Yesterday the National Enquirer published a particularly controversial claim that they had obtained a transcript where Paula Deen admits to using the "N" word, made racist jokes, and wanted to have black waiters at a wedding to represent "slaves."
The transcript, from a hearing for the case where Deen and her brother Earl "Bubba" Hiers are accused of subjecting employees to "violent, sexist, and racist behaviors" when working for the Deen empire, has been released via Talking Points Memo. While National Enquirer did, naturally sensationalize the transcript, it's still pretty condemning.
Deen claims that she primarily used the N-word when discussing being robbed at gunpoint.
The transcript reads:
Q: Have you ever used the N-word yourself?
A: Yes, of course.
Q: OK. In what context?
A: Well, it was probably when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.
Q: OK. And what did you say?
A: Well, I don't remember, but the gun was dancing all around my temple.
A: I didn't — I didn't feel real favorable towards him.
Q: OK. Well, did you use the N-word to him as he pointed a gun in your head at your face?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Well, then, when did you use it?
A: Probably in telling my husband.
Q: OK. Have you used it since then?
A: I'm sure I have, but it's been a very long time.
Meanwhile, the section of Deen explaining wanting to have all African-American servers at a wedding was clarified where Deen staunchly says, "I did not mean anything derogatory by saying that I loved their look and their professionalism," despite admitting that she was hoping to recreate the era of the Civil War, during the Civil War, and before the Civil War when black men and women waiting on white people were considered slaves.
Deen's attorney Bill Franklin told CNN while Deen would not discuss pending court cases, "Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable," Franklin said. "She is looking forward to her day in court."
Read the whole transcript over on Talking Points Memo; The most controversial subjects begin at page 21.
Paula Deen Admits to Using Racist Slur in Deposition
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.
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Paula Deen’s Apology for Using the N-Word Is Ridiculous
Deen says she’s sorry for using the n-word in her past … but it’s OK because she’s old and from the South.
Senior Entertainment Reporter
Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images
Butter lovers everywhere were stunned Wednesday when a transcript leaked of Paula Deen admitting to using the n-word. An all-you-can-eat buffet of outrage followed, so naturally a statement of apology was released on her behalf. And it’s pretty baffling, y’all.
Basically, the statement, issued by Paula Deen Enterprises, says it’s OK that Deen uses that word because she’s old and from the South.
Here’s the statement, which was issued to TMZ:
"During a deposition where she swore to tell the truth, Ms. Deen recounted having used a racial epithet in the past, speaking largely about a time in American history which was quite different than today…
…[Paula] was born 60 years ago when America's South had schools that were segregated, different bathrooms, different restaurants and Americans rode in different parts of the bus. This is not today…
…To be clear Ms. Deen does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstance by anyone nor condone any form of racism or discrimination. "
A quick recap: Deen was deposed in connection with a sexual harassment lawsuit that was filed against her and her brother, Earl “Bubba” Hiers, by a former employee who claims, among other things, that her employers used language in her presence that could be deemed racist. In her testimony, the 133-page transcript of which was released Wednesday (read our summary of the highlights here), Deen admitted to using the n-word in the past. (She also defends an outlandish-sounding desire to stage a wedding “Southern plantation style” with black waiters acting as slaves.)
Asked if she used the controversial word, she said “yes, of course.” She says she hasn’t used it in a “very long time,” but recalls a specific incident that she said it, after she was held up at a gunpoint by a black man while working at a bank. She said she used the word while recounting the traumatic incident to her husband.
The incident she was referring to was in 1986.
In her apology statement, Deen—or at least the PR people speaking on her behalf—justified her use of the n-word by saying she used it a long, long time ago, a time when, apparently, using it was not quite so frowned upon. In her deposition, however, Deen admits to using it in 1986, a time when, definitely, using it was frowned upon. Immensely frowned upon, even. And when asked in her deposition if she’s used the word since that incident, Deen said, “I’m sure I have.” We can confirm that, since 1986, it’s been considered bad to use the n-word.
James Poniewozik at Time has the best take on why Deen, a very famous and very rich celebrity chef whose bread and butter (lots of butter, y’all) is tied to her Southern-ness, using the word is a story worth getting angry about.
“Deen made a pile of money off a certain idea of old-school Southern culture,” he writes. “In return, she had an obligation to that culture–an obligation not to embody its worst, most shameful history and attitudes. Instead, in one swoop, fairly or not, she single-handedly affirmed people’s worst suspicions of people who talk and eat like her–along with glibly insulting minorities, she slurred many of the very fans who made her successful. She made it that much harder to say that Confederate Bean Soup is just a recipe.”
It’s understandable that Deen’s camp would want to remedy the situation by issuing an apology. If only the apology they issued didn’t leave such a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
Paula Deen Apologizes for Racist Testimony in Video Statement: 'Please Forgive Me'
After totally blowing off the Today show this morning — much to Matt Lauer's irritation — Food Network star Paula Deen has released a video statement concerning testimony in which she admitted to using racial slurs (among other things). In the video, Deen says:
Despite only being 46 seconds long, there are (oddly) 3 cuts in the clip. Below, Deen addresses the controversy.
UPDATE 4:30 PM ET: It's pretty clear at this point that something fishy is going on. Deen's official, verified Twitter account tweeted a photo of her earlier today wearing the outfit she is wearing in both of these videos. The first video, as mentioned before, is edited very strangely and has been pulled. The two videos were posted to separate YouTube accounts, at least the latter of which was created just today.
Where is this footage coming from? Is Deen's camp gauging response, and pulling and reediting videos to get better traction? Or was the computer storing the footage (as well as possibly Deen's twitter account) somehow hacked? It's pretty clear the footage is real, but. what? Stay tuned.
UPDATE 5:05 PM ET: The Food Network tells Eater they will not renew Deen's contract.
UPDATE 5:25 PM ET: And there's a third video. It's not all that different from the second video.
YouTube: Paula Deen Responds to Racist Testimony
Update: So far today the video has been made private (and unwatchable) on YouTube twice. Here is an archived, unedited copy of the original:
Eater Video: Paula Deen Responds to Racist Testimony
Update 4:20 PM EST: Here's another apology video that appeared on YouTube:
YouTube: Another Paula Deen Apology Video
Transcript For the Second Video
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“This is a book about black aesthetics without black people,” Lauren Michele Jackson writes in the introduction to White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue… And Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation, out November 12. As Jackson illustrates in nine essays, the phenomenon touches all facets of American popular culture: “The Pop Star” considers how Christina Aguilera adopted black aesthetics to reinvent her image, while “The Cover Girl” examines the link between Kim Kardashian’s proximity to blackness and her rise to mainstream popularity.
“The Chef” interrogates cultural appropriation in food. In this excerpt from the chapter, Jackson takes on the Paula Deen story: her rise peddling recipes from an uncredited black chef, a lawsuit that led to admission that Deen had used the N-word, and why her racism wasn’t the cause of her ultimate downfall. — Monica Burton
Her story starts with overcoming. Paula had a “delicious childhood,” per her memoir, growing up in Albany, Georgia. By young adulthood, however, her life felt dire. “The tragedies began,” she writes. “And with them, I began to die.” By twenty-three Deen lost both her parents to repeated health problems, and she was left with “a sour marriage” (to an abusive alcoholic), two young children, her sixteen-year-old younger brother, and a creeping anxiety of the outside world. “I started waking up many mornings and wondering if this was the day I’d die,” said Paula. “And these thoughts just went on and on for twenty years, more or less.”
In the decades spent mostly confined to her home due to severe agoraphobia, she perfected recipes passed down from her grandmomma Paul: turtle soup, fried chicken, and fried peach pies dishes seasoned with herbs, fatback, peppers, and hog jowls. Too poor for therapy and unsupported by her faith, it wasn’t until her divorce in her forties that Paula returned to the world, selling bagged lunches filled with ham and chicken salad sandwiches and banana pudding to workers in downtown Savannah. She opened a small restaurant, then another, bigger restaurant. She published a cookbook with Random House in 1998 it was featured by QVC and sold seventy thousand copies in one day. Within five years she would make appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and host her own show, Paula’s Home Cooking, on the Food Network. Within another five years she would boast of having two restaurants, a magazine, several television shows, numerous cookbooks, her own line of cookstuffs, and a minor role in the 2005 film Elizabethtown.
Pre-order White Negroes now at Amazon or Powell’s.
