NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Were they crocodile tears or the real deal?
Kitchen queen Paula Deen got extremely emotional Wednesday during her first interview since coming under fire for racial remarks made more than 20 years ago.
Deen didn’t mince words, saying she is not a racist in her first public appearance since whipping the nation into a frenzy over controversial statements she made about African-Americans.
“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,” Deen said.
Deen testified under oath last month that she had used the “N-word” in 1986 to describe a man who had attempted to rob her and held a gun to her head.
Deen said she was sure that she had used the word since. The revelation sparked a cascade of criticism against the celebrity chef.
“I have never with any intention hurt anybody on purpose, and I never would,” Deen told Matt Lauer during an interview on the “Today Show.”
Deen’s multi-million dollar empire is feeling the heat. The Food Network dropped her almost immediately, and Smithfield Foods and Caesars Entertainment followed. QVC, Target and Sears said they are weighing their options.
Image consultant Dinah Day told CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown that for Deen to survive the blow, she has to stop the financial fall-out.
“I think all the storytelling is trying to buy some time so that she will appeal, so that her approach will be appealing to the general population who wants to believe in her,” Day said.
“I think she needs to exactly express what happened, take full responsibility for it. Perhaps with these companies that are dumping her, to make some form of, pardon the expression, amends,” Day added.
Deen stopped short of saying that she’s being treated unfairly by the companies that have dropped her, but added she wouldn’t have made the same decision.
“Would I have fired me? Knowing me? No,” said Deen.
During the interview, Deen didn’t clarify whether she has used the N-word since, Brown reported. Deen testified that if she had, it had been “a long time.” During the interview, she said she didn’t lie under oath, but said point blank she’s never used the word except for that one occasion.
Hours after Wednesday’s interview, Walmart announced it, too, was dropping Deen.
Walmart spokesperson Danit Marquardt issued the following statement: “We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed. We will work with suppliers to address existing inventories and agreements.”
Home Depot also said it will discontinue Deen-branded items on its Web site.
“We don’t have any partnerships or sponsorships with Paula Deen properties, but Paula Deen branded items have been available under our kitchen and cookware category on HomeDepot.com, and we’re discontinuing this line,” said company spokesman Stephen Holmes.
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