I have known Roseanne Barr for over 25 years. I’ve known her as Roseanne Barr, Roseanne Arnold, just “Roseanne”, then back to Roseanne Barr. I’ve spent time in her home, criss-crossed the country with her to help remove George W. Bush from the White House, appeared on her shows, been there for her when she needed something, and connected her with one of my producers who did an insightful, one-of-a-kind documentary into the genius and the tragedy that is Roseanne Barr.
On Tuesday Roseanne posted hateful, slanderous tweets directed at four people: George Soros, Valerie Jarrett, Chelsea Clinton and me. A few hours later, she was fired by ABC.
For the past few years, Roseanne has been posting the craziest stuff on Twitter, like claiming Hillary was part of a child sex abuse ring being run out of a DC pizza place. She’s claimed that the Clintons have murdered people. And anyone who criticizes Benjamin Netanyahu is a “nazi.”
Roseanne seems to be suffering from some sort of madness. It’s more than just saying she’s a racist. She operates in the same sewer of lies, conspiracy theories and bigotry that’s been rising in America for years and that has now succeeded in electing our current president. Totally nuts.
Here’s who’s not crazy: Donald J. Trump.
Trump, though he shows all the signs of being absolutely bonkers, is not insane. He’s the real deal. His racism and hate is real, it’s well thought-out, he’s the true master of manipulation, a brilliant performance artist, and an evil genius. He outsmarted a nation of liberals and Democrats and won the White House by losing the actual vote of the people. He neutered and then destroyed the Grand Old Republican Party. He knows exactly what he is doing.
Roseanne, on the other hand, is a person who long ago broke through and brought an authentic voice of working women and men to television via one of the greatest TV series of all time. It was groundbreaking because the TV industry had historically either ignored, ridiculed or patronized those of us who grew up in the working class. Roseanne changed that.
But she is also a damaged soul. Most people don’t know that she has suffered her entire life from a massive head injury she received during a serious car accident when she was a child. Her brain injuries were immense and she spent months in the hospital struggling to recover.
I also have no idea what it was like to grow up, as she did, as a Jewish girl in Salt Lake City. Not a tolerant state, to be sure. She told me how her parents, who owned an apartment building, were asked by the U.S. government after World War II if they would be willing to house Holocaust survivors who had come to the U.S. as refugees. Her parents took dozens in, and Roseanne’s childhood was spent with these survivors as her “family.” “The stories they told me,” she said, “were filled with unimaginable horror. I’ve always wondered what effect that had on me as a little girl.”
Now, sadly, for the past few years, Roseanne has been in a downward spiral, ranting like crazy on Twitter, spreading conspiracy theories, attacking the people she used to love, supporting Trump, and being just an outright hateful and racist person. It has been a difficult decline to witness. She has repeatedly attacked me, and on Tuesday, after calling George Soros a “Nazi” (he’s a Jew and a Holocaust survivor), Valerie Jarrett an offspring “of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes,” and saying that Chelsea was “married to” a Nazi relative of George Soros, she then retweeted a disgusting new word for me because I have spoken out against the Netanyahu government and its killing of Palestinians — “#JewHater”. Nonstop insanity and sickness.
I guess there might be 20 million Americans (out of 320 million) who probably agree with her. She has thrown down with the lowest of the low, and who knows if she’ll ever recover from this descent into her own personal hell.
To close, I want to say just how great the new Roseanne show was. It was funny but brutal to watch because it showed how our system of greed has hurt millions of families like the Connors of Illinois. On the final episode last week, Roseanne was addicted to opioids because she couldn’t afford the knee surgery she needed, so she suffered along in agonizing pain. Dan, her husband, in order to raise money for her surgery, decided to take a non-union job — and Roseanne berates him for doing so and letting his union brothers and sisters down. There are a couple quick knocks on Trump, making it clear that the real Roseanne was not writing or running this show. For the past 9 weeks, the new Roseanne show has shined a powerful and necessary light on what it means to be working class in 2018. Her blended family on this new series was white and black and LGBTQ, and her generous neighbors next door were Muslims who forced her to confront her own bigotry.
If only her art could have helped her in her real life.
(Also, let me say this: There’s no reason the show has to go just because she’s gone. Over the years, TV has found ways to bring Bobby Ewing back from the dead on “Dallas”, forced us to accept the two Darrins on “Bewitched”, and found ways for hit shows to survive when their stars bolted after a year or two [David Caruso on “NYPD Blue”, Pernell Roberts on “Bonanza”]. The smart people who were writing this Roseanne series can surely find a way to let the non-bigoted portion of the America’s working class [which I can tell you is the VAST majority] have their voice heard on network television. Why should it be silenced by one lost soul?)