Paula became the face of Southern cuisine, though the better qualifier for her dishes is more like “comfort food.” Baked macaroni and cheese, creamy mashed potatoes, cheesy grits, fried chicken, mayo-forward slaws, peach cobbler à la mode, peanut butter balls, a burger sandwiched between two doughnuts — her recipes don’t summon a particularly vivid sense of any region that calls itself Southern. They do evoke a cadre of emotions that non-Southerners like to pin on the South: warmth, simplicity, nostalgia, and, again, comfort. It’s the kind of food ordained to precede a nap, that fitness fanatics avoid like the plague or maybe reserve for the ill-fated “cheat day.” Butter, lots of it, mayonnaise by the tub, fat-soaked vegetables, cheddar oozing everywhere, liberal salt and pepper, but spices on the sparse side. Paula’s critics call her a “convenience cook,” a label shared with the Food Network talent Rachael Ray, denoting cooks who are more personality than chef. If true, convenience, like comfort, is still a virtue to the Southern nonchef. Cutting cheesecake slices to be covered in chocolate, rolled into wonton wrappers, deep-fried, and doused with powdered sugar, Paula permits viewers to start with something from the frozen food section or “You can make your own,” she says offhand with no further instructions on how that might be done. Her “Symphony Brownies” begin with prepackaged brownie mix the “special” twist is a layer of Hershey’s chocolate bars inside the batter. No harried parent or broke college student or first-time dinner host will encounter a fatiguing list of ingredients when they turn to one of Paula’s recipes. Paula’s recipe for fried chicken only requires three seasonings: salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Then there is the woman herself. She’s straight from a Disney picture — and not Song of the South, but something more Renaissance era, when stereotypes were still fun and racism much less obvious, even if the back of your mind knew it was there. She’s the grandmother urbane Yankees try to forget and feel tremendously guilty about, for which they must find an appropriate surrogate. She’s not perfect or polished she licks her thumb and covers imperfections with fudge and confectioner’s sugar. She’ll gasp upon seeing a gooey trail of melted cheese and treat a burger with a fried egg on top like a Travel Channel–worthy adventure — and she likes that burger medium well. She’s stout like people say they like their cooks (even if female chefs — celebrity or otherwise — rarely escape size-based scrutiny). She’s safe in the way America desexualizes women of her age and size, and yet she gets to be forever girlish. In short, she’s white Mammy, plumping America one fried delicacy at a time.
In March 2012, Lisa Jackson, the white former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oyster House, in Savannah, Georgia, filed a lawsuit against the owners, Deen and her brother (Bubba Deen) on the grounds of racism and sexual harassment. Jackson claimed that black employees were held to a higher standard of performance and required to use bathrooms and entrances separate from white employees. She also alleged that Bubba often made racist remarks and sexual comments and forced her to look at pornography with him in addition to putting his hands on other employees. Paula was accused of enabling her brother’s behavior. Worse, the suit describes Paula’s involvement in Bubba’s 2007 wedding as an out-and-out desire to fully recreate an Old South fantasy, with Negro tap dancers and all. In May 2013, Paula gave a videotaped deposition and in June 2013, National Enquirer claimed it had the footage. Within twenty-four hours the transcript of that deposition showed up online. Paula denied the discrimination allegations against her and her brother, but what she did reveal was almost as bad. She admitted to expressing her hope that her brother would experience a genuine Southern plantation wedding reminiscent of an antebellum or postbellum era when black people waited on white people. She admitted to living in a household where jokes involving the N-word are told to her “constantly.” When asked if she had ever used the N-word herself, Paula responded, “Yes, of course.”
It was the N-word heard around the world — again — and she hadn’t even said it on camera. That latter detail offered just the wiggle room needed to turn Paula into the subject of debate. The suit was dismissed without award in August 2013, but Food Network, Walmart, Target, Sears, Kmart, Home Depot, Walgreens, and several other companies had already cut ties with Paula over a month earlier. Other former employees came forward with allegations against Paula and Bubba — including one who said they were repeatedly called “my little monkey” — but the loss of Paula’s bread and butter was all that was needed to martyr her. While the nation had one dry eye trained on the trial and acquittal of the man who killed a young black teen in cold blood, its other eye teared up for Paula, who released not one but two videos apologizing “to everybody. For the wrong that I’ve done.” CNN solicited fellow Georgia native Jimmy Carter to weigh in, who felt perhaps the hammer was brought down too harshly. Sales of Paula’s most recent cookbook soared, jumping from the 1,500s to the number one spot in Amazon sales.
Paula did not go gently into that good night, and to those ignorant of the scandal it might look like she was having her best years ever. She raised at least $75 million for her company Paula Deen Ventures from a private investment firm. She bought the rights to her Food Network shows and began streaming them on the Paula Deen Network, her own subscription streaming platform. She appeared on Matt Lauer’s Today show with her sons Jamie and Bobby to tout her new enterprise — and also sorta reflect on the fallout from the deposition. She appeared on Steve Harvey, again with Jamie and Bobby in tow, to do the same. She joined ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and made it to week six, when she was eliminated for a dry recreation of Madonna’s mesmerizing “Vogue” performance at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards. She opened a cookware store. She went on a twenty-city Paula Deen Live! tour. She reissued her own out-of-print cookbooks. She opened new restaurants under the Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen franchise, promising “a family-style dining experience born from the classic recipes of the Queen of Southern Cuisine herself.” She launched a clothing line with a creative name — Paula Deen’s Closet. Jamie and Bobby got their own Food Network show called Southern Fried Road Trip.
It’s amazing what America finds room to forgive and what it has no room for. N-word-gate was not Paula’s first controversy. In 2012, she had visited the Today show to announce that she had been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and had been knowingly living with it for three years. She also announced, in nearly the same breath, her partnership with Nova Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company that sells the diabetes drug Victoza. The bald-faced doubled-up announcement confirmed everything her eagle-eyed critics knew to be true. Months prior to her announcement, the late Anthony Bourdain said, in an interview with TV Guide, “The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.”* He added, “Plus, her food sucks.” Hounded for a follow-up quote after rumors of Paula’s impending diabetes news came to light, Bourdain had his own question: “How long has she known?”
People felt hoodwinked. There seemed to be something profoundly wrong with using a platform to push buttery, sugary, mayo-laden meals while treating a condition with causal relation in popular culture, if not quite in medicine, to those ingredients. It didn’t make the most sense — bacon-wrapped fried mac and cheese doesn’t develop a complex nutrient profile if the person cooking it doesn’t have diabetes. But people thought Paula had been irresponsible and was now trying to profit from the antidote to her “bad” behavior. She’d eventually put out a new New York Times bestseller, Paula Deen Cuts the Fat. Bobby Deen got his own spin-off brand, debuting his show the same year called Not My Mama’s Meals, remaking “classic” Paula recipes with less fat and calories. The jig was too transparent.
Americans felt more affronted and returned more cruelty when they decided the woman had gotten ill from her own supply than when they discovered she was probably racist. Making us fat was unforgivable, but the N-word was a gray area. I believe Ms. Deen could have walked right up to the camera and flipped the bird with a hearty “Fuck you, nigger!” and still be forgiven by white America and Steve Harvey. Her easy journey back into our good graces says as much.
The problem with Paula actually has little to do with whether or not she’s racist. It’s not so much a matter of the aftermath, but of how a woman like Paula got to be Paula in the first place. Why was Paula Deen, whose coherent Southern-isms boil down to an accent, a tan, and a countrified kitchen, allowed to be the singular word on Southern cooking for over a decade? There are absolutely country people — which includes the North- and Southwest, Midwest, and East and West Coasts — like Paula who cook with Fritos and Bisquick and make do with packaged staples in trying to stretch a dollar in an unforgiving economy. But that’s not why people loved Paula. Deen amassed an empire because she represented the version of Southern culture American morality wanted to live with. The recipes not attributed to her innate Southern instincts have been vaguely passed down by some ur-Southern relative, neatly side-stepping any reasonable query into when a black person factors into that inheritance — and in the South, it is a matter of when, not if.
In Paula’s case we needn’t search for long. Dora Charles, a Savannah-based black chef descended from Lowcountry sharecroppers, was the unsung backbone of Paula’s enterprises. She opened Paula and Bubba’s Lady & Sons alongside the pair, though not as co-owner, but by developing recipes and training cooks on a wage of less than ten dollars an hour, she told the New York Times in 2013. This did not change when Paula made it to television. “It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me,” she said, adding more support to circulating claims that Paula’s N-word use wasn’t a one-time far-off affair but part of her everyday speech. Before things took off, Paula made Charles a promise: “Stick with me, Dora, and I promise you one day if I get rich you’ll get rich.” But once the riches came, Paula wasn’t sharing. Not until 2015 would Charles have the opportunity to publish her own book with a major publisher after decades of hustling in Paula’s shadow.
