One year after Paula Deen's emotional meltdown on Today — in which she insisted she wasn't racist and claimed she didn't know the N-word was offensive — the chef returned to the morning show Tuesday in an attempt to revive her career.
After a former employee filed suit in May 2013 against Deen, claiming sexual harassment and racial discrimination, Deen admitted under oath to using racial slurs and wanting black waiters to play the role of slaves at a party. Deen was soon fired by the Food Network, and her partnerships with QVC, Target and Walmart, among others, were terminated.
During her appearance Tuesday on Today, Deen said she couldn't stand to watch the footage recapping the scandal. "I looked at none of it, Matt, because I didn't recognize that woman," Deen told Matt Lauer. "That was a woman in trauma, in, I would say shock, trying to understand what had happened. The cold, hard fact, Matt, is I probably should not have been here. I probably should have been at home, maybe even under the care of a doctor."
Eventually, the racial discrimination aspect of the lawsuit against Deen was dropped because the judge decided that since the woman who filed was white, she had no legal standing. Deen admitted that the lack of attention the dismissal got was frustrating to her after the close scrutiny of her actions. "The statement that was released at the end got almost no attention," Deen complained. "The statement was very powerful and very different."
Deen is now in the process of launching her own digital network, for which she recently bought all of her content from the Food Network. In addition to her old footage, the Paula Deen Network will also feature dozens of new shows, as well as provide a means for Deen to try and rewrite history.
"We are working on a documentary because I feel like everybody needs to know the entire story. We're doing a documentary that will be on the Paula Deen Network," Deen said. The chef also revealed plans for a proposed book about the scandal.
However, when Deen isn't finding ways to capitalize on the racism allegations, she apparently does a lot of soul-searching. "I learned so much when I sat quietly with my own thoughts. The most powerful thing — and I thought I knew it, because I've talked about it before — is the power of words," Deen said. "I don't care how old they are. Words are so powerful. They can hurt. They can make people happy. Well, my words hurt people. They disappointed people. And frankly, I disappointed myself. And for that, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for the hurt that I've caused people. Because it went deep. It went deep. People lost their jobs. It went deep into corporate America. I'm here to make people happy, not to bring sadness."