Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has released an edited transcript and audio recording of the interview he conducted with former ABC star Roseanne Barr shortly after the cancellation of her series “Roseanne.”
In the interview, Barr claims that she “never would have wittingly called any black person…a monkey.”
“It’s really hard to say this but, I didn’t mean what they think I meant,” Barr said of her tweet. “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.”
Barr spoke through tears for much of the interview. “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,” Barr said tearfully. “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 gotta’ come back to God. So it’s remorse, and I definitely feel remorse.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Boteach and Barr also discussed the Jewish faith, including Barr’s study of the Torah. Boteach emphasized that the discussion was meant to be framed by “our shared commitment to Torah values.” He referenced Genesis and its principle that “all human beings are equal and all human beings are God’s children.”
“So, I’m asking, in that tweet, people see in that a complete contravention of that values system,” he said, as the topic of the tweet arose.
Barr explained that she didn’t mean what “they think I meant.”
“I have black children in my family,” she said. “I can’t, I can’t let ’em say these things about that, after 30 years of my putting my family and my health and my livelihood at risk to stand up for people. I’m a lot of things, 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 had said] they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me,” she said while sobbing.
“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 sorry. But I don’t think that and I would never do that. I have loved ones who are African-American, and I just can’t stand it. I’ve made a huge error and I told ABC when they called me.”
Barr said she regretted the tweet even before ABC called her and that it wasn’t up for long because she removed it. She also referenced her earlier statements that it was 2 a.m. and she was on Ambien at the time of the tweet.
“There’s no excuse. I don’t excuse it. It’s an explanation. I was impaired you know,” she said.
“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 continued to cry.
She said that both ABC and her family asked her to get off Twitter when she began “Roseanne,” but that she could “never stop defending Israel and the Jewish people,” which is what led her to target Jarrett: “I don’t agree with her politics and I thought she was white.” Barr continued to cite her ignorance of Jarrett’s race.
“It was an insensitive thing for me, but it’s the reason, and I’m just gonna’ own my reason. I can’t let anyone else say I did it because I’m a racist, because I didn’t.”
As the interview drew to an end, Barr expressed the desire to reach out to Jarrett personally to apologize.