Paula, still wealthy, now moves mostly in the background, letting major distributors, syndication, and royalties do the work. Since the height of her visibility, a craft revolution has changed the public’s relationship to the things people put in their mouths, or at least their ideas about their relationship to the things they put in their mouths. People now want small-batch beer and ancient-grain bread, artisanal ice cream and old-school butchers and mayonnaise made from non-GMO oils and eggs laid by free-roaming chickens. Those who can afford to wave away the processed and mass-produced have done so in search of something authentic. This includes a more rigorous interest in genuine Southern cooking in the most varied sense: regional BBQ, Lowcountry boils, backwoods moonshine, freshwater fish fry. But if America has learned anything from its love affair with Paula, that wisdom remains to be seen. The who’s who lists of heritage cooking are largely white. Even the resurgence of barbecue, possibly the blackest cooking technique within US borders, jushed and priced up to befit artisanal obsessions, is being led by mostly white pitmasters. Zagat’s “12 Pitmasters You Need to Know Around the U.S.” mentions only two black pitmasters, Ed Mitchell and Rodney Scott. Mitchell and Scott, each extraordinary, are customarily the lone black folks on such lists. (A 2015 Fox News compilation of “America’s most influential BBQ pitmasters and personalities” managed to avoid black people altogether.)
Instead of reckoning with Southern food’s past (and present), white Americans fuss over the small, monied group of restaurateurs who may brand themselves hands-on archivists it is another form of fetishism, another way for liberal white Americans to have the South they want (pleasant, rich, storied, flavorful) without the black and brown people who remind them of how the South came to be the South.
Excerpted fromWhite Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue…And Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson (Beacon Press, 2019). Reprinted with permission from Beacon Press.
Natalie Nelson is an illustrator and collage artist based in Atlanta.
Food Network Drops Paula Deen
By Colin Bertram &bull Published June 21, 2013 &bull Updated on August 23, 2013 at 12:30 pm
The announcement Friday that the Food Network would not be renewing Paula Deen's contract capped a week of chaos for the celebrity cook, triggered by revelations that she has used racial slurs — including the N-word — in the past.
The network's announcement came just after she failed to appear for a scheduled "Today" show interview and issued two online video statements begging her fans and partners for forgiveness for having used slurs before.
The statement from the cable channel simply read: "Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month." No reason for the parting of ways was given.
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A high-profile fixture on the network, "Paula's Home Cooking" began airing in 2002 and was joined by "Paula's Party" in 2006 and "Paula's Best Dishes" in 2008.
Deen, 66, is also the author of 14 cookbooks that have sold more than 8 million copies and her bimonthly magazine "Cooking with Paula Deen," has a circulation of nearly 1 million, according to her website.
In a statement to "Today," Deen responded to Food Network's announcement, saying, "I would like to thank The Food Network for 11 great years. Because of the gift The Food Network gave me, I have had the pleasure of being allowed into so many homes across the country and meeting people who have shared with me the most touching and personal stories."
Deen's use of racial slurs were made public during a deposition as part of a $1.2 million lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers own the restaurant.
In the lawsuit Jackson claims she was sexually harassed by Hiers and that Deen used the N-word around her.
According to a transcript of the video deposition, Jackson's attorney asked the Food Network star if she has ever used the N-word.
"Yes, of course," Deen replied, adding, "It's been a very long time."
Deen went on to say she may have also used the racial slur when recalling conversations between black employees at her restaurants, but she couldn’t give specifics, The Associated Press reported.
"I wanna apologize to everybody. for the wrong that I've done. I want to learn and grow from this," begins a weary-looking Deen in the first, heavily edited 46-second video posted to YouTube Friday afternoon ahead of the Food Network announcement.
"Inappropriate, hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable," she haltingly continues. "I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I beg you. My children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness."
"Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made," she pleads once more before the screen fades to black.
Earlier Friday the self-proclaimed queen of Southern Cooking failed to show for an interview on NBC’s “Today” show to discuss the controversy.
"We started hearing from her people that she is exhausted," "Today" host Matt Lauer said on-air. "Her publicity person simply said they believe she is in the hotel but she has not confirmed anything other than she is not here this morning."
It was this no-show that Deen addressed in the second video released just over an hour after the first.
"Hello y'all, I'm Paula Deen. I was invited this morning to speak with Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful for a lot of people," she says while seated in what appears to be an office environment.
"And Matt, I have to say, I was physically unable this morning," Deen continues. "The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others, so I've taken this opportunity now that I've pulled myself together and am to speak to offer an apology to those I have hurt."
Throughout the second video, a visibly distressed Deen wrings her hands as she addresses her use of racial slurs in the past.
"I want people to understand that my family and I are not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are. I've spent the best of 24 years to help myself and others. Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. But it's what is in the heart, and my family and I try to live by that."
"And I am here to say that I am so sorry, I was wrong. Yes, I've worked hard and I've made mistakes, but that is no excuse. And I offer my sincere apology to those I have hurt, and I hope that you forgive me. Because this comes from the deepest part of my heart and I will continue to work and continue to do good things for good people. Thank you for listening."
It was not the first time Deen's mouth had placed her in hot water.
In 2012 it was revealed that she had diabetes for three years while continuing to promote high-fat, high-sugar recipes in her televised appearances and cookbooks. The information regarding her health was only made public at the same time it was announced she would become the celebrity face of an initiative by a diabetes drug company.
In the months following the announcement Deen lost weight and began telling her fanbase to only eat hgh-fat foods in moderation. Her healthier approach to eating was called in to question in June when she debuted a range of self-branded "finishing butters" to be sold at Walmart. Deen encouraged cooks to add the product at the end of food preparation in order to bring a butter taste to various dishes.
Paula Deen's Racist Deposition Transcript Released Deen Responds - Recipes
Paula Deen Controversy Paula Deen Apologizes Zimmerman Trial is On
Aired June 22, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everyone. Welcome, everyone.
I promise you you're going to enjoy this hour of news. You're going to get the news here on CNN this hour. But I ask that you sit down and I want you to watch without distraction, especially the first half hour of this program.
We're going to discuss what's garnering the attention of most of the country right now and that's celebrity chef Paula Deen accused of being a racist. Can she recover from it? Can anyone in her position recover from it?
She is a million dollar empire, $20 million empire. But as you and I know, this story goes far beyond Paula Deen. She is just the catalyst for what is sometimes uncomfortable and sometimes painful conversation that we all need to have whether we think we need to have it or not.
And we've assembled a group of people who know a lot about all of this, who are going to help drive this conversation tonight, including the reporter who broke the story -- a crisis management specialist and a culture and race expert.
But, first, I want to give you a little bit of background before we start to talk about this.
Paula Deen is a Southern fried superstar known for her butter laden recipes and her sugar sweet vocal twang.
PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: Take a look. Look at all the butter in this kitchen. I've probably got about four pounds of butter. We are going to poach our lobster tails in --
LEMON: So here is where that $20 million empire comes from. It includes cookware, a magazine, restaurants, in Savannah, Georgia, called the Lady & Sons and Uncle Bubba's Oyster House.
Well, in March of 2012, a former restaurant manager filed a lawsuit against Deen and her brother Bubba alleging discrimination and racial harassment. Well, the 66-year-old Deen testified on May 17th of this year. She admitted she had used the "N" word in the past, but she added, quote, "That's just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the 1960s in the South."
Well, Wednesday, Deen's testimony went public, erupting in a firestorm of controversy. Thursday, Deen's camp released a statement saying, in part, "To be clear, Ms. Deen does not find acceptable the use of this term under any circumstances by anyone nor condone any form of racism nor discrimination."
Well, Friday, though, was bewildering. Deen was scheduled to appear on NBC's "Today" show to talk about the controversy. Then, at the last minute, Deen backed out and canceled the interview. Hours later, she released a polished, edited video in which she apologized. And apparently, unsatisfied Deen then released a more casual video.
DEEN: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me, but it's what in the heart -- what's in the heart and my family and I try to live by that. And --
LEMON: OK. So, you know, that was not enough to save her TV show because late Friday, Food Network canned Deen, announcing it would not renew her contract. Deen quickly released a statement thanking Food Network for 11 great years.
And then, today, Paula Deen's fans and her critics are serving up huge portions of outrage.
So let's talk about this now. Alexis Tereszcuk is in Los Angeles tonight. She is the person who broke the story on "Radar Online". She is the reason that we're talking about it.
Howard Bragman also in Los Angeles tonight. He is the chairman of Reputation.com.
And then, we're going to go to Nashville very shortly. We're going to talk to Tim Wise. He's an author and antiracism writer and activist.
