release the recording “out of respect for Roseanne” in order to “give her space to reflect on the recent events.” He ended up releasing the podcast on Sunday, three weeks later, just after ABC announced that they would revive their reboot of her iconic sitcom “Roseanne” without her participation, and that the new show will be called “The Conners”.

On Boteach’s podcast, an emotional Barr was alternatively defensive and apologetic as she discussed the fallout from tweet, the reasons she disliked Jarrett and her anger at ABC for refusing to accept her explanation for the tweet. During the conversation, Boteach attempted to both console her and defend her, repeatedly cutting off her remarks when they strayed from a repentant tone.

“I don’t excuse it. I horribly regret it,” Barr said of her behavior. “I lost everything, and I regretted it before I lost everything. And I said to God, ‘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, and I do, and I have. But they don’t ever stop. They don’t accept my apology, or explanation. And I’ve made myself a hate magnet. And as a Jew, it’s just horrible. It’s horrible.”

Barr repeated a claim that she had been “impaired” at the time of the 2 AM tweet after taking the drug Ambien, and that she had been driven to tweet the offending remark by her anger over Jarrett’s role in shaping the Obama administration's policies towards Israel. “I think of her as someone who is trying to subvert freedom,” Barr said of Jarrett. She said she blamed Jarrett for Obama White House policies which she believed hurt Israel and were “anti-Jew.”

She revealed that when ABC first hired her for the “Roseanne” revival, they asked her to curb her presence on Twitter. But she claimed that she felt bound to remain on social media out of a desire to “never stop defending Israel and the Jewish people.”

Barr explained that she was deeply affected by the Holocaust survivors she knew growing up and that she “hadn’t been a normal human” since watching the Eichmann trial as a child. At the time, she said, she “made a pact with God” to stand up for the Jews.

“I compared (Jarrett’s) looks to a fictional character in a movie who was like the mad genius of the overthrow of the people,” Barr said, noting that “every day on Twitter, Jews are called actual pigs and actual apes and nobody does a damn thing about it.”

Barr also said, as she has in the weeks since the incident, that her tweet was not racist because she believed that Jarrett was white, not black, when she wrote the tweet. It was a mistake she should not have made, the television star said, since she believes that she herself is often a victim of racial misidentification. Many, she said, mistakenly believe she is not Jewish.

“I never would have wittingly called any black person and say they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that,” Barr said. “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 sorryI have loved ones who are African American, and I just can’t stand it."

At one point in the conversation with Boteach, Barr asserted, as she has in the past, that she was so devoted to Israel that she had considered emigrating and entering politics. “I support Israel because although they do things that are not good that embarrass me sometimes sometimes I say I’m just going to move there and run for Prime Minister my own damn self because I think I would do better because I want peace.”