Ever since she was a no-show on TODAY last Friday I’ve been eagerly awaiting Paula Deen’s interview with Matt Lauer that was rescheduled for this morning. First of all, what was she thinking not honoring her commitment to be on the program last week, immediately following revelations that she has used racial slurs? Instead of going on live TV with an apology, Paula Deen explained that she was “exhausted and disturbed,” an excuse that is weak at best given the situation. Where was her PR counsel last week? If they were there, did they do all they could to get her to make the interview? Did she reject their counsel? Or was it that they weren’t there (seems highly unlikely), and if so why not?
Blame game pity party
Regardless, we fast forward to today and the interview that seemed more like a blame game pity party than an actual apology. As the experts have already said, the rambling 13-minute long segment was “bizarre.” Given her celebrity status Deen had the opportunity to do what most of us would never – go on national television and make things right. Take responsibility. Own up to her mistakes. Set a clear standard and precedent for the future. Come across as trustworthy, remorseful and understanding. Instead, she appeared on the defensive, commenting on how those who know her can’t believe how she’s being treated and what’s being said about her. She went on a long rant about hearing “kids” in kitchens talk in a way that is just “distressing.” When Lauer asked if she had engaged in similar dialogue she said absolutely not. Maybe she’s telling the truth. For some reason she didn’t come across as fully believable.
As a communications advisor I would be most nervous about her statement that she only used the most offensive racial slur one time while being robbed. In today’s digital age so much is caught on tape – not to mention she’s a TV personality who is constantly around cameras and microphones that are on. If additional instances of her using racial slurs come to light, she is not only a racist but a liar. And that’s not an easy mess to clean up.
And finally, I would have to believe that she was working from a set of talking points for today’s interview, and I can’t imagine that throwing in a slang phrase as her parting words was in the recommended messaging. “I is what I is, and I’m not changing.” Hmm…no, Paula, I’m sure you’re not.