It's good to see all of you.
So, Alexis, I want to start with you. When you first reported this story, did you have any idea there would be so much outrage around it?
ALEXIS TERESZCUK, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, RADARONLINE.COM: Absolutely. This is Paula Deen. She has probably had one of the worst years of her life. She's already brewing controversy over her diabetes and not telling the truth about that for three years.
So, when we learned about this we knew it was going to be huge. She is probably one of the most well known chefs in the world because of her charm. But when that charm turns ugly, hardly anybody can forgive that. So, we realize this was a big story.
This is not something that anybody could brush under the rug. This is something that is insulting. It's outrageous.
And the fact that she admitted that she did it and said, "Well, yes, you know, 20 years ago I did say this word," was shocking. It was stunning somebody could be so honest about being so blatantly racist.
LEMON: So, everything in context, though. She did say she was asked in depositions, you're supposed to be as honest as possible. You're supposed to be honest. You're not supposed to lie.
And so, if someone asked her a question, she answered it. She said it was years ago. She did it in the privacy of her own home. She said she did it to her husband, Alexis, after a man went into the bank and robbed the bank at gun point and stuck a gun to her head.
Now, listen. It's a derogatory term but you're not going to be calling that guy honey after he sticks a gun to your head.
TERESZCUK: That is absolutely true. That's what she said, too. She said, "I've learned my lesson all these years later."
But the thing was that we also reported on "Radar Online" was that she was found in contempt of court by this judge. This was not a happy court case by any means. She was actually ordered to turn over a bloopers reel from Food Network where she is doing all sorts of very racy things and making sexual comments and actually using some pretty foul language.
And so, again, she refused to do this and this judge found her in contempt of court. She was doing everything in her power to stall this lawsuit and do absolutely nothing to settle it or pay for it.
LEMON: OK. Producers, I want to ask, do we have the longer version of that 40-second version of the apology? I want to play it first and then I want to get Howard to respond to see if he thinks she responded correctly.
DEEN: Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me. But it's what in the heart -- what's in the heart and my family and I try to live by that. And I am here to say I am so sorry. I was wrong, yes. I worked hard and I've made mistakes.
LEMON: OK. Howard Dean, you're used to dealing with crisis management. There was a more polished video before and then this one was after as you watched it unfold yesterday what were you thinking? Howard Bragman, I'm sorry.
HOWARD BRAGMAN, VICE PRESIDENT, REPUTATION.COM: Well, I was -- that's all right. I didn't run for president yet.
I was on an airplane and I'm watching, you know, first I saw the first -- the one I called the pink faced version, right? And my mouth was agog. Then I'm thinking, this is a professional TV person who can't give us 44 seconds of copy without 58 edits during the middle of it, looking inauthentic?
And then the other one came out.
You got to understand the big picture strategy. The big picture strategy is you want this story to go away. Every time you apologize, which to my best count has been four times, her lawyer's apology and the three videotapes you continue to make a bigger story.
I mean, this has been a disaster from the start.
Can I go back a second to the deposition? What Alexis talked about, the whole deposition was a disaster. Not just because she admitted using the "N" word but because she talked about how she wanted to have a plantation theme wedding for her brother.
I mean, it's shocking. OK. It's shocking. In 2013 that somebody would be that naive to admit that. That she tells anti-Semitic jokes and black jokes and, you know, that she would do this. And it's really not up to her to decide what's going to offend other people. I think today, she knows what is going to offend other people.
Yes, Don, we have to tell the truth when we go to court, when we do a deposition. But you don't, there is nothing to stop you from solving the case. I have a client with a $20 million a year business empire. I am going to pay a million dollars to make this go away because we knew where this was going to go and she was getting bad counsel if she wasn't told this was an existential moment for the Paula Deen business.
LEMON: And when you said that yesterday, Howard, I heard you and I immediately texted you on I think it was "THE SITUATION ROOM" and you said how can you let a $20 million brand go under for a million dollars? Usually, lawsuits like this you settle them and you get rid of them because you realize the bigger picture, the larger picture here. That's not happening.
BRAGMAN: No. I'm sure there is a bit of anger and you go it's not true and I'm not going to be held blackmail and I'm not going to do this, you know, pay this out. I'm just going to open the doors to other people.
But there comes a point when you really have to put your ego aside and say, I got to do what is a smart business decision. If I have to give up a million dollars for $20 million a year, it's a pretty good business decision. Bad business decisions.
And interestingly, one media outlet reported today, the reason the Food Network eventually let her go yesterday was because she was handling it so badly. Not just what she did but the PR spin or lack thereof.
You know, we had a lot of time -- Paula Deen, not we -- Paula Deen had a lot of time to clean this up. This is the case that still has to go to court. Right, Don?
BRAGMAN: It hasn't been settled. And now, it's going to cost her $5 million to settle as opposed to a million dollars to settle because she certainly doesn't want to go to court and have to recant this testimony and go through this again. So you have weeks, you have days. What you should not do when you're in a crisis is rush. What you should do is take your time, decide on your strategy.
And, you know, you asked about this 44-second video. How did she do? I think she did fair the second time, obviously better than the first time. But there is something about sitting down with a journalist and answering their questions that has a power that putting in your own video and YouTube never will have.
LEMON: And reaching people, reaching her clients, reaching her fans because many of her friends watch the "Today" show and watch morning television and it is all about cooking segments -- at least a large part of it and it's a perfect venue.
But, listen, Alexis, I want to get back to you. Howard brings up a point. We talked about context here. Again, she is being asked these questions in deposition.
Many times we don't know what happened in this lawsuit that alleges discrimination. It could very well be a shakedown and now here you go, Paula Deen is on the verge of losing everything that she has worked for.
TERESZCUK: But here's the thing. This is not a custody battle with a minor child. This is a lawsuit with grown-ups. These are public records. We are going to find out about it.
I'm going to find out about it. I will call everyone that I know. I will call everybody that's involved in this. And the news will break.
There is no such thing as a secret anymore. So, if you have something this damaging out there, you need to be ahead of it.
I agree with Howard. This was handled so poorly especially because there is somebody who was wronged here. This woman that has sued Paula, she wants her case in the public eye. She knows it is going to do even more damage. This is how she is going to get her money.
It's news. There is not a secret, Paula. This is something that is public record and something that you had to know people were going to find out about. So, to also wait a week or even, you know, now almost two months to handle it, this is something that is an easy news get for people.
LEMON: OK, stand by, guys. Lots more to talk about this. And again we're waiting for Tim Wise to speak about the cultural significance of this.
And also, you've heard people say, black people say the word. Rappers say it.
Guess what? Many African-Americans are defending her. Some in her own restaurant last night. You're going to hear from them as well.
LEMON: OK. Welcome back, everyone.
We were talking about the Paula Deen story tonight, really about race in America.
Alexis Tereszcuk is in Los Angeles. She broke the story at radar online.
Howard Bragman is also in L.A. there he is. By the way, Howard is the chairman of reputation.com. Sorry for calling you Howard Dean a little earlier.
In Nashville, Tennessee, there is my friend Tim Wise. Tim, we were trying to get you up and had a little technical issue. Tim is an author and antiracism writer and activist.
So, let's talk about -- before we talk about the reaction from African-Americans, if you can roll the SOT -- this is one of the best conversations I saw, one of the most articulate conversations was on "360" last night with Anderson and his guest. I want to roll this sound bite and then we'll talk about it.
MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, EDITORIAL BRAND MANAGER, BET: Southern cuisine and black culture are intricately combined, right? So, she has benefited and participated and elevated a big part of African-American and American culture that she has not acknowledged. She could have done this without jeopardizing her case, like really be clear, like I understand the culture in which I have been participating, the culture in which I have benefited and I am sorry and giving some historic context to the triggers that she has touched.
She made no mention of the civil war and what a horror the institution of slavery is. She made no reference that Jim Crow is homeland terrorism. She has no compassion and comprehension for what she --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Not just the apology.
LEMON: OK. So listen. People talk about the first thing people say, no one wants to be accused of being a racist, right? That's like the worst thing you can do is accuse someone of being a racist.
But you can have racist thoughts. You can have racist actions and not be a full racist and I think many people don't realize that. Someone saying the "N" word or not noticing cultural references as she has all of this time, those are racist qualities. Am I wrong? TIM WISE, AUTHOR, COLORBLIND: Right. No, that's absolutely right. It's really about the blindness of white America to not only the history of that word and its meaning but also the history that she nostalgizes when she talks about wanting to have a plantation wedding for her relative or what-not.
