Paula Deen on 'Today': "I'm Not Changing"
Food Network personality Paula Deen appeared on Today Wednesday in an attempt to save her brand following the revelation that she had previously used the n-word. (Following the reveal in a deposition related to lawsuit filed against Deen by an employer, the Food Network announced it would not be renewing Deen's contract, and Smithfield dropped Deen as a sponsor.)
Deen was scheduled to appear on Today Friday, but canceled at the last minute. On Wednesday, however, the celebrity chef faced Matt Lauer to defend her actions. (View the video here.) Said Deen on the program, "I'm so distressed that people I've never heard of are all of a sudden experts on who I am."
Tearful at times, Deen attempted to explain her use of the n-word, blaming the era in which she used it, and claiming, despite a deposition that claims otherwise, that she only used the derogatory term once, while being robbed. But when asked if she'd wished she had "white-washed" per past under oath, Deen stressed she does not believe in lying. But, still, "I have never hurt anybody on purpose, and I never would."
The chef, who vehemently denied that she was a racist, told Lauer she would not have fired herself. "I'm here today because I want people to know who I am," she said. "I know my love for people, and I’m not going to sit here and tell everything I’ve done for people of color.”
Indeed, though Deen owned up to using the term, she still placed the blame elsewhere. Presumably referring to Lisa Jackson, the former employee whose lawsuit led to the scandal, Deen told Lauer, "There's someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for, and they wanted it."
Deen also asked dissenting viewers to turn the mirror on themselves, "If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please, I want to meet you."
Concluded Deen during the interview, "What you see if what you got. I'm not an actress. I'm heartbroken ... I is what I is and I'm not changing." But will viewers and fans accept that following her scandal?