After a terrible week for celebrity comfort chef Paula Deen, her family has decided to come to her defense. Allegations of racism against Deen have resulted in her dismissal from the Food Network and other lost opportunities, but her sons say that their mother is no racist.
On Tuesday, Deen’s sons said that the allegations of racism against her are false and represent clear “character assassination.”
“Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted toward any other person for any reason,” Bobby Deen told CNN.
“Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you’d ever meet,” he added. “These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it’s very sad.”
Deen’s sons, celebrity chefs in their own right, have joined untold scores of Paula Deen fans who have most recently overwhelmed Food Network’s Facebook page with angry messages, demanding that the Southern belle be offered her job back.
“I’m disgusted by the entire thing, because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination,” Bobby Deen continued.
Jamie Deen added that the allegations are “ridiculous,” and that it’s “completely absurd to think there is an environment of racism in our business, and it’s really disrespectful to the people that we work with. We have strong, educated men and women of character that have been with us for five, 10, 15, 20 years. To think they would allow themselves to be in this position is simply baloney. It’s ridiculous.”
Jamie Deen also said that his parents taught him the story of baseball player Hank Aaron as a child, illustrating that “the challenges (Aaron) had to overcome because of his color was unacceptable.”
Will Paula Deen’s Reputation Recover?
Though many have come to her defense in recent days, some are asking whether Paula Deen will survive the silver bullet that racist allegations cast over a career, especially an already-controversial one in the public eye.
Fox News reports that in addition to Food Network and Smithfield bailing on the Paula Deen brand, QVC, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Random House, Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation and many more are all on the fence, with some calling it just a matter of time before they call it quits on their relationship with Deen.
“Paula Deen is finished as a bankable personality. It doesn’t appear that anyone will stand behind her now. Her video apologies seemed stage and were unpersuasive. There is nothing more she likely can do in terms of salvaging her career,” said crisis communications expert Gene Grabowski of Levick Strategic Communications.
“Most important of all, there are plenty of other younger and more attractive personalities among chefs and foodies that the cable networks can find, cultivate, and promote to take her place.”
But publicist Glenn Selig says not to dismiss Deen just yet, and that the apparent scandal still hasn’t played itself out.
“Her biggest problem in the short-term will be with retailers, e-tailers and anyone else who has a business venture with her. They will feel the pressure to drop her. But I think it’s a good idea for companies in business with Paula to wait and see how this plays out. We don’t fully know what we did and how bad it is and how the public will come down on this,” he said.
What do you think of Paula Deen? Is her career over?