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Katy Burns

Katy Burns: Down the drain with Paula Deen

  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

  • In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past.  The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

    In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past. The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

  • In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past.  The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

    In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past. The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

    NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES
  • In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past.  The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)
  • In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past.  The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)
  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES
  • NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Chef Paula Deen onstage at the Comedy Central "Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre, October 13, 2012 in New York City. The show will premiere on COMEDY CENTRAL on Sunday, October 21 at 8:00 PM ET/PT with additional live wrap-arounds from "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" studio in New York City, featuring a celebrity phone bank, allowing viewers to call in during the airing to donate. (Photo by Gavrysh/PictureGroup) via AP IMAGES

Well, no doubt all of America was greatly reassured when embattled butter booster Paula Deen assured Today’s Matt Lauer that she would never have fired herself.

And she tearfully told the world that these days her time was being taken up by legions of her dear friends who kept collapsing in her arms, weeping uncontrollably at the injustice she, Paula, was suffering. So many terrible lies – lies – were being told about her.

Paula Deen, for those who have been living in a cave somewhere, is the self-styled queen of Southern cooking. Which in her case seems to mean heart-stoppingly large quantities of butter, mayonnaise, sugar and batter-fried stuff used in any number of ingenious if slightly disgusting combinations.

(I must note here that my Southern-born friend Laura reflexively gags when this stuff is described as “Southern cooking.”)

Until recently Paula – who has two restaurants, countless cookbooks and a line of cookware – ruled the roost at the Food Network, banking on her clouds of billowy white hair, rosy cheeks, ample padding and deep drawl to charm viewers. But in a cataclysmic two or so weeks, Paula’s world has become undone. And that was why she found herself pouring her heart out to Lauer early Wednesday.

It all started with the n-word – you know, that word.

It seems that one of her restaurants, Uncle Bubba’s, is co-owned by her brother Bubba. Yes, he’s really Bubba. A former female employee – interestingly, a white woman – sued the siblings for having an offensive workplace, claiming that racist and sexist slurs

were the order of the day when Bubba and Paula were on site. And, incidentally, that Bubba looked at pornography on his office computer – and shared it with his workers.

In the course of a very long deposition for the case, Paula was asked if she had ever used “the n-word.”

She said she had. Well, she really sort of cheerfully chirped, “Yes, of course.” After a beat (she was no doubt replaying that response in her head) she added that it was “a long time ago.”

Now normally a woman of Deen’s age (66) and upbringing in the segregated South admitting to using a racial slur early in her life might not cause that much of a stir.

Even if she did seem a tad unrepentant when she ’fessed up. But then there was the rest of the deposition – and all the stuff that’s come out since.

For example, she defended defining her ideal wedding as a “Southern plantation wedding” featuring all black waiters in white jackets and black bow ties because it reminded her of southern America “before the Civil War.”

She did allow under questioning that, yes, those servers would have been slaves, but she “did not mean anything derogatory.”

And when asked if it is okay to use racial slurs in jokes, she seemed bewildered, telling her interrogator that “It’s just what they are – they’re jokes
. . . Most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. . . . I can’t determine what offends another person.” Most jokes?

It turned out that in 2012 – remember, things live forever on the web – she also told another interviewer, with pride, that she has a “black friend.” He – in fact an employee of hers – is “black as a board.” And then she hollered for him to “Come out here, Hollis. We can’t see you standing against that dark board.” The interviewer was, understandably, nonplussed.

In the same interview, she said that her great-grandfather was brought low when, after the Civil War, he lost “his help.”

“They were like family,” she said mournfully of the lost “help.” Who were, of course, enslaved people owned by said bereft ancestor.

A major charge in the suit is that Deen’s brother, Bubba, was accused of looking at pornography at work and showing it to employees.

Asked whether she has any problem with such practices, Deen said she didn’t “if somebody sent him something.”

It became the story. Paula Deen is a first-class boor.

The cumulative effect of this outpouring of Deenisms wasn’t good for Paula.

In a relatively short time her Food Network contract wasn’t renewed, and Smithfield Foods dumped her as a spokeswoman. And so she took her case to Matt Lauer and the huge Today show audience.

