In a week that has been full of unsettling news for the celebrity cook and restaurant owner after her admission of using racial slurs to refer to black people, Paula Deen’s Food Network contract has been dropped.
Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed queen of Southern cooking and a regular fixture on the Food Network, was dropped by the network on Friday, following an event filled day which began with the 66 year-old television cook cancelling an interview on the “Today” show moved on to her posting two online videos in which she begged her family and audience for forgiveness for using racist language.
The day for Deen has culminated in her “dismissal” from the Food Network with the news that her contract will not be picked up for next year.
A network spokeswoman said it would not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of June.
On Thursday, widespread criticism of her statements about race flooded the social network, Twitter, with users inventing a Paula Deen specific hashtag #paulasbestdishes and remarks were left on Ms. Deen’s own Facebook page. On Friday, she apologised on YouTube for her racial admissions in a court deposition in a lawsuit over allegations of discrimination in her workplace. In the deposition, she said that she had used racial slurs, tolerated racist jokes and condoned pornography in the workplace.
The Food Network statement did not give any specific reasons for dropping Deen, but a person close to the network said its shows featuring her sons, Jamie and Bobby, would not be affected. Ms. Deen currently has three regular shows on the network, including “Paula’s Best Dishes.”
In her first video on Friday, posted on YouTube and later removed, Ms. Deen, near tears, said: “I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this. Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable.”
It seems that the second attempt was a move to quickly establish some less tearful damage control. But with Paula Deen’s contract being dropped by the Food Network after the second apology video was posted, it apparently wasn’t enough for the network.
In the longer, less tearful, video posted later in the afternoon, Ms. Deen said, “Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter,” she said, adding, “ I was wrong, yes, I’ve worked hard, and I have made mistakes but that is no excuse and I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt, and I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart.”
Where the first video appeared to be a heartfelt and very sincere attempt at apologising, the second one has the feeling of a more “scripted” venture which gave Ms Deen a more composed and calmer appearance.
In The video she makes reference to her failure to appear on “Today” for a scheduled exclusive interview with Matt Lauer, citing exhaustion. She apologises to Mr Lauer as well. She tells Lauer that, “I have to say, I was physically not able this morning.”
But Ms. Deen managed to upset her most stalwart fans once before, when in January 2012 she announced her diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes on the same day that she endorsed the diabetes drug Victoza and a lucrative collaboration with Novo Nordisk, the drug’s manufacturer. The reason? She’s built her career on a no-holds-barred approach to sugar and fat (creating recipes like a cheeseburger patty sandwiched between two doughnuts and a Better than Sex cake made with cake mix, pudding mix, and heavy cream), she was widely criticised for encouraging an unhealthy diet for others, while first hiding her illness and then trying to profit from it.
The lawsuit against her was filed in March 2012 by Lisa T. Jackson, the general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant that Ms. Deen owned with her brother, Earl (Bubba) Hiers. Ms. Jackson, who is white, said that her father was Sicilian, with dark skin, and that she had suffered prejudice as a result.
In the deposition, Ms. Deen said that she had used a racial slur in the past, though not in the restaurant, and that she and her family did not tolerate prejudice. “Bubba and I, neither one of us, care what the color of your skin is” or what gender a person is, she said. “It’s what’s in your heart and in your head that matters to us.”
It now appears that despite Ms Deen’s attempt to calm the furor that her statements caused with the release of another apology video, the Food Network has decided that it can afford to drop Paula Deen’s contract in June. You can see the longer video below.
By Michael Smith