In her first TV interview since being fired from her ABC sitcom, Roseanne Barr on Thursday continued to insist that her tweet about African-American political adviser Valerie Jarrett was not racist.
"We need to talk about race and everything that's connected to it including [my] not knowing that someone who looks like me, her skin tone is like mine, and … I didn't know she was African-American," Barr, 65, told host Sean Hannity on his namesake Fox News program, in an in-studio interview recorded 90 minutes earlier.
Barr, who referenced the Muslim Brotherhood in her tweet in May, said she had assumed Jarrett was Middle Eastern because Jarrett was born in Iran "and lived in Iran for such a long time." Jarrett's African-American parents worked in Iran while her father ran a children's hospital; the family moved first to London and then Chicago when Jarrett was 5 years old.
"I never used the words 'looks like' " in the tweet, Barr added later in the interview.
Hannity, 56, suggested Barr apologize to Jarrett. "Well, I already have said I'm sorry for two months" online but not directly. "But if she's watching, I'm so sorry you thought I was racist and you thought my tweet was racist … I'm sorry for the misunderstanding that caused my ill-worded tweet and I'm sorry that you feel harmed and hurt. I never meant that. And for that, I apologize. I never meant to hurt anybody or say anything negative about an entire race of people, which I think 30 years of my work can attest to."
She said she was "afraid [Jarrett] would start screaming and throw the phone down.” But, she added conciliatorily, "I’ll call her [now] if anybody's got her number."
Barr reiterated her past statement that "I wish I'd worded it [the tweet] better. But I'm not letting them tell me what I mean. That makes me mad. I won't have people who don't share my culture tell me what I meant."
Barr's tweet had compared Jarrett, 61, an adviser to former President Barack Obama, to an animal. Hours after the post, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey announced the cancellation of "Roseanne," which had run from 1988 to 1997 and was revived for a nine-episode tenth season airing this past March to May. Robert Iger, chairman of ABC owner Disney, said in a tweet, "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing."
ABC later announced the spinoff series "The Conners," in which Barr has no financial or creative involvement. It is scheduled to premiere Oct. 16 in the former show's Tuesday 8 p.m. timeslot.