In a wide-ranging interview, Roseanne Barr opened up about the tweet that got her fired from her hit ABC sitcom and the sorrow she endured knowing she hurt so many with her words.
The interview conducted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was recorded in May, the day after ABC fired Barr for a tweet many viewed as racist, according to Hollywood Reporter.
In the newly released recording, Roseanne Barr noted that too many misunderstood the context of her tweet and that she didn’t mean it in a racist way at all. Still, she expressed regret that the tweet caused pain for some.
In her infamous tweet, Barr referred to former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as a cross between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Planet of the Apes. Barr later explained that she was commenting on Jarrett’s politics, not her ethnicity, which is black and Iranian.
Whatever she meant, the tweet took on a life of its own and the TV star was soon seen apologizing for her choice of words.
In the Boteach interview, the Rosanne creator said she regretted the incident:
“It’s really hard to say this but, I didn’t mean what they think I meant. And that’s what’s so painful. But I have to face that it hurt people. When you hurt people, even unwillingly, there’s no excuse. I don’t want to run off and blather on with excuses. But I apologize to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean. It was my own ignorance, and there’s no excuse for that ignorance.
The comedian also broke down into tears in several places during the interview. Through those tears she continued:
“You have to feel remorse, not just repentance. That’s just a step towards feeling remorse. And when you feel remorse, you have to follow it with recompense. You have to take an action in the world — whether it’s through money or other things — to correct your sin. After your heart is unfrozen and after it stops being broken from the pain you caused others, you stop being a robot and you’ve got to come back to God. So it’s remorse, and I definitely feel remorse.”
Barr also insisted that she is no racist. She has black children in her family, she said, and she would never call them such names. “I’m a lot of things,” Barr said again through tears, “a loud mouth and all that stuff. But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person, [I would never have said] they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that.”
The remorseful star also said that it “kills me” that people think she is a racist when she is not, and reiterated her claim that she made the tweet while on Ambien. “That’s no excuse, but that is what was real,” she said.
Barr also noted that she was expressing regret and contrition even before she lost her new hit TV show.
“I horribly regret it. Are you kidding? 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.”
Indeed before ABC canceled her show, Barr had tweeted out a plea telling people not to defend her initial tweet about Jarrett.
“I did something unforgivable so do not defend me,” Barr tweeted. “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.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.