The fact that about a year ago, she was over at "The New York Times" doing a conversation with a reporter there that's on video where she says, you know, back in those days blacks were like our family. We didn't think of ourselves as prejudiced.
Now, here is what is troubling about that to me -- putting aside Paula Deen -- because I got to be honest I don't really care what Paula Deen thinks about matters of race but what I do care about is the fact that folks are defending what she says and believes based on her age and that she's Southern.
Here is the problem with that. My mother is two weeks older to the day than Paula Deen. She was born two weeks before Paula Deen and yet she raised me to know that not only are those kinds of words unacceptable, but that in fact the history of the antebellum South is not something to glorify. It's not something to wax nostalgic about. It is something to be horrified by.
So, when Paula Deen discovered on that show "Who Do You Think You Are" that she had a distant relative that owned 30-some-odd other human beings, instead of being horrified by that, she sort of acted -- I mean, the way I saw it when I watched the show, it was almost like, wow. We were important people.
When my family found out or when I found out when my mom found out that we had also owned other human beings in our family we were horrified.
So, there have always been white Southerners, whether Paula Deen knows it or not and whether her defenders do who have stood up and said this kind of thing is wrong even going back to the colonies when Georgia was a colony before the revolution. There were whites in the Georgia colony who petitioned King George to end slavery because it was an evil institution.
So I'm less concerned with Paula Deen than with the ahistorical way in which people have defended her. Oh, she is 66. She's from the South. What do you expect?
What I expect is that she and other white Southerners step up and be instead of that person be Bob Zellner, be Anne Braden, you know, be Virginia Foster Durr.
WISE: Women and men who have stood up and done the right thing.
LEMON: Or be Tim Wise who is also a Southerner and speaking like this.
Tim, this encapsulates what you are sort of talking about from "TIME" magazine. It says, "Deen made a pile of money off a certain idea of old school Southern culture. In return, she had an obligation not to embody that culture's worst most shameful history and attitudes. Instead, in one swoop, fairly or not, she single-handedly affirmed people's worst suspicions of people who talk and eat like her -- along with glibly insulting minorities, she slurred many of the very fans who made her successful. She made it much harder to say that Confederate Bean Soup is just a recipe."
WISE: Right. Right. Yes, there is nothing that we ought to remember nostalgically about that era.
The food is wonderful. The food is also heavily influenced by African culture. And so recognizing that, recognizing that in order to be a member of the new South, one needs to take back from that old South the symbols, the positive messages, the positive heritage, rather than putting forth the negative view.
What distains (ph) me, as a white Southerner who knows that white antiracist tradition, who remembers that my father's mother, who born in 1920 stood up to her own father who was in the Klan and convinced him to leave the Klan, said basically you either burn your robes tonight or I'm going to do it, if she could do that in 1937, then Paula Deen can certainly be horrified by her own language and by things like plantation-themed weddings in 2011-2012-2013.
LEMON: OK. One more sound bite from "A.C. 360" last night.
DAVIS: She is profiting off southern culture today. So to say that she was born at a time when that was OK, I don't buy that. I feel like her fried chicken has come home to roost, and that she has to make a real effort and get uncomfortable to make an historic connection to where she is living and how she's living.
LEMON: So then how -- you said there's one thing I have to disagree with you on. When you said, I don't care what Paula Deen says about or feels about race. I do because of that quote because of what was said last night on 360 because there are a lot of people who think like that, who think just because, I say this in private or because I said it years ago or I happened to not think that it's bad that I'm not a racist.
She reaches those people. That's her audience. I do care what she says because she can make a big difference.
WISE: Oh, you're right, Don. It's not that I don't care. I just want to make the point this is far bigger than Paula Deen and the issue is really the way in which so many white folks are blind to the way racism historically and even today continues to do real damage and how we are often complicit in it even if we're not at our core evil people because we've internalized a lot of those biases which she may very well internalized and which a lot of other people have.
All right. Stand by. As I said, a lot of people are supporting her, including African-Americans, many at her restaurant. We're going to hear from them and we'll talk about can she recover? Can she recover from this $20 million a year business from this crisis?
We'll talk about all of that right after the break.
LEMON: So, we're talking about Paula Deen tonight.
Alexis Tereszcuk is in Los Angeles. She broke the story for radar online.
Howard Bragman is also in L.A. He is the vice chairman of reputation.com.
And in Nashville, Tennessee, my friend Tim Wise. He is an author and antiracism writer and activist.
So let's talk about now about people who are supporting her. There have been women outside her restaurant, people in her restaurants, many of them African-Americans, supporting her. And she is being supported by a pastor in her hometown as well.
First, let's listen to the ladies who are supporting her outside the restaurant.
REV. GREGORY TYSON, SR., FRIEND OF PAULA DEEN (via telephone): Just because you said the word, the "N" word doesn't make you a racist. I believe to be a racist it has to be some type of action shown toward the opposite race in a hate way or negative way. To say that she is a racist because she admitted to verbally saying the word, the "N" word doesn't make her a racist. Does it?
LEMON: OK. Then the women outside her restaurant.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it right? No. I mean, she could have used another term. But, hey, it was a mistake that she made.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She made a mistake and she probably shouldn't have said that but she has apologized and I think maybe we all take it for what it's worth. It sounds like it was sincere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it is a learning lesson for her and for the people that do forgive. So, I would forgive her.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: All right. Right up your alley, Howard Bragman, right up your alley, Tim Wise. First of all, the pastor said because she does all of these great things that does not make her a racist.
WISE: I don't think it's about is she a racist, is she not a racist. I mean, look, most of the research says we've all internalized a certain degree of racial bias. That just becomes a boring argument and a boring discussion. What I think we want to be clear about is that the use of that word, especially in the context where she admits using it, which was in an angry, hateful way -- I mean, those who want to say, well, rappers use it.
OK. Paula Deen ain't a rapper. Paula Deen is not using that word to say, hey, my N-word, let's go down to Mickey D's and get a Coke. Like that wouldn't even be appropriate. But that's not how she used. She used it in anger after a black man held her up. When you say it's not hateful if someone says that, the way she used it, the way she's confessed to using it actually was sort of hateful. So whether she is a racist or not the use of the term was racist and her nostalgia for the old south is incredibly problematic in that context.
LEMON: OK. So now to you, Howard. I'm sorry. There are delays here, a little cross thought. You heard those women. They said hey, I would forgive her. The pastor is saying, forgive her. You think she'll be OK?
BRAGNAN: You know what? Don, words hurt. Words damage people. I have been involved in the gay and lesbian community too long. I've seen kids kill themselves because of words because of bullying because of what people had said.
The pastor is wrong. Words do hurt. Words reinforce the worst of us. Paula Deen is better than this. As a pure business entity they should be smarter than this. It's wrong on so many levels. The callousness with which she went into the deposition and talked about Jewish jokes and black jokes and let people decide themselves, just callousness.
And I don't think she's an uncaring, insensitive woman. And we can forgive her. I believe in this society as we look back save for O.J. Simpson and Bernie Madoff we've forgiven almost everybody, OK, who's made huge transgressions. We will forgive her but she is never coming back whole. She -- her empire will never be as big and robust as it was. She will never make as much money. She will never have as much respect.
And the day she dies, this will be in her obituary. She has to wear the stain the rest of her life and she's earned it.
LEMON: What should she do now, Howard? What she should do is a couple things. She should circle the wagons with her team. She should go to -- you know, Paula has a huge empire. She has mattresses, she has furniture. She has ham. She has restaurants. She has food. She should go to every person that's there, make a specific, personal apology, a trip if she needs to, say "I'm there." Talk about what she's willing to do going forward.
And the second strategy I would do is probably take some of the empire and shift it over to her sons. When the Food Network let her go they didn't let her sons go. So you change it from the Paula Deen empire to the Deen family empire. Let her sons be the face of some of the endorsements, be the face of the TV show, and try and keep as much as you can. You have to stop the bleeding. You have to stop the attrition, Don.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Alexis, you know, we've been talking a lot about race here but this story goes on even beyond race. This is only really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this particular story.
ALEXIS TERESZCUK, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR, RADARONLINE.COM: You're exactly right. What the woman who is suing Paula is alleging is that she was also forced to watch, well, not watch but the men were playing pornography during working hours. She would see that. And that she was sexually harassed. So it's three terrible things. There is a lot more to come from this. This is not just going to go away just because Paula apologized for using the "n" word 20 years ago. She still has to face all of the details of this particular lawsuit and it is an ugly one.
LEMON: OK. Tim, you always come, whenever you come on you blow up our Twitter feed, my Twitter feed, CNN's Twitter feed. There are people saying this is exactly what is wrong with America. What Don Lemon and Tim Wise are talking about now. It is reverse racism. Why are you guys, you seem giddy. Why are you vilifying Paula Deen?
