Roseanne Barr blames racist tweets on Ambien sleeping pills | News | DW | 30.05.2018
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Roseanne Barr blames racist tweets on Ambien sleeping pills

The US television star Roseanne Barr has apologized for posting racist tweets earlier this week, saying she had been communicating under the influence of sleeping pills. Her relaunched show was axed by ABC in response.

Barr told fans in a tweet early on Wednesday: "I'm not a racist, just an idiot who made a bad joke." 

After her show was canceled by Disney-owned US broadcaster ABC, Roseanne remained highly active on social media, issuing a string of tweets and also sharing material supporting or commiserating with her. 

In one of them she said she was tired of "being attacked and belittled" and blamed Ambien, a medication used to treat insomnia, for the series of tweets early in the week that caused the controversy.

"I did something unforgivable so do not defend me," Barr wrote. "It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting — it was memorial day too — i went 2 far & do not want it defended — it was egregious Indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but...don't defend it please."

Barr cited Ambien again in a later tweet, saying: "Not giving excuses for what I did (tweeted) but I've done weird stuff while on ambien — cracked eggs on the wall at 2am etc."

'You throw me under the bus'

She subsequently deleted her initial references to the medication. But, when later confronted over the drug, Barr replied that she blamed herself:

Barr apologized to those who lost their jobs because of the cancellation of her rebooted sitcom Roseanne.

She later tweeted that fears over a potential boycott of the show's advertisers had been a factor and later attacked co-stars Michael Fishman and Sara Gilbert. "You throw me under the bus. nice!" she said in a tweet directed at Fishman.

Barr alleged George Soros was a Nazi collaborator and compared a former presidential aide to an ape. The Disney Media Networks subsidiary had come under pressure after the series of tweets by the 65-year-old comedian.

Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997, starring John Goodman (fron left) and Roseanne Barr (bottom right) (Barr Copyright TBM UnitedArchives100533) (Imago/United Archives)

"Roseanne" ran from 1988 to 1997, starring John Goodman (front left) and Roseanne Barr (front right) (Barr Copyright TBM UnitedArchives100533)

The backlash

The first new Roseanne series ended last week and work on 13 new episodes had been due to start on Tuesday. The first episode of the series garnered 18 million viewers, although by the end of the series that number had dropped to 10 million.

The executive producer of Roseanne said he supported ABC's decision. "Our goal was to promote constructive discussion about the issues that divide us," said Tom Werner. "It represented the work of hundreds of talented people. I hope the good work done is not totally eclipsed by those abhorrent and offensive comments, and that Roseanne seeks the help she so clearly needs."

Sanofi, the maker of Ambien, said in a statement on Wednesday that "racism is not a known side effect" of its products.

Hollywood talent agency ICM said it would no longer be representing Barr and several networks said they were removing reruns of her show.

White House silent, but Trump eventually tweets

"We have a lot bigger things going on in the country right now, certainly, that the president is spending his time on," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said when asked at Tuesday's press briefing.

Yet Trump waded in later on Wednesday, saying ABC executives had never apologized "for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me" on the network.

jbh/msh (AP, Reuters)

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