Increasingly runny deviled egg Paula Deen has spent the past week being handed bad news after bad news, without so much as the elegant, personal touch of a black man in slavery era-garb to cushion the blow. This morning, after losing her home at the Food Network and being hit in the face with a ham that no longer wants her face on it, Deen finally got to respond in a forum only slightly more professional than haphazardly edited YouTube videos, sitting down with Today’s Matt Lauer for a do-over on the interview she backed out of last Friday. As can only be the case when America’s embarrassing grandma meets America’s dickish cousin, it was a grueling, emotional mess—a gloopy casserole made of hot tears.
Running for nearly 13 minutes (as there’s certainly nothing else in the news worth talking about today), the exchange found Lauer offering a typically unsympathetic ear as he asked her whether she was simply here to stave off any further loss of endorsements and protect her brand. Meanwhile, a constantly choked-up Deen sidestepped these to reiterate that she was just there to tell everyone “what I believe.” And what Paula Deen believes is that she is not a racist, and also that “there’s someone evil out there” intent on hurting her with lies that make her and her 7-year-old grandson cry.
Among those lies is the pervasive notion that Deen has used “the N-word”—a notion fostered when Deen said, “Yes, of course,” she was sure that she had, in the legal deposition that launched this whole story. But Deen now says, no, she only used it just that one time, after a robbery in the bygone era of 1983, the word briefly popping into her lexicon and then promptly back out again. Besides, Deen says she remains unclear as to whether that word is even all that wrong, given how often she’s heard black people say it to each other. Asked by Lauer whether she has “any doubt in your mind that African-Americans are offended by the N-word?” Deen replied:
I don't know, Matt. I have asked myself that so many times, because it's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It's very very distressing. For this problem to be worked on, these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other and stop throwing that word at each other. It makes my skin crawl.
And yet, until Matt Lauer finally drags all these young people under his talk-show lights to answer for the many times they’ve made Paula Deen’s skin crawl with their rampant abuse of the word that haunts her every day—no doubt making her wonder whether all her supposed advancements were for naught, and reminding her of a backwards time that might be fun to revisit for a wedding, maybe, but certainly not one you’d want to live in—Deen must continue to shoulder the blame for racism. As she explained in the interview’s emotional climax, it’s a lonely life to be beset by angry people who wish only to do her harm, of the sort endured by Jesus Christ or maybe Popeye:
If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back — if you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please. I want to meet you. I is who I is and I'm not changing.
“Great interview, Paula! Sidestepping questions, denying answers you gave under oath, calling your accusers evil liars who make little children cry, suggesting young black people are the real racists, making disturbingly melodramatic pleas for a martyr’s death, creating a soundbite where you say you refuse to change while using a backwardly Southern idiom, generally giving the impression that mostly you’re just sorry that you have to put up with all this… You really hit all our talking points!” said Deen’s PR crisis manager that she just carved out of butter, apparently.