Paula Deen's "Today" show interview may have started out as an attempt at an apology by the former Food Network star for her admitted use of a racial slur in a legal deposition, but reaction on social media outlets has quickly turned into an attack on interviewer Matt Lauer.
Was Lauer too harsh on Deen?
In Deen's "Today" appearance, the host interrupted Deen frequently. When she attempted to apologize, he insisted on focusing on the "business" side of the ordeal. His demeanor was that of a serious interviewer with a no-nonsense approach to the subject.
New York City-based crisis-management consultant Mike Paul told the Los Angeles Times that the interview "only added to this perception that she is out of touch." But based on social media reaction, it also turned Lauer into the bad guy.
The "Today" Facebook pages erupted in comments immediately following Deen's appearance, with the majority of them focused on Lauer's treatment of Deen.
"Matt Lauer was rude and condescending in his interview with Paula Deen, not to mention he continued to interrupt and cut Paula off during the interview -- he was on the attack -- no wonder his popularity is dwindling down!" wrote Nancy Powell.
"Geez Matt, you weren't interviewing Claus [sic] Barbie for God's sake. It was Paula Deen. I have to wonder if you would want to be held accountable for something you said 25-30 years ago. I know I wouldn't. This is a non-story," wrote Sandy Ammon.
Commentor AC Schultz followed with "Has Matt Lauer been forgiven? Its all over social networking and internet that he was discriminating Ann Curry [sic], bullied her. Is that somehow different than being 'racist' ??? Was that appropriate behavior for business Matt? Seems in your case, it was! #doublestandard."
People also took to Twitter to show their support for Deen. Actress Stacey Dash wrote "God does everything for a reason @Paula_Deen Only God can judge your heart BTW my daughter loves your show (only way she can get me to cook)."
Courtney Shumpert @courtneyraeSC wrote "Like no one else has ever said a derogatory comment; rappers do every day, but we don't fire them. At least she is apologetic #pauladeentoday.
Despite her fans' support, TMZ is reporting that Caesar's Palace has announced it will no longer work with Deen and will close all four of Deen's restaurants on its properties. Deen was also recently dropped by the Food Network and major sponsor Smithfield Foods.