Paula Deen is “trending” in ways you never want to.
On Tuesday, following last week’s apology flops, 15-Second’s Bill Harlow appeared on Fox Business News’s Varney & Company to discuss whether the Southern chef’s goose was cooked.
Then on Wednesday she showed up on The Today Show to give herself a tearful defense. Memorably declaring “I is who I is.”
As her less-than-successful appearance was taking place, rumors started circulating that Dean was about to hire crisis PR expert Judy Smith, the inspiration for the character played by Kerry Washington on ABC’s “Scandal” to help clean up the mess in the Dean kitchen. The call might have come too late.
Paula Deen cooked up a series of video apologies which collapsed like a bad Soufflé.What did she do wrong? Besides everything? In case you missed it, the TV cooking show host has been taking a lot of heat for speaking like of nice Southern lady –of the 1860’s. She is being sued by some ex-employees who apparently are not fans of Deen’s management or personal style. Comments Deen made during depositions for the lawsuit seem to indicate there was more than a little smoke to the fire in her kitchen admitting to past use of the “N word” etc. With the situation spiraling out of control, Deen was booked to explain herself on the Today Show yesterday — a program on which she regularly appears. But she failed to show up, causing host Matt Lauer to blow his lid.
A short while later Deen’s team released a very brief 45 second video full of deep fried apologies. Despite its short length, the video contained a number of abrupt and amateurish video edits – suggesting that Paula couldn’t whip together four or five heartfelt sentences in a row without stopping to check the recipe. If you are going to make a statement to the camera (which we don’t recommend) – Deen, an accomplished TV performer, would have been better off using a teleprompter carrying her own heartfelt words. That way she might have gotten through her statement, without edits — the first time. Recognizing that the first tape was unpalatable, Deen’s aides quickly pulled it down only to post another slightly longer, slightly less awkward tape — to be followed by a third tape which apologized directly to Matt Lauer. None of this was good enough — sometime around the time the second or third videos were making their debuts the Food Network announced that they were canning her and would not be renewing Deen’s contract. What should she have done? She had the ingredients for redemption before her and she blew it. When you are under fire as much as she was — a short, self-produced video is not going to hack it. She should have sucked it up and gone on the Today Show and answered Lauer’s questions. He wasn’t going to sugar coat it — but she was well-known to him and his audience — and it was her best chance to (a) admit major mistakes (b) ask for forgiveness and (c) announce some steps to atone for her mistakes (for example — making a major donation to suitable charities, doing to work — off camera for several months in a soup kitchen etc). Her goose isn’t entirely cooked. America is a forgiving country (See: Anthony Weiner, Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton et al) But Friday’s badly handled series of apologies are not a recipe for success. .