TIM WISE, AUTHOR "COLORBLIND": Well, I mean, vilifying? I said at the outset I didn't even care that much about Paula Deen. What I'm trying to say is that I think, and this is the irony of this, I think that white folks are better than this. I think that we are capable of better than this. I think that white southerners are capable of better than using our region and our past as an excuse for racist behavior.
If anything I'm actually saying the white folks don't fall into this stereotype, don't fall into this stereotype of white southerners which is what people who make excuses for her are doing. They are putting on those of us who are white and from the south the idea that, "Well, we just can't help it because we're from down here and we eat grits and we learned to use the "n" word when we were on our mother's knee." I mean, this is foolishness. You know, the reality is we are capable of better. We have proven that that there have been whites in the civil rights struggle, in the abolition struggle going back hundreds of years. Let's aspire to that rather than making excuses for the history of the region and its racism and people who still seem somewhat trapped in it.
LEMON: Those are our closing thoughts. Tim Wise, thank you. Alexis Tereszcuk of course Howard Bragman. We appreciate you guys and we'll see you on TV real soon.
Straight ahead in the "Newsroom" for the second time in days police search the home of the New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, walking away from the house with about a dozen evidence bags.
Jurors in the George Zimmerman trial will hear 911 calls from the Trayvon Martin killing but not any of the expert testimony about just who is screaming in the background.
And lawmakers say he is a traitor and they are pushing hard to have Hong Kong send Edward Snowden home to face espionage charges.
LEMON: Let's take a look at the headlines right now, just half past the hour here.
The daring and dangerous world of professional wing walking is a small one and there's not many of those performers left and tonight well there's one fewer. Look carefully. That is a woman standing on the wing of that stunt plane looping and diving and thrilling an air show crowd today in Dayton, Ohio. She is Jane Wicker one of the most well known wing walkers in America. Just a few minutes after this video was recorded something awful happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, I'm Jane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Charlie. Watch this. Jane Wicker sitting on top of the world. Oh, no.
LEMON: Well, we froze the video because we don't show the moment when someone dies. Jane Wicker and her stunt pilot both were killed in that crash today. It happened at the Dayton Air Show. One of the biggest in America with thousands of people watching. No word yet on what caused the plane to crash.
A big step in the George Zimmerman case today that could change the course of this trial. The judge ruled that testimony from two prosecution witnesses who analyzed screams of 911 calls cannot be used. Those calls were from neighbors who heard a fight the night Trayvon Martin died. The analysts' testimony is out but the judge said the audio can be played during the trial and witnesses familiar with the voices of Zimmerman or Martin can still be called to testify. Opening statements begin Monday morning 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is.
LEMON: Deadly floods devastating homes near Calgary, Canada. At least 10,000 people have been evacuated. Some leaving in boats and canoes. Gas and power have been cut off. Heavy rains soaked Calgary and nearby areas in brown waters, flood waters. Authorities say two people were killed and a third person now missing.
The U.S. wants Hong Kong to hand over Edward Snowden. An administration source says that U.S. officials have contacted Hong Kong authorities about extraditing the man who admitted to leaking details of U.S. surveillance programs. An extradition battle could be lengthy.
Federal prosecutors have filed espionage charges against Snowden, including theft of government property, leaking classified information, and leaking national defense information.
LEMON: All right. A standout NFL player is one focus in a murder investigation tonight. This is a Massachusetts home of Aaron Hernandez, a tight end for the New England Patriots. A friend of his was found shot to death this week a half mile away. Police visited the Hernandez home yesterday and then again today. They searched it twice. So live right now CNN's Susan Candiotti.
Susan, how long were police there today and what did they take out of there?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:: Hi, Don. They carried out at least a dozen evidence bags, medium sized paper bags, after spending four hours inside the home. And of course the key question is, what was inside those evidence bags? No one has the answer to that right now and another key question is, will all of this ultimately result in an arrest warrant for Aaron Hernandez?
No one has the answer to that question at this time. But we can tell you this. Detectives wearing protective gloves were inside the house today carrying all kinds of equipment. We also saw at least two police dogs inside. And as well a lock smith was in there carrying equipment in and out of the house before ultimately everybody pulled out.
We did not see Aaron Hernandez at all today. However, at this hour his attorney is still inside the home with him and as you indicated, this isn't the first time investigators searched the home. They were also here on Tuesday and spent a lot of time at that moment also.
LEMON: So, Susan, yes. Is that just some crazy person yelling? Nothing official right?
CANDIOTTI: Apparently some passersby right now, I don't know, at first I thought it might be the lawyer leaving the house but no.
LEMON: All right. We'll move on. Is the Hernandez home the only place police are searching right now?
CANDIOTTI: No, you know, also detectives executed a search warrant on Thursday. We learned about it today. And that was at a strip club in Providence, Rhode Island. We went there today and police confirmed to us that search was part of the ongoing murder investigation of Odden Lloyd who was found - his body was found about less than a mile from here.
But down at that strip club we know that authorities took away a copy of surveillance camera video from inside that club and that it consisted of more than a couple of days' worth of video. Now, exactly what they were looking for, evidence that perhaps that Aaron Hernandez was there, perhaps that Oden Lloyd was there. We don't know. We don't have those answers yet.
LEMON: OK. Again, we want to say, he has not - that Aaron Hernandez has not been named a suspect, has not been charged in anything, but I do want to know, because yesterday when - when I was on the air he had not really been seen in public for about a day and he hasn't said anything. Has he been seen, has he said anything?
CANDIOTTI: No. We haven't seen him at all today. We saw him return home after being away from home for several hours. He had left there the day before and only returned yesterday. So he spent a night away from home. But no sightings of him, no statements from him. Only one from his lawyer who said that they're not going to comment about any of this because of the ongoing process as they call it, the ongoing investigation. At the end of it. That's when the lawyer said he would have something to say.
LEMON: This is an intriguing story. I wonder how it is going to end up. Thank you, Susan. Appreciate it.
LEMON: From the trial of Whitey Bulger to another search for Jimmy Hoffa to the death of television's most famous mobster, it's been a mob heavy week in the news. We'll hit the highlights and look at what makes all of this so appealing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to make an offer (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Funny how, like I'm a clown?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you enter this family, there's no getting out.
LEMON: America has long been captivated by all things mafia. This week we've seen a number of stories that have brought the mob frenzy back in full force. It all starts with a trial of reputed boss and mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.
TOMMY DONAHUE, VICTIM'S SON: He is the lowest of the low. He's a mass murderer, like I said before. He's destroyed hundreds of families.
LEMON: His top associate and confessed killer John Monarato took the stand revealing grisly details about murders in which Bulger was allegedly involved.
"We would follow that car and when we caught up, we pulled upside and gave it what you called a broadside. Both guns shooting at once."
Near Detroit the FBI acting on a tip spent days digging up a Michigan field trying to find the remains of former teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my fondest hope that we can give that closure not just to the Hoffa family but also to the community to stop tearing that scab off with every new lead and bring some conclusion.
LEMON: This lead came from a convicted mafia captain. Hoffa vanished in 1975 and was legally declared dead seven years later. While Hoffa's legacy may have resurfaced, his body did not.
In New York, another dig. This time investigators unearthed human remains in the former home of the late Jimmy "The Genett" Burke. You may not recognize that name but he was the real life inspiration for Robert Deniro's unforgettable character in "Goodfellas."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and always keep your mouth shut.
LEMON: Then came the sudden death of James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack in Rome.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you in the mafia?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I in the what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whatever you want to call it. Organized crime.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's total crap.
LEMON: Gandolfini is best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in the HBO series "The Sopranos."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm just having some bad luck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just got worse.
RON SIMON, CURATOR, PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA: There was never a character as dark and complicated as Tony Soprano on American television. Gandolfini sort of created an archetype. Tony Soprano would become the catalyst for so many other dark, secretive characters.
LEMON: Well, there is no question the mob mystique has long fascinated Americans. But do the movies and books tell the real story of organized crime? We're going to talk with a former mafioso. Next on, CNN.
LEMON: OK. From the Whitey Bulger trial to the death of James Gandolfini, this week has been packed with things about the mob. We've become obsessed with it. And I want to bring in now Michael Franzese. He's a former mobster who was once listed as number 18 on "Fortune" magazine's list of the 50 most wealthy and powerful mafia bosses.
Wow, that's some claim to fame. So we've been talking about Whitey Bulger, Jimmy Hoffa, Jimmy Burke. During your time in the business did you run across these characters or characters like these guys?
