CHICAGO -- After ABC cancelled her show, Roseanne Barr fired back on Twitter Wednesday, vigorously defending herself, retweeting President Trump, and even mentioning the drug Ambien, which prompted a response from the pharmaceutical company.
Barr said the Tweet that started the firestorm yesterday was "insensitive not racist." The flashpoint was a Tweet Barr sent Tuesday, responding to a follower about Chicagoan Valerie Jarrett writing, "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj." ABC responded by cancelling Roseanne, the comeback TV hit that got rave reviews and was expected to return in the Fall.
On Wednesday, Roseanne continued to fire off Tweets throughout the day, defending herself: "I'm not a racist, I never was & I never will be. One stupid joke in a lifetime of fighting 4 civil rights 4 all minorities, against networks, studios, at the expense of my nervous system/family/wealth will NEVER b taken from me."
Barr apologized to Jarrett Tuesday and later claimed she was Ambien tweeting, referring to a medication that helps users sleep. Instead, however, the pharmaceutical company, Sanofi US, also responded via Twitter: "People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."
From there, Twitter exploded and #ambien trended in the top spot all day. Twitter comments included everything from wisecracks to raising awareness about the medication that is used to help people sleep. Dr. Robert Shulman of Rush University Medical Center said the medicine, on rare occasions, can put people into a hypnotic state, allowing them to be disinhibited. He said medical prescribers must educate their patients about the drug.
"It's important to convey to the individual that you are giving this to - this is how you use it, and this is how you don't use it. Don't mix it with alcohol or other kinds of disinhibiting substances," Dr. Shulman said.
As far as social media, a firestorm reaction followed Barr's original Tweet. Depaul Professor Bree McEwan says it's known as "context collapse" - when your message, like Barr's Tweet, is pinpointed for one group, but goes to everyone, as Tweets do in a public forum.
"Something like Roseanne's Tweet...it's more than off color, but it's something, perhaps, she could have gotten away with in a small group where she knew the social norms," said Asst. Professor Bree McEwan of DePaul University. "In a larger audience, it's seen as drastically inappropriate."
Barr continued to retweet supporters' comments, even a Tweet from President Trump too, which read: "Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that "ABC does not tolerate comments like those" made by Roseanne Barr. 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?"
White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said "the president's simply calling out the media bias. No one's defending what she said. The president is the president of all Americans and he's focused on doing what's best for the country."
Sanders also said other comedians, like Joy Behar and Kathy Griffin, have used off-color comments as well. She added: "And where was Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive tweets attacking the president as a Nazi and even expanding Olbermann's role after that attack against the president's family?"
As for Barr, this controversy isn't over yet. The comedian said she feels like fighting back, and she promised to let her Twitter followers know her next move.
Roseanne blames Ambien for Valerie Jarrett tweet