On Tuesday morning, Roseanne Barr — star of ABC’s “Roseanne” — posted a tweet comparing former White House aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape. It was not the first time Barr compared a black person to an ape on Twitter.
Barr’s comparison of a black person to an ape is racist. It is not a close call. But numerous media outlets are bending over backward to avoid using the word.
Here’s a rundown of some of the euphemisms that were used.
“Waded into racial waters”
In its article about Barr’s tweet, The Wrap doesn’t describe Barr’s tweet as racist. Instead, the author writes that Barr “waded into racial waters” by “suggesting that former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett is a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ‘Planet of the Apes.'”
“Offending with statements”
On Twitter, Fox News described Barr as “offending with statements about Chelsea Clinton [and] former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.”
Fox News’ accompanying article notes, falsely, that Barr’s “account is now deactivated” — it remains live as this is published — and describes her tweet about Jarrett as “racially charged.”
Instead of just calling Barr’s tweet racist, the Washington Post went with “vitriolic and racially charged” in the headline of an article about it.
Politico also described Barr’s tweet as “racially charged,” though the headline of its article was later changed from “racially charged” to “racist.”
A “bad joke”
In its report about Barr’s tweet and its fallout, The Associated Press completely avoided using the words “race,” “racism,” or “racist.” Instead, the AP centered its piece on Barr’s apology, and frames her tweet as a “bad joke.”
Barr’s tweet about Jarrett came after she spread and amplified anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about Chelsea Clinton and George Soros. But instead of pointing out the bigoted subtext of Barr’s tweets, the AP describes her smears of Clinton and Soros as “part of a busy period on Twitter for Barr.”
“Bizarre Twitter rant”
Barr, meanwhile, apologized to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans” for “making a bad joke about her politics and her looks,” and deleted her tweet comparing Jarrett to an ape. Notably, however, she did not apologize for her racism.
ABC has yet to publicly comment on Barr or the status of her show, which is scheduled to return to the network with new episodes this fall. While producer Wanda Sykes responded to Barr’s racist tweets by announcing she will not return to the show, Sara Gilbert — “the architect of the reboot and one of the series’ stars,” as Variety put it — pretended that Roseanne Barr has no association with the show bearing her name.
Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
UPDATE (5/29, 1:50 p.m.) — Just as this post was published, ABC announced it is canceling “Roseanne.”
— Kate Aurthur (@KateAurthur) May 29, 2018