Trump sees bias in Roseanne cancellation

"Racism is not a known side effect": the makers of Ambien have hit back at Roseanne Barr

US President Donald Trump has suggested an executive behind ABC's cancellation of sitcom Roseanne was biased while the White House says it does not defend comedian Roseanne Barr's racist tweet that sparked the decision.

Barr sparked widespread anger with a tweet on Tuesday comparing black former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape.

Barr wrote in a now-deleted message that if the Islamist political movement "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj".

The tweet led the ABC network, owned by Walt Disney Co, to cancel its hit revival of her Roseanne sitcom.

Network Ten quickly followed ABC's cancellation by pulling the show off the air in Australia, despite having four episodes from the new series left to screen.

Trump has cited the program's popularity as evidence that his supporters, who include Barr, want shows that speak to their concerns.

Jarrett said on Tuesday that Disney chief executive Bob Iger called her before ABC announced the show's cancellation.

"Gee, he never called President Donald J Trump to apologise for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?" Trump said on Twitter.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders elaborated on Trump's comments at a media briefing.

"The president is simply calling out the media bias. No one is defending what she said," Sanders said.

She brought up several examples of what she called a media slant against Trump.

These included comments made by ABC's The View host Joy Behar about Vice-President Mike Pence's Christian faith and comedian Kathy Griffin's comments about Trump on the same television program.

Barr blamed her late-night message on the sleep aid Ambien.

"It was 2 in the morning and I was Ambien tweeting-it was memorial day too-i went 2 far & do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible," she wrote in a message that has since been deleted.

"I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but...don't defend it please."

Ambien's maker, Sanofi, responded on Twitter: "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."

On Tuesday, Barr apologised "for making a bad joke" about Jarrett.

"Don't feel sorry for me, guys!!" she said in a tweet on Tuesday.

But on Wednesday she was in a feisty mood, saying on Twitter she did not know Jarrett was black.

In another tweet, Barr suggested she was being unfairly treated: "One stupid joke in a lifetime of fighting 4 civil rights 4 all minorities..."

The original Roseanne ran from 1988 to 1997 and was praised for its realistic portrayal of working-class life.

The current Roseanne was ABC's biggest hit of the 2017-18 season, drawing an average 18.7 million viewers.