Food Network won't renew Paula Deen's contract
Matt Lauer wondered how someone could use the n-word and not be considered a racist.
"The day I used that word it was a world ago. It was 30 years ago," she said. "I had had a gun put to my head." That was during a robbery attempt when she worked in a bank.
Deen denied that she had admitted using the n-word on other occasions.
"I have never," she said. "They asked me in all of my 66 years on Earth had I ever used it. That man was so frightened that day he put the gun to my head, because he was a customer at the main office. He was later caught. And I had gone out on a limb for him and gotten him a loan."
Deen said she didn't know if African Americans are offended by the n-word. "It's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other," she told Lauer. She said she had never joined the use of that language.
"For this problem to be worked on, these young people are going to have to take control and show respect for each other and not throw that word at each other. It makes my skin crawl," she said.
Deen said her professional survival could rest with her fan base. "I think that we can never underestimate the power of those voices," she said.
The food star said she didn't have an intolerant side. "What you see is what you get. I'm not an actress. I'm heartbroken," she said.
Her tone ranged from sorrowful and self-pitying to defiant and self-congratulatory.
In an especially dramatic moment, she made a plea to viewers. "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," she said. "Please. I want to meet you. I want to meet you."And she added: "I is what I is, and I'm not changing."
What is the source of her problems?
"There's someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it," Deen said.
Deen said the kinds of people that she is prejudiced against are thieves and liars. "I know, as well as I'm sitting here with you, I know how I treat people," she said. "I know my love for people. And I'm not gonna sit here and tell everything that I have done for people of color. I'm not gonna do it. Somebody else can tell that."
What did you think of her performance?