Well. After bailing on Matt Lauer at the last minute last week, Paula Deen finally showed up at the Today show studios and sat down for a fairly brutal-to-watch 13-minute interview, during which she became extremely emotional and cried.
Matt started out with business-related questions: "Are you here to stop the financial bleeding?" and "Given the circumstances would you have fired you?"
Paula: "Would I have fired me? No."
Another key question:
Matt: Are you a racist?
Paula: No, I am not.
Be sure and check out the moment that she touches Matt Lauer's leg (around 5:37) and he remains perfectly still, like a bug has landed on him.
But the most interesting part of the interview dealt with Paula's alleged use of the N-word. She denied that she used it except for that one time when she was robbed at gun point. But. Paula Deen basically turned around, and, when it comes to the N-word, put the onus on black people. Matt asked, "Do you have any doubt in your mind that African-Americans are offended by the N-word?" Paula replied:
I don't know, Matt. I have asked myself that so many times, because it's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling each other. It's very very distressing.
Is this for real? This is such a bullshit argument. As a sixty-six year old woman she has to be fully aware of the power of the N-word, and also know that context is everything. What "young people" say to each other has nothing to do with the language she uses as a white woman in a powerful position as businesswoman and employer. But she continued to lay blame elsewhere:
For this problem to be worked on, these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other and stop throwing that word at each other. It makes my skin crawl.
It makes my skin crawl when people think all-black servers at a plantation-style wedding sounds like an elegant idea. But that's just me. Seriously, though. What the "young people" are saying is not the issue here. She's being sued by someone who worked for her, and the allegations are being directed at her and her brother Bubba — not some wayward youths.
Toward the end of the interview, Paula became more and more upset, and began to cry as she said:
I have apologized and I would never, never — with any intention hurt anybody on purpose. And I never would.
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. Please. I want to meet you. I is who I is and I'm not changing.
There's someone evil out there that saw what I worked for and they wanted it.
The whole thing ended with a general feeling was that she wasn't as sorry about what she said as she was sorry that she was being forced to deal with it.
Pro Tip: "I is who I is and I'm not changing" is a terrible soundbite when you've been accused of being racist.