Paula Deen appeared on The Today Show this morning to talk through her racial issues. In an emotional, more than ten minute interview, the celebrity foodie both defended herself against the bigoted charges and lashed out at the critics who have written scathing editorials about her. In theory, the chat was supposed to let the world know exactly where she really stands and to stop the rapid bleed of her business empire, but if the early response is any indication, her appearance was more of a safe box macaroni and cheese than a perfectly executed rare filet.
According to CBS News, both Walmart and Caesars Entertainment Corp announced this afternoon that they’re severing all ties with the Southern cook. Nine smaller companies with business ties to Deen, however, released statements vowing to stand by the embattled television personality. Here’s a copy of Tasty Blends Foods’ announcement, as per USA Today…
"We appreciate her commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation. We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for. We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives. We look forward to our continued partnership with her."
Nine companies to the positive and two companies to the negative might sound like a clear win for Deen, but unfortunately, Walmart and Caesars Entertainment Corp pack a little bit more of a punch than some of those other companies. Consequently, it’s hard not to see today’s result as anything other than a defeat, unless of course, QVC, a company that is still on the fence, decides to officially welcome her back into the fold.
With less of a delay and more of an immediate and aggressive blitz-apology-approach, Deen likely could have saved herself millions of dollars and a whole lot of public embarrassment, but fortunately or unfortunately, it’s not as if she had much experience with damage control prior to this scandal. In fact, until a few days ago, pretty much everyone would have described her using terms like affable and warm. Now, responses would be a whole lot more of a mixed bag.
Race is an extremely complicated issue in this country. Attitudes have not only fundamentally changed since the end of the Civil War, they’ve changed quite a bit over the past thirty years, particularly in the South, which is probably a pretty good indication of why public opinion has been so fiercely divided on the Deen issue. Personally, I think if we started firing everyone who used language they were later ashamed of, we’d have to fire damn near everyone, but unfortunately for Deen, I’m not the president of Walmart or Caesar’s.
We’ll keep you updated as other companies make their decisions on Deen’s future.