It didn’t do much good. By the end of the day, “partners” (as she called them) Walmart and Caesar’s Palace had fled. They had stuck with her when it came out that Deen had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – there’s a shocker – in 2008, but kept it quiet for three years and continued to push her unhealthy food. She only announced her illness when she got a lucrative contract to promote diabetes medication.

So much for any notion that she’s just a sweet and naive grandmother.

A few observations:

First, if you want to present yourself as the epitome of all that is wholesome in Southern culture, don’t blunder and highlight the worst history of that culture.

It doesn’t help the region’s reputation, especially when your followers take to Twitter and Facebook to defend you in the crudest terms.

Second, this aspect of Paula Deen didn’t just materialize in a deposition this year.

Clearly a whole of lot of people knew the real and totally clueless and offensive aspects of Paula Deen. And they were as oblivious as Paula Deen is.

Third, it is worth noting that many of these revelations occurred in a week when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a close decision, that our nation had outgrown a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

Racism is presumably no longer a problem.

Right.

At the end of her interview on Today, pathetically self-pitying Paula wiped her tears and proclaimed that “I is what I is, and I’m not changing.” Then she added balefully that “there’s someone evil out there that saw what I worked for and wanted it.”

Uh huh.

Golly, maybe, just maybe the real villain here is none other than Paula Deen, who has come close to destroying herself.

(Columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

Legacy Comments22

Ah yes Savannah. Hard not to fall in love with that quirky,sultry, ghostly charm. Like they journalist said in the movie, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil, Like Gone With The Wind On Steriods. I was lucky that my daughter went to college there, so I could experience Savannah for 4 years, She had one of the best college experiences ever there. The food, the people, the ghosts all charmed me. Love it there.

TCB I totally agree. Spent a lot of time in Savannah and I can tell you that folks get along quite nicely there also. It would be very difficult for any racist in that town to be successful, from a businesswoman, a politician, educators etc. Not how they roll in Savannah. Northerners have no clue about how different blacks in the south are as compared to blacks in the north.

Rabbit, Ah yes - the cobble stone riverfront, the horse drawn carriages around the numerous beautiful parks, Tybee Island the hauntrd house tours and the civilized custom of walking around the parks in the afternoon with a cup of your,, favorite (in styrofoam cups - of course. :-)) .and of course --..drum roll --..Paula Deen's.

I find this whole topic just a waste of airtime and print space. Exactly what is the big deal. A Southerner made some crude references based on race, what a shock. I just fail to grasp why after twenty or so years this is now such a crisis. The fact is she is still the same person that she was a few weeks ago - talk about manufacturing an issue. Also I am more personally shocked by Obama's responsibility for our recent weather, than with behind the scenes blame for the whole Paula Deen fiasco. The heavy rain flattened some of my garden, you can bet I will be holding the President responsible. Oh and I had a flat tire too. Some of you people never fail to amaze...............

Touché

You are correct Mauser. Being accused of being a racist should require that someone actually did practice racism on a person of color by not hiring them for a job, calling them names to their face, etc. Deen is deemed a racist because of what she said to her husband privately. How many of us would pass the test of being unbiased about anything if what we said in private was known by all? Deen's only mistake was her honesty. Now she is being crucified.

I think the best thing Paula Deen could do right now is get out of the limelight until this cools off. She has plenty to do behind the scenes by running her restaurants, writing her cookbooks, and perhaps she could write about this experience and make another million dollars with her loyal fans.

Wow! Mrs. Bean and I were speculating over breakfast about how quickly someone could tie this to Obama. And what logic they'd use. Congrats, Van, you win the prize.

Facts are a very scary things to liberals. Fact Katy is a fanatical Obama supporter fact Deen was also an Obama supporter. Fact Pre-Civil days Democrats designed laws that attempted to keep blacks away from the polls so they won't vote Republican. I could keep on counting Bean.

Mrs. Bean here. You've totally missed the point of Mr. B's comment. I'd say you were being deliberately obtuse, but probably not. The point isn't whether you are correct--like all of us, in some things you are and in some things not so. The point was that your obsessive need to be right in this particular area of life is so overwhelming to you that you can be counted on to politicize just about anything, no matter how irrelevant to the topic at hand. I'm sure if Ms. Burns made a bland posting about ants or the weather or the price of potatoes you'd find a way to tie it to your hatred of Obama. It's good to be able to rely upon something in life. Thank you for providing that service to some of us.