MICHAEL FRANZESE, FORMER MOBSTER: I knew Jimmy Burke pretty well. As a matter of fact, the last time I saw Jimmy was in Lewisburg Penitentiary. He did me a few favors when I first got in there. So I knew him well. I didn't know Whitey, although I think I ran into him at the 3rd Street Promenade because I live around there. That's where they picked him up and he was hanging out and I could have sworn I saw him. But never met him. And of course Hoffa was a bit before my time.
LEMON: Yes. So you know, for decades the mob ruled major cities like New York, Detroit, Las Vegas, Chicago, all of them. But I mean, they've been pretty much stamped out. What's the status now on organized crime?
FRANZESE: You know, it's still there. I mean, you know, Giuliani led the charge in the '80s and they did a job on all five families, put a lot of guys away, myself included. But back then, you know, they had 1,400 FBI agents on all five families.
Today I believe they have less than 100. And what happens, Don, these things kind of run, you know, in phases. And every 10 years or so there's this big - you know, big strike against the mob, and then they let up a little bit and the mob builds up. And I think that's what's going to happen now. You're going to see it building up again because these guys are pretty resourceful. I wouldn't count them out.
LEMON: OK. So I've already told you that my favorite movie, one of my favorite movies is "Goodfellas." but how real "Goodfellas," "The Godfather," "Sopranos," "Scarface." how real are they?
FRANZESE: Well, you know, "Godfather" was a great movie but it was fictional. It probably did more for the image of the mob than any other movie out there. It was terrific. "Godfather 1 and 2." The third one they lost it. "Goodfellas," probably the most accurate depiction of the mob. I knew all of those guys very well. I knew Henry Hill. They actually mentioned my name in "Goodfellas." but very realistic. Same with "Donnie Brasco." Very well done. As far as "The Sopranos" was concerned, it was entertaining, the characters were good, but let me tell you this, if a mob boss was ever visiting a psychiatrist, he'd be in the trunk of the car by the end of the week along with the psychiatrist. So that's about how real that was as far as the story was concerned.
But the intriguing part was really the relationship that Tony Soprano had with his family. That's what was interesting to me. And I think that's what interested most people.
Paula Deen On Her Dream ‘Southern Plantation Wedding’
Last month, Food Network chef Paula Deen gave a videotaped deposition as part of a discrimination suit she’s facing in which she discussed her desire to have a “very southern style wedding” for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the “whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men” clad in white jackets and black bow ties, according to a transcript of the deposition filed in federal court in Georgia. Deen also admitted to having used the N word and discussed the ways the word could be “not said in a mean way.”
A copy of the deposition transcript is published below.
Deen, her brother Earl “Bubba” Hiers, her company, and the corporations that operate a pair of restaurants she owns in Savannah, Ga., are being sued by former employee Lisa Jackson. A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia by Jackson’s attorney, Matthew Billips, last November alleged she was subjected to “violent, sexist, and racist behavior” during five years working for Deen’s various businesses.
According to the complaint, Jackson began working for Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, a restaurant run by Hiers, in early 2005 and left in August 2010 due to the inappropriate behavior she said she was subjected to in her time there. In the deposition, Deen said she owns half of the corporation that operates Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House. Jackson also said she did some other work for Deen’s company and a restaurant she runs. The complaint alleged “racially discriminatory attitudes pervade” Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House where Jackson claimed African-American employees were required to use separate bathrooms and entrances from white staffers. Jackson also said African-Americans were held to “different, more stringent, standards” than whites at the restaurant and that Hiers regularly made offensive racial remarks. In the complaint, Jackson is described as a “white female.” However the complaint noted she has biracial nieces, so “derogatory remarks regarding African Americans are even more personally offensive to Ms. Jackson than they would be to another white citizen.”
Along with the allegations of racism, Jackson’s complaint accuses Hiers of making inappropriate sexual comments and forcing her to look at pornography with him. The complaint also said Hiers violently shook employees on multiple occasions and came to work in an “almost constant state of intoxication.”
Jackson’s complaint also accuses Deen of racism and enabling Hiers’ behavior. According to the complaint, Deen and other managers at her companies ignored Jackson’s attempts to discuss Hiers’ behavior. As evidence that Deen “holds such racist views herself,” the complaint details an incident that occurred when Jackson was in charge of “food and serving arrangements” at Hier’s wedding in 2007. The complaint includes a comment Deen allegedly made when asked by Jackson what type of uniforms the servers should wear at the wedding.
“Well what I would really like is a bunch of little niggers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around,” the lawsuit claims Deen said. “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”
In her deposition, which was given last month, Deen denied many of the allegations against Hiers and addressed the alleged comment about his wedding. Deen said she remembered telling Jackson and another employee about a restaurant she went to with an exclusively African-American waitstaff that she wanted to emulate, but was worried about the potential reaction. Though Deen admitted to using the phrase “really southern plantation wedding” she denied having said the N word.
“I remember telling them about a restaurant that my husband and I had recently visited. And I’m wanting to think it was in Tennessee or North Carolina or somewhere, and it was so impressive,” Deen said. “The whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie. I mean, it was really impressive. And I remember saying I would love to have servers like that, I said, but I would be afraid that somebody would misinterpret.”
Deen said “that restaurant represented a certain era in America.” When pressed by Billips, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Deen said she was referring to the period immediately surrounding the Civil War. She also said she knew people might “read something into it” if she used exclusively African-American servers at the wedding.
Though she denied having used the N word when discussing the wedding waitstaff, Deen admitted to Billips that she used the term in the past.
“Yes, of course,” Deen replied when asked if she ever said the word.
Deen said she employed the term when telling her husband about an incident “when a black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head.”
“I didn’t feel real favorable towards him,” Deen said of the alleged bank robber.
Deen also admitted she was “sure” that she’d used the word since that incident. Specifically, Deen said she “probably” used the word while “repeating” a “conversation between blacks.” She also said that her family, including Hiers, do not discriminate against any race and object to the N word “being used in any cruel or mean behavior.” Jackson’s attorney responded by asking Deen to explain how the N word might be used in a “non-mean way.”
“We hear a lot of things in the kitchen, things that they — that black people will say to each other,” Deen said. “If we are relaying something that was said, a problem that we’re discussing, that’s not said in a mean way.”
Billips also asked Deen whether she thought “jokes” containing the N word would be hurtful. Deen said she was unsure.
“That’s kind of hard. Most — most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks. Most jokes target — I don’t know. I didn’t make up the jokes, I don’t know,” said Deen. “They usually target, though, a group. Gays or straights, black, redneck, you know, I just don’t know — I just don’t know what to say. I can’t, myself, determine what offends another person.”
Though she said she does not tell “racial” jokes herself, Deen said she was “sure” members of her family have told jokes that contained the N word and that her husband “is constantly telling me jokes.” Billips asked whether Deen is “offended at all by those jokes.”
“No, because it’s my husband,” she said.
“Contrary to media reports, Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable,” Deen’s attorney, William Franklin, told the Associated Press in a statement. A spokeswoman for the Food Network issued a statement saying it will “continue to monitor the situation.”
Attorneys for Deen and Hiers did not respond to a request for comment from TPM. Billips declined to comment. In their filings in the lawuit, Deen and Hiers and the other defendants have denied Jackson’s allegations.
Share All sharing options for: Read an Excerpt on the Paula Deen Scandal in From Scratch: Inside the Food Network
Here now, an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming book From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin. Written with "extensive inside access, documents, and interviews with hundreds of executives, stars, and employees all up and down the ladder," the passage below is pulled from a chapter on the Paula Deen scandal, a last-minute addition to the book as the story broke this Summer.
The passage mostly chronicles what Salkin has put together about what happened on June 21, 2013. That was the day Paula Deen was supposed to go onto the Today show to discuss a leaked deposition in which she admitted to among other things, having used the N-word in the past. Deen bailed on the interview, releasing a string of bizarre apology videos later that afternoon before being informed that the Food Network would not be renewing her contract. Salkin tosses in some additional gems into the chapter as well, like the fact that the Food Network was "blindsided" by Deen's diabetes announcement and pharma deal, or that she had negotiated shows for her sons the last time her contract was up.
Salkin tells Eater that "while Deen's official spokespeople did not return calls seeking comment at the time I reported this chapter, the information in this excerpt was gathered from numerous sources inside the Deen camp, Deen's business associates, and well-placed sources inside Food Network." So keep that in mind while reading. From Scratch: Inside the Food Network comes out from Putnam Adult on October 1 (pre-order on Amazon).
