Paula Deen skipped out on her Today show appearance this morning. Deen committed to appear and discuss accusations that she is a racist. The controversy stems from deposition transcripts, which were revealed earlier this week.
Matt Lauer reportedly spoke with Deen on the telephone, inviting her to appear on the NBC program. Deen agreed to the interview in an effort to address the accusations. However, Paula Deen failed to appear on the Today show as promised, sparking even more confusion and controversy.
As reported by USA Today, Deen arrived in New York on Thursday evening. Lauer spoke with Deen to confirm the interview. However, at the beginning of this morning’s program Lauer announced “we just found out she’s a no-show.” With no notice and little explanation, Deen stood up the Today show.
The entire controversy stems from a deposition transcript. Deen’s former employee Lisa Jackson has accused Deen and her brother of sexual harassment and using racial slurs.
In the deposition, Deen admits that she used racial slurs in the past. However, she points out that “it’s been a very long time.”
As reported by The Washington Times, Deen cites several occasions when she may have used the “N-word,” including a time when she was robbed at gunpoint. When asked if she thinks racist jokes are mean, Deen states:
“That’s kind of hard … Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … you know … I can’t … determine what offends another person.”
Also drawing stark criticism is Paula Deen’s admission that she suggested hiring an entire staff of black men, wearing white jackets and bow ties, for her brother’s wedding.
Deen admitted in her deposition that she has made racial statements in the past. However, she vehemently denies using them in recent years. She contends that she and her brother are not racist.
Representatives with the Food Network have stated that they are evaluating the situation. They explain that they do “not tolerate any form of discrimination and [are] a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion.”
When questioned about Paula Deen bailing on the Today show, her representatives simply stated that she is “exhausted.” Deen likely is exhausted, as she is dealing with some intense criticism. Unfortunately, backing out of a live interview likely made the situation worse. At this point, her best option may be to address the accusations and try to move on.