Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Paula Deen/Food Network Debacle

I don't typically comment on the real hot topics of the day... not because I don't care, or don't have an opinion, but because there are so many other sources of information and opinion out there that I choose to not add my thoughts to the already-huge pile. But this time, I'm going to.

I want to start by being upfront about a few things.
First, I am a BIG Food Network fan.  Food Network  (originally TV Food Network) was launched nearly 20 years ago, and I would guess I've been watching it almost since its inception.
Second, I am NOT a Paula Deen fan.  I find her southern accent to be annoying (really, is it real?), but more importantly, I don't care for her style of cooking.  No, I don't make most of the recipes I see -- although I have been known to peruse the Food Network website when looking for something new... but I generally watch programs that tend to be more like the cooking I do, and the foods I eat.

Now, having said that...  I am OUTRAGED at Food Network refusing to renew Paula Deen's contract, based on recent incidents.

For those who have been hiding under rocks  (and I'm not saying that's a bad thing) or are outside of the U.S.  (I suspect that this fiasco has not been deemed important enough to catch the attention of the rest of the world)...  let me summarize things for you.......
In the United States - as well as elsewhere - there are derogatory words that are used to describe people, typically according to race, or religion, or nationality, or gender.  Paula Deen is one of the Food Network personalities...  she has her own show, she cooks, she writes books, she has restaurants,  she endorses cooking-types of things... you get the picture.   As part of some recent litigation, Paula Deen  admitted that she used one of these derogatory words, once, many years ago. She allowed for the possibility that she may have used it another time or so since, but she was unable to come up with a specific time or place.  More importantly, (and this is really important)


I want to let that sink in for a moment.  

I'm not giving this woman brownie points for admitting she did something she shouldn't have done, and I'm not going to discuss whether her stated reason was valid, and I'm not even going to suggest that you should believe her story that she didn't do it again.  What I am suggesting is that -- if there was ANYONE out there who could credibly assert that this was a frequent and or/recent action on Paula Deen's part... do you really think they would not have come forward?

So.  Paula used a derogatory word ---- long before she was ever on the Food Network, and even before the Food Network existed.  She wasn't even a public personality at the time.  She denies using the word currently, or even recently, and no one is accusing her of doing so.  She denies being a racist, and no one is accusing her otherwise... forget about proof, no one is even ACCUSING her of otherwise.  And Food Network announces it will not renew her contract, because of this.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm sure the contract has some morality clause in it.. and it should... but we're not talking about her using the word on the air, or even using the word while in public, or even using the word during her employment with Food Network.  Many, many years ago.

Food Network ---  you've screwed up.  In my opinion, you've REALLY screwed up.  I suspect Ms. Deen will not be suing you for unlawful termination of employment --  after all, it sounds as if perhaps her current contract was due to expire shortly, and I'm assuming you have the right to choose to not renew an expired contract.  Perhaps you were planning on terminating her show anyway, and this seemed like a good bandwagon to jump on.  And perhaps in the future, someone might step forward and make a claim of more recent wrongdoing.  But as of now, that hasn't happened.

You screwed up, Food Network.  And those of you - the producers, or board of directors, or whoever - who made this decision should be ashamed of yourselves.  Because this was a really, really bad decision.

I'm so annoyed, I need a cup of tea.  


  1. I haven't followed this closely, but I believe at least one former employee filed a discrimination lawsuit. I think her use of the 'bad word' came up while she was on the stand, but I'm not sure.

    There was also something about planning a wedding on a plantation using all black servers?? So there appears to be a bit more than just using a bad word years ago. She may be guilty of nothing more than blindness and insensitivity, but I don't have enough information to make that call.

    Perhaps the Food Network has info they're not releasing due to confidentiality issues (if someone there had complained, for example).

    1. ... except that, as I said, I'm basing much of my annoyance on the fact that individuals (as opposed to the Food Network) have not come forward. While there may be confidentiality issues, or PR issues, or other issues as to why FN is not disclosing something, the aggrieved individual or other witness could certainly come forward... perhaps not with the details, but certainly as to the existence of a claim. And even if there was some reason why the aggrieved individual/witness wasn't coming forward...there's ALWAYS someone... a relative, friend, co-worker.. someone.. who'd be coming forward, just for the 15 minutes of fame, if nothing else.
      So what strikes me, is that we don't have these people coming out of the woodwork.