Excerpt: From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin
The National Enquirer ran the first story in June 2013 about a deposition in a racial- and sexual-harassment suit against Paula Deen and her brother: "Paula Deen's Racist Confessions Caught on Video!" With the transcript online, a media storm ensued. "Paula Deen On Her Dream 'Southern Plantation Wedding" Talking Points Memo announced. Opinion pieces attacking her followed.
There was controlled panic among Paula's team. The timing was particularly awful for them because Paula's contract with Food Network was expiring that very month. The previous time her contract had neared its end in 2010 her agents Barry Weiner and Jonathan Russo had played hardball, putting Paula on the open market and making Food Network bid for her against other suitors. Part of what they won was an agreement for the network to give her sons Jamie and Bobby each a season of their own shows.
The situation was different this time around, even before the N-word revelations. She had blindsided the network a year earlier with her announcement that she was suffering from diabetes and had signed a multi-million dollar deal with pharmaceutical company to endorse a treatment. Food Network executives were so peeved that Paula's Best Dishes was put on hiatus and no new episodes were shot for about a year. In that time, Nielsen ratings for her shows still being broadcast were down almost 25 percent.
Jonathan had been negotiating with Food Network for months over a new contract for Paula. Her team was so sure an agreement would be reached that Follow Productions, the producer of her shows, had already begun preparations to shoot new episodes.
But as with Emeril, she had become an increasingly expensive star who was no longer pulling audiences like she used to, and it was taking awhile to come to an agreement. She was not alone in losing viewers. The only shows seeming to hold their own in the network's In The Kitchen block were Pioneer Woman and Trisha's Southern Kitchen: new faces. And in primetime, the news was also dispiriting, with a 15 percent decline in total households for the 2012-13 season.
From Food Network's perspective, much of Paula's decline was her own fault — at least some fans had not forgiven her for the diabetes deal. Her shows were no longer comfort food. Even before the latest debacle, the two sides were talking about the need to "freshen" Paula's show, with proposals not unlike those that had been tried with Emeril Live years earlier: invite interesting guests to cook with her, move the show out of her kitchen and into new locales.
Now it was all in doubt. A decision was made by Deen's team, which included the California-based public relations due of Jeffrey and Elana Rose, to offer Paula as a guest that Friday on the Today show, the broadcast outlet where she had made the diabetes revelation and other more successful appearances.
Their hope was that on the Today show Paula could explain that she was not a racist, that she was simply honestly answering questions put before her in a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled employee. The racial slurs were not who she was.
But Barry, who was down in Savannah with Paula, was growing concerned as he watched her grow more agitated. It was as if she had been told one of her children had been in a bad car accident. She could not believe that she was been pilloried like this.
To be on the Today show requires getting out of bed around 4:30 am and being at the studio and all made up and composed by 7 a.m. When Barry saw how sleepless and disheveled Paula, a 66-year-old woman, was as the time approached to leave for Rockefeller Center, he advised her not to show up for the interview. He knew it would not be a softball interview and she might completely fall apart. You can't put someone in a position to be skewered like that. It might haunt her for the rest of her life, he thought, and she, having followed Barry's advice successfully for more than a decade, agreed.
As the Today broadcast started, Matt told viewers, "We just found out she's a no- show."
Rather than quelling the fires, this fed them. Paula's situation was now a mess playing out across all the points of mass media — TV, cable news, celebrity and food gossip web sites and social media.
Exactly what Paula's team needed to do became clear when a call came to them from Cynthia Gibson, the chief legal officer for Scripps in Knoxville, a respected executive in the parent company. "What we need," she instructed, "is an unconditional statement of remorse and apology."
There was no promise that if Paula made such a statement, all would be forgiven by her employer, but it offered hope.
Inside Food Network and Scripps, a frenzy had been growing. Emails and phone calls were ripping back and forth. What should they do? Food had little stake in Paula's side businesses. Barry had resisted network efforts to get in on her action. Food did not get a cut of her clothing line or her new deal endorsing flavored "finishing butters." Not that they would have wanted it. What good was it that she was occasionally giving a nod to her new slimmer lifestyle by cutting down the fat in her recipes if she was endorsing a brand that showed you how to add it back? Didn't she get it? Brands need consistency. What did she stand for?
Besides being a publicly traded company that complied with all equal opportunity and anti-harassment laws, Scripps Networks Interactive maintained its stated core values, among them "compassion and support," and "diversity." A debate raged within the company about what to do and when to do it. Some wanted her gone immediately. Her contract was up. She had two major strikes against her, the diabetes fiasco and now the N word. Why wait for the third strike? Others counseled patience. Even if they were going to let her go, why do it in the heat of moment? Better to investigate for a few weeks, see how it played out, and do whatever they were going to do calmly in their own time.
Consulting on this trouble was the crisis management expert Jesse Derris. To him this was a moral question. And if that was the case, if Food Network had decided Paula was conclusively on the wrong side of the moral line here, she would have to begotten rid of sooner or later. The time to do it was now, when she had taken all the hits and given no significant response. Do it at her low and move on.
Even as this decision was nearing inevitability inside the network, Paula's team was scrambling to do what Cynthia had suggested, grasping at the idea that a complete apology would redeem her in Scripps' eyes.
They set about preparing to record their own video apology, something they could control. After noon, a photo was tweeted of Paula preparing to record the video. When it was released soon after, it struck many as strange. Although less than a minute long, there were three spliced together segments that seemed repetitive and generic: 'Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made," was the final line. It almost seemed like a rehearsal -- and it was. That video had been accidentally posted on a YouTube account, and then quickly pulled down. Nothing was going right.
Two more videos were then posted intentionally. They showed Paula apologizing more thoroughly and without edits, one to her public:
"The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others, and so I am taking this opportunity now that I've pulled myself together and am able to speak, to offer an apology to those that I have hurt."
And another to Matt for not showing up. "I'm a strong woman, but this morning, I was not."
Both were done very amateurishly. Paula was sitting on an office chair with what appeared to be a makeup tray, a can of Coke and a partially unfurled roll of paper towel strewn haphazardly on tables behind her,
SNI was a multibillion dollar, publicly-traded company. This would just not do. The company made its decision, and it was approved at the highest levels. Food Network president Brooke Johnson called Barry and told him the company would not be signing another agreement with Paula.
Moments later the network released a short statement and said it would not elaborate. "Food Network will not renew Paula Deen's contract when it expires at the end of this month."
Paula retreated to her home in Savannah over the weekend with her sons and husband. Her career seemed to have fallen apart in a few days, all because of what she and her family saw as an extortionate lawsuit against her. On Monday, Smithfield, the ham maker, announced it was ending her endorsement deal. Other commercial partners issued statements saying they were considering what to do. Jeff and Elana Rose stopped returning reporters' calls.
Even as she was abandoned, a groundswell of Paula defenders was starting to grow. One of the co-hosts of The Chew, Carla Hall tweeted, "I love you and I support you @Paula_Deen!" Of more concern to Food Network was a new Facebook page, "We Support Paula Deen," which, by midweek, was nearing half-a-million followers.
Inside Food Network, there was fretting. had they acted too quickly? As legions of fans posted comments on QVC's website, demanding she be kept, Food Network worried it would lose swaths of female viewers, lowering ad rates. The network pulled back on its own social media: it was not the time to cheerfully tweet links to brownie recipes. Bobby Flay, making a regularly scheduled appearance on Good Morning America, sidestepped the issue expertly, saying "You know it's a real unfortunate situation, but I'm not going to comment on it. I'm here to talk about some ribeye. "
Lee Schrager, about to open up ticket sales for the fall Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, faced the problem of whether or not to keep Paula's Gospel Brunch in the lineup. When tickets went on sale Monday, it had stayed.
Tiny victories, but Paula's future as a public figure was still at stake. Would any broadcaster or corporation ever want her again?
Paula Deen’s brother’s tragic death
Few people knew about Paula Deen’s brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers, until her deposition was leaked, revealing that Hiers went to rehab for cocaine addiction, had been accused of watching porn at work, and used the n-word while referring to President Barack Obama. In the wake of the scandal that ensued, Deen was forced to shut down the restaurant she and Hiers co-owned, Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House.
The 2014 closure of the restaurant stirred up a whole new mini-scandal, reported Savannah Morning News, when the restaurant was abruptly shuttered without anyone bothering to inform any of its employees. A police barricade had reportedly been set up to prevent cars from entering the Uncle Bubba’s parking lot.
Hiers made headlines again in 2019 when the Savannah Morning News reported on his death at age 65 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. "Bubba was the greatest brother who was loved by so many people," Deen said in a statement to the Daily Mail. "We will miss him dearly."