Paula Deen finally went on Today this morning to discuss her infamous deposition transcription and the resulting implosion of her empire. Deen bailed on Today last week, which set off an odd chain of events that ended with the Food Network firing her.
And it was bizarre. It started off with predictable talking points: "There have been some very hurtful lies said about me," Deen told Lauer. "I'm not a racist." She also told him had she been in the Food Network's position, she'd still have a job: "Would I have fired me. Knowing me? No." Deen insisted that she had used the N-word once in her life, the incident that was cited in the deposition. Also, this: "If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me."
Highlights and video are below.
On shock: "It's nice to be here. It's hard for me to even find the word, Matt, that I was feeling, I was just overwhelmed, I was in a state of shock...because there has been some very hurtful lies said about me."
On everyone being equal: "Then let me say this, the main reason I am here today Matt is that it's important that I tell you and everyone out there how I believe and how I live my life. I believe that every creature on this world, everyone of God's creatures is created equal, no matter who you go to be with, where you pray, everyone should be created equal."
On experts: "I am here today because I want people to know who I am, and people who have worked beside me walked beside me, know what kind of person I am. I am so distressed that people I have never heard of are experts on who I am."
On whether she'd fire herself: "No. I'm very lucky in this aspect Matt, I'm so fortunate Matt, that so many of my partners that know who I am have decided to stand by me. QVC has not dropped me. I am so thankful for the partners that I have."
On whether Paula Deen is a racist: "No. As a child I was raised in a home, where my father tolerated bad grades, he would tolerate me breaking a curfew, but he said, "Girl, if I ever found out that you've behaved in a way where you're better than others, your butt is going to be...."
On how she could use the N-word: "The day I used that word was a world ago...it was 30 years ago. I had a gun put to my head, because the man that put his gun to my head was a customer..."
On other occasions she may have used the N-word: "No, I have never. They asked me in all my 66 years on earth if I've used. Never. That man put a gun to my head, and I had gone out on a limb for him, and gotten him a loan...."
On whether she was truthful in the deposition: "No, I answered the question truthfully. It's just not a part of who we are."
On whether African-Americans are offended by the N-word: "I don't know Matt, I have asked myself that so many times, because it's very distressing to go into my kitchens and hear what people are calling each other. It's very distressing for me, because I think that for this problem to be worked on, these young people are going to have to take control and start showing respect for each other. It makes my skin crawl."
On whether she wishes she lied during the deposition: "No, because there are a couple of kinds of people that I don't like, that I'm prejudiced against, Matt, and that's thieves and liar."
On her supporters: "I think that we can never underestimate the power of those voice. They're as angry as the people are that are reading these stories that are lies. These people that are reading these lies, they don't know me. And the people that know me are just as angry. I would never, with any intention, hurt anybody on purpose, and I never would."
On whether she's putting on a show for Lauer: "No, no, no, what you see is what you get. I'm not an actress. I'm heartbroken. I've had to hold friends in my arms while they sobbed because they know what's been said about me. And I'm having to comfort them and tell them that we're going to be all right. God will get us through it. I've had wonderful support from Reverend Jackson."
In sum: "If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, 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 what I is and I'm not changing. There's someone evil out there who saw what I had and wanted it."
Video: Paula Deen on Today
· Here's the Racist Paula Deen Deposition Transcript [-E-]
· Food Network Fires Paula Deen [-E-]
· Paula Deen: I would not have fired me [Today]
· All PaulaDeenGate Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Paula Deen Coverage on Eater [-E-]