After the ex-Food Network personality and celebrity chef Paula Deen fell from Southern grace over allegations of racism last week, Deen's sons, Bobby and Jamie, have spoken out in defense of their mother.
In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Bobby Deen said, ""Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you'd ever meet."
Deen's admission of having used the n-word went at a deposition for a lawsuit filed last year went viral last week, but Bobby Deen dismissed the case as "extortion." "I'm disgusted by the entire thing, he said, "because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination."
It's "ridiculous, completely absurd to think there is an environment of racism in our business, and it's really disrespectful to the people that we work with. We have strong, educated men and women of character that have been with us for five, 10, 15, 20 years. To think they would allow themselves to be in this position is simply baloney. It's ridiculous," said Jamie Deen.
But the damage has been done: Deen's well-documented racism has made headlines (and punchlines), and her food empire is in jeopardy. Deen has already lost her show with The Food Network, and on Monday was cut from a major endorsement deal with ham producer Smithfield Food. Smithfield Food spokeswoman Keira Lombardo said in a statement, “Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind." The company "is determined to be an ethical food industry leader and it is important that our values and those of our spokespeople are properly aligned."
It's possible that Deen's other deals with businesses, including QVC and Walmart, may follow suit as well.