Paula Deen said she was overwhelmed and in a state of shock last week, which is why she canceled her Today Show interview on Friday. She sat down with Matt Lauer on Wednesday morning (June 26), and went over how she lost her deal with the Food Network, among other business partners, due to racially insensitive comments that emerged in a video deposition.
"There's been some very, very hurtful lies said about me," Paula told Matt, later adding, "The main reason I am here today, Matt, is it's important to me that I tell you and everyone out there what I believe and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this earth, every one of God's creatures, was created equal, no matter who you choose to go to bed at night with, no matter what church you go to pray.I believe that everyone should be treated equal."
Matt questioned her for 13 minutes. He pointed out that one of the headlines is that millions of dollars are at stake in her Today interview, so he wondered if she was there to do damage control to protect her finances. She said she was there because she wants people to know who she is. People that have worked beside her for years know what kind of person she is, but she's "so distressed" that people she's never heard of are suddenly experts on who she is. And their words are being given weight.
Does she think she's been treated fairly by the companies that have let her go? Would she have fired herself, under the same circumstances, as a businesswoman who understands the importance of branding? "Would I have fired me, knowing me? No." She said only two partners have dropped her and QVC is currently still standing by her.
Matt asked her, point blank, "Are you a racist?" Paula answered, "No, no I'm not." Paula said she was raised to not be unkind or treat others as if she's better than them. But she did swear to using the n-word and planned to have a plantation-style wedding event with African-American staffers. How does she use the n-word in any way and not be considered racist?
"The day I used that word, it was a world ago," she said. "It was 30 years ago. I had had a gun put to my head, a shaking gun because the man that had the gun to my head, unbeknowing to me, was my customer at the main office..." She's referencing a bank robbery attempt and she said she never used the word any other time. "It's just not a part of who we are."
She repeatedly said how "distressing" it is to hear what young people are calling each other. "These young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other and not throwing that word at each other. It makes my skin crawl."
She also cried talking about how she was raised not to tell lies so she doesn’t regret telling the truth in the deposition. Paula said she doesn’t want her supporters to boycott the Food Network for firing her, but she appreciates the support. “I think that we can never underestimate the power of those voices because these people who have met me and know me and love me, they’re as angry as the people are that are reading these stories that are lies.”
Paula cried again when talking about how she’s heartbroken over friends who’ve burst into tears over what’s happening to her. She’s had to console them. She also challenged anyone who hasn't said something they regret to "please take up that stone and throw it as hard as they can and kill me.” It's a dramatic interview! Watch it below.
Source: Today Show