Food Network drops Paula Deen amid uproar
by Russ Bynum, Associated Press
June 22, 2013 12:10 AM | 3009 views | 4 4 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Jan. 17, 2012 file photo shows celebrity chef Paula Deen posing for a portrait in New York. Deen says she has used racial slurs in the past but insists she and her brother, who are accused of racial and sexual discrimination in a lawsuit by a former manager of their restaurant, don’t tolerate hateful behavior. In a court deposition conducted on May 17, 2013 and filed Monday, June 17, 2013, in federal court, an attorney for former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson presses the 66-year-old Deen about her racial views and those of her brother, Bubba Hiers. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)
This Jan. 17, 2012 file photo shows celebrity chef Paula Deen posing for a portrait in New York. Deen says she has used racial slurs in the past but insists she and her brother, who are accused of racial and sexual discrimination in a lawsuit by a former manager of their restaurant, don’t tolerate hateful behavior. In a court deposition conducted on May 17, 2013 and filed Monday, June 17, 2013, in federal court, an attorney for former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson presses the 66-year-old Deen about her racial views and those of her brother, Bubba Hiers. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, File)
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Food Network said Friday it's dumping Paula Deen, barely an hour after the celebrity cook posted a videotaped apology online begging forgiveness from fans and critics troubled by her admission to having used racial slurs in the past.

The 66-year-old Savannah kitchen celebrity has been swamped in controversy since court documents filed this week revealed Deen told an attorney questioning her under oath last month that she has used the N-word. "Yes, of course," Deen said, though she added, "It's been a very long time."

The Food Network, which made Deen a star with "Paula's Home Cooking" in 2002 and later "Paula's Home Cooking" in 2008, weighed in with a terse statement Friday afternoon.

"Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month," the statement said. Network representatives declined further comment.

The news came as Deen worked to repair the damage to her image. She abruptly canceled a scheduled interview on NBC's "Today" show Friday morning. Instead Deen opted for a direct appeal via online video — one that allowed her and her staff complete control of what she said and how she said it.

"Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable," Deen said in the 45-second video posted on YouTube. "I've made plenty of mistakes along the way but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners - I beg for your forgiveness."

The online video allowed Deen and her staff a direct appeal to viewers and complete control of what she said and how she said it. Deen adopted a solemn tone as she looked straight into the camera. Still, her recorded apology featured three obvious edits — with the picture quickly fading out between splices — during a statement just five sentences long.

"I want to apologize to everybody, uh, for the wrong that I've done," Deen says as the video begins. "Uh, I want to learn and grow from this."

Deen initially planned to give her first interview on the controversy Friday to the "Today" show, which promoted her scheduled appearance as a live exclusive. Instead, host Matt Lauer ended up telling viewers that Deen's representatives pulled the plug because she was exhausted after her flight to New York.

Court records show Deen sat down for a deposition May 17 in a discrimination lawsuit filed last year by a former employee who managed Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House, a Savannah restaurant owned by Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The ex-employee, Lisa Jackson, says she was sexually harassed and worked in a hostile environment rife with innuendo and racial slurs.

The transcript of Deen's questioned by an attorney for Jackson shows she was peppered with questions about her racial attitudes. At one point she's asked if she thinks jokes using the N-word are "mean." Deen says jokes often target minority groups and "I can't, myself, determine what offends another person."

Deen also acknowledges she briefly considered hiring all black waiters for her brother's 2007 wedding, an idea inspired by the staff at a restaurant she had visited with her husband. She insisted she quickly dismissed the idea.

But she also insisted in her legal deposition that she and her brother have no tolerance for bigotry.

"Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is" or what gender a person is, Deen said. "It's what's in your heart and in your head that matters to us."

___

AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this story from New York.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Comments
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Brother Thomas
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June 22, 2013
Simply absurd. Folks, it is just a word. Has political correctness reached a level that a simple word can cause this much uproar. Of course, next thing we will see riots in the streets if we burn a certain book.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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June 21, 2013
The world has truly gone mad.....
For Crying Out Loud
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June 21, 2013
Give the old lady a break. Back when she was growing up the "n" word was used in everyday language. Do I think that's OK? Of course not. However, that is how it was in the "old" days. Do I think she is genuinely sorry for what she has done. Absolutely. I know that I've done plenty of things that I have regretted in the past and I am guessing that I will continue to make mistakes the older I get. We as a society need to realize this and practice forgiveness.
Lib in Cobb
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June 21, 2013
Fuzzy Zoeller paid for his racial stupidity, I hope the same for this jerk.
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