Paula Deen On ‘Today’ Tearfully Begs Sponsors Not To Dump Her: “I Would Not Have Fired Me” And “I Am Not A Racist”

BREAKING… UPDATED (with video): TV’s Southern cooking queen Paula Deen confessed she was “heartbroken” when she sat down with Matt Lauer on Today this morning.

This was her much delayed but much ballyhooed live interview to salvage her business empire in the wake of her admission she had used “the N-word” in her 66 years and The Food Network’s controversial decision not to renew her contract. “I’m here because I want people to know who I am,” Deen said, choking up. Lauer responded, “Millions of dollars are at stake for today’s interview. Are you here to say what you just said, or to stop the financial bleeding?” Deen replied, “I’m here because I want people to know who I am,” Deen choked up. “People I have never heard of are all of a sudden experts in who I am. And what hurts most is that their words are being given weight.”

Related: ‘Today’ Gives Paula Deen Failing Grades After Interview

Deen cried at all the right moments. To build drama, the Today cameramen zoomed in on her anguished face throughout the segment, especially at the end when she really got going with the tears. For his part, Lauer is also trying to save his career with big ‘gets’ like Deen, and he followed a stern line of questioning sure to please those calling for Paula to be punished. But her supporters will not be happy with the way he treated her. He didn’t hug her or ooze sympathy; instead he sat back in his chair looking like judge and jury. By way of explanation, he said several times he wanted to keep the dialogue with her confined to business and not make it too personal.

“You’re the head of a brand,” Lauer noted, “Given the same circumstances, would you have fired yourself?” Deen responded, “Would I have fired me? Knowing me? No.” When asked by Lauer whether she was a racist, Deen replied simply, “No.” Then she added, “I believe that … every one of God’s creatures was created equal. I believe that everyone should be treated equal. That’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I live my life.”

Related: Paula Deen Inc At Stake On ‘Today’


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