Do you have a point? Oh, I get it - Obama was responsible for the KKK and Jim Crow, right?

Publius, you must think Obama is doing such a great job that no one can complain about him. Fact Obama is doing a horrific job. He is totally unfocused on the economy and national defense he just wants to be a jet setting playboy. My point was that democrats were responsible for the KKK and Jim Crow laws and I stated just that. Sorry you can't read.

Thank you. I wasn't quite getting it. Seriously, though, it is quite interesting how the two major political parties have traded positions in the last 150 years. It is certainly a fact, Van, that the Dems of the 19th century were the party of Jim Crow. It's also a fact that they are the polar opposite of that now. It's also a fact that Katy Burns supports Obama. I don't know enough about Paula Deen to know if you are correct, but I'll accept your assertion on that. But so were 60-million-plus other American voters. Does that mean that all 60 million push unhealthy food? And as for Alec Baldwin, I think he's a heck of an actor but as a human being leaves a few things to be desired.

How about a reality check. There is no correlation between the Southern Democrats you refer to and what you commonly bash as democrats now. Proof of this is in your actual post. "Democrats designed laws that attempted to keep blacks away from the polls so they won't vote Republican." If you even thought about this before you typed it, you would have seen the irony. When was the last time a Democrat wasn't vilified for trying to get out the minority vote? Try looking at the voter ID laws that the GOP are pushing.

mauser1, Was that tongue-n-cheek? if not, the position is bigoted beyond belief. As it, "all southerner, all republicans and so forth. Sounds like you never been down south and take your knowledge from a Neil Young song. The greatest majority I Southerners I know ( 10yrs in the south) get along quite nicely. There some racists but assume they are white. After that time, I can assure you - racism is not a "whiteman's disease" despite the almost constant implications by NE media. Racism is quite alive & well with non-whites also. I disagree with open racism no matter who is wearing the coat. If we are to eradicate racism - taking off the blinders of assumption would be a good first step.

It's been over 40 years since Republicans showed any interest in civil rights legislation, unless it was to vote against it. Lyndon Johnson's successful efforts to pass civil rights and voting rights legislation in 1964-1965 turned most white southerners into Republicans overnight. Nixon's "Southern Strategy" in 1968 was recognition of this fact. The party of Lincoln is now the party of the Confederacy Redux. Without the South, with its base of white, evangelical voters, the GOP would already by a permanent minority party.

Let’s remind Katy and her readers that Paula Deen was an Obama supporter. Thanks you Katy for reminding us how Southern Democrats used the KKK and Jim Crow laws to prevent Blacks from Voting Republican. Also Katy I am looking forward to your column on why Capital One and 30 Rock should fire Alec Baldwin for his multiple homophobic slurs and threats of violence. http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2013/06/28/anderson-cooper-why-does-alec-baldwin-get-pass-using-gay-slurs-conser#ixzz2XYMYypbd

Well, Katy, it appears that a woman who you've been dying to find a reason to hate, despite her goody-two-shoes, "everybody loves her" persona has finally given you that reason. And before you thought to ask yourself, "Is the treatment of Paula fair, given how far in the past her racial transgressions were and how back then, in the south, things were, shall we say, "different", and how there are countless comedians currently using the "N" word every night on our televisions . . . you went off half-cocked and penned this "gotcha" column. I agree with you more often than many posters here, Katy, but couldn't you find any other more important stories to talk about this week??? I can name several off the top of my head that are more pertinent to folks in NH and people in general than this salacious, gossipy, celeb story.

Alec Baldwin and his homophobic slurs and the liberals' double standard comes to mind. His slurs just happened not something happen 30 years ago.

You're right, Van, Alec Baldwin's latest rant isn't getting the coverage Ms. Dean is getting. But I don't want Katy writing about THAT either. How about the situation in Egypt? Or the Zimmerman trial? Or how about an Obamacare update?

Dan, I respect your post. You stayed on topic and made some really good points. I hadn't really thought about it that way, and because of the way you couched your argument I'm seeing Katy's article in a different way. Thank you. Bean

Thanks, Bean!

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