‘Roseanne’ Returns, and the Title Character Supports Trump

  • Roseanne Barr poses for photos at the Tribeca Film Festival kickoff in West Hollywood on March 23, 2015. (John Salangsang/BFA/Sipa USA/TNS)

The Washington Post
Friday, January 12, 2018

Roseanne is coming back to TV. And when it does, Roseanne Conner will be a Trump supporter.

“It’s just realistic,” Roseanne Barr said on Monday of the character she plays. Roseanne is, after all, a show about a working-class family. And Barr, speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, said she believes “it was working-class people who elected Trump.”

The decision reflects Barr’s view of the world in another way: Barr’s online presence is beloved by the pro-Trump internet and its diaspora. In recent years, the comedian has gone viral among Trump supporters on a regular basis, for everything from owning liberals online to promoting conspiracy theories about Seth Rich.

Her tweets get reposted on Trump internet mainstays like the r/The_Donald subreddit, where they are approvingly upvoted thousands of times.

Although Barr recently deleted most of her past tweets, her active presence on the Trump internet has continued in the months since she first announced that Roseanne was coming back to TV.

“4 those who wonder — back in the day when I was called a ‘liberal’ by journalists, I used to answer — ‘I’m not a Liberal, I’m a radical’ & I still am — I voted Trump 2 shake up the status quo & the staid establishment.,” Barr tweeted in December, a couple days before she erased her Twitter history.

The tweet was one of a series where the comedian defended her support of Trump. She then announced plans to “retire,” prompting a small wave of news coverage. Barr later clarified that she intended to take a social media break, and not retire from acting.

The December exchange may have confused those who were tuning in to Barr’s views for the first time because of the impending revival of her TV show. However, Barr’s been tweeting pretty similar things for a while.

It’s not just Barr’s generic support of Trump that makes her a hero to the pro-Trump internet. It’s also her apparently deep knowledge of and active engagement with the memes and conspiracy theories that Only True Trump Fans Online would know.

A month earlier, Barr tweeted out a YouTube video about “Pedogate,” which essentially rehashed the 2009 arrest of a local campaign manager for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for allegations of child molestation. “Pedogate” is the umbrella term for a series of conspiracy theories that accuse powerful figures — these days, often Trump’s enemies — of being part of a secret ring of pedophiles. Pizzagate is probably the most famous iteration of that conspiracy.

She’s tweeted about Pizzagate, too, linking out to YouTube videos promoting or defending the conspiracy theory and its amplifiers.

Barr has also tweeted about Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot in D.C. Despite pleas from his family, online sleuths insisted that Rich’s death was actually a political assassination attempt which was then covered up by the Clintons. This conspiracy theory regularly goes viral on the pro-Trump internet.

To add to her Trump internet bona fides, Barr is also one of the few celebrities with mainstream relevance to run a verified account on Gab, a social media platform that has pitched itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter. Barr has been on Gab since November 2016, the same month that the pro-Trump internet flocked to the platform following Twitter’s first big crackdown on users who violated its rules against “hateful conduct,” fearing censorship.

The Daily Beast noted over the summer that Barr’s political views have been hard to pin down over time. She once sought the Green Party nomination for the presidency. Her dislike of traditional politicians and support for Israel predate her current devotion to the conspiracy theories of the pro-Trump internet, and also seem to inform some of the topics that she regularly tweets about — for instance, her intense dislike of the Clinton family.

In August 2016, the Beast reported, Barr tweeted repeatedly about the Clintons and Israel, accusing Hillary of being “surrounded by jew haters,” among other things.

Talking about the reboot, Barr said she hoped the new Roseanne would address “polarization in the family and people actually hating other people for the way they voted, which I feel is not American.” This is another place were Barr’s real-life views — and how she’s expressed them online — will intersect with her fictional alter ego.