The folksy Southern cooking queen tearfully took to NBC's "Today" show Wednesday for the first time to talk about the racism scandal that has rocked her cooking empire. She said she is “somewhat in a state of shock” over what were “hurtful lies said about me.”
Asked by host Matt Lauer whether she was a racist, Deen said, "No, I'm not."
“If there’s anyone out there that has never said something that they wished 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,” Deen said near the end of her interview. "Please, I want to meet you. I want to meet you. I is what I is and I'm not changing."
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Paula Deen's Second Apology
In a 46-second video posted on YouTube, Paula Deen offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In this second video, Deen apologized for failing to show up for a scheduled interview on "Today" Friday to discuss her admission that she's used racial slurs in the past.
Embattled Food Network star Paula Deen released a video statement addressing her past use of racial slurs, which overnight became a national scandal. In the clip, Deen appears visibly upset and at times close to tears. "I beg for your forgiveness.... please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made," she said.
Deen, 66, was originally slated to appear on “Today” last Friday amid the height of the N-word controversy sparked by a deposition in a court case, but canceled last minute.
She posted two online video apologies hours later begging for forgiveness from her fans for having used racial slurs. In one of the YouTube videos, Deen apologized to Lauer for having been “physically unable” to make the “Today” interview.
Deen has been under fire since a former manager of a Savannah, Ga., restaurant owned by Deen and her brother filed a $1.2 million lawsuit against the pair. The employee, Lisa Jackson, claimed she was sexually harassed by Bubba Hiers and that Deen used the N-word around her.
"Yes, of course," Deen said in the May 17 deposition of having used the slur, adding, "It's been a very long time."
But she told Lauer Wednesday that she had only used the N-word once in 1986 in reference to a black man who held a gun to her head.
“I know my love for people, and I’m not going to sit here and tell everything I’ve done for people of color,” Deen said, adding that "somebody else can tell that."
Deen did not regret telling the truth in her court deposition and the only people she's prejudiced against are thieves and liars, she said.
Asked about her comments in court that she can't determine what offends another person, Deen brought up what she hears in the kitchens of her restaurants.
"It’s very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and I hear what these young people are calling themselves," Deen said. "It’s very distressing for me because I think that for this problem to be worked on that these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other and not showing this word at each other."
Deen said she counted Rev. Jesse Jackson among her supporters and to "never underestimate the power of those voices because these people who have met me and know me and love me, they’re as angry as the people are that are reading these stories that are lies."
Deen is the author of 14 cookbooks that have sold more than eight million copies. Her media empire also includes the bimonthly magazine "Cooking with Paula Deen" with circulation of nearly one million, according to her website.