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These are all the euphemisms the media used to avoid calling Roseanne’s tweets racist

The media's civility bias.

CREDIT: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
CREDIT: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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.'”

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

“Offending with statements”

On Twitter, Fox News described Barr as “offending with statements about Chelsea Clinton [and] former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.”

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

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.”

“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.

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

“Racially charged” was also the headline euphemism of choice for Deadline and The Hill.

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

Politico also described Barr’s tweet as “racially charged,” though the headline of its article was later changed from “racially charged” to “racist.”

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

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.”

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

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.”

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

“Bizarre Twitter rant”

On Twitter, CNN characterized Barr’s tweet as part of a “bizarre Twitter rant,” though the lede of its piece about it does note that Barr’s rant was “racist.”

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CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

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.

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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.


UPDATE (5/29, 1:50 p.m.) — Just as this post was published, ABC announced it is canceling “Roseanne.”