Roseanne Barr says the sleeping pill Ambien played a role in the racist tweet she sent about Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser in the Obama White House, which led ABC to cancel her TV show. "It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting," Barr said in a late-night tweet, adding that her comment was "egregious" and "indefensible."
The maker of Ambien, Sanofi-Aventis, took issue with that rationale.
"People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world," the company said in a statement. "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."
People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.
— Sanofi US (@SanofiUS) May 30, 2018
Like all medications, sleep aids like Ambien can come with side effects. According to the drug’s label, common ones include headaches, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
Sanofi-Aventis also includes a warning that "abnormal thinking and behavioral changes" have been reported in patients treated with Ambien. These side effects can include aggressiveness, agitation, and hallucinations. In rare instances, people have reported performing activities, such as driving a car, preparing and eating food, and having sex while not fully awake and not remembering these events later on. The company warns consumers should stop taking Ambien if they have such episodes.
"It can rarely be determined with certainty whether a particular instance of the abnormal behaviors listed above is drug induced, spontaneous in origin, or a result of an underlying psychiatric or physical disorder," the company says.
Barr later said she was not putting blame on the sleep aid for her racist comment.
On Wednesday morning in response to a critic she tweeted: "Yes, I have had odd ambien experiences on tweeting late at night-like many other ppl do. I BLAME MYSELF OK? It’s just an explanation not an excuse."
ABC Entertainment’s president Channing Dungey announced on Tuesday that the network decided to cancel the "Roseanne" reboot following Barr’s tweet comparing Jarrett to an ape.
Barr’s tweet about Jarrett said, "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." Dungey called that comment "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values."
From Channing Dungey, President of ABC Entertainment: "Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."
There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 29, 2018
Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, backed up Dungey’s decision to cancel the top-rated show, saying "There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing."
After initially pushing back against criticism of the comment about Jarrett, Barr admitted her "joke" was in "bad taste," and she apologized to Jarrett.
@ValerieJarrett I want to apologize to you. I am very sorry to have hurt you. I hope you can accept this sincere apology!
— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) May 30, 2018
At a town hall event on MSNBC Tuesday night, Jarrett said she’s doing fine and hopes people will learn from the whole incident.
"I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment," Jarrett said.