Ever since Paula Deen admitted to using racial slurs in a deposition filed last week, her butter-soaked empire has been slipping through her fingers. The Food Network elected not to renew the celebrity chef’s contract when it expires at the end of this month; Smithfield Foods is dropping her as a spokesperson; QVC is reviewing its business relationship with her. Somewhere, Anthony Bourdain is smirking and lighting a cigar.
But at least Deen can count on the support of two staunch defenders: her sons Jamie and Bobby, who are Food Network personalities in their own right. Allegations of Deen’s racism are “simply not true,” Bobby told CNN’s Chris Cuomo this morning.
Well, they’re sort of true. “Our mother was under oath, asked in a deposition to pore over her entire life, and to admit whether she had ever heard or used this word,” Bobby continued. “And it broke her heart to have to answer truthfully and say yes that she had.” But, according to Bobby, “That is not her heart. It is certainly not the home that we were raised in.”
He went on to call Paula “one of the most compassionate, goodhearted, empathetic people that you’d ever meet,” adding that he’s “disgusted” by the allegations of racism she’s been facing: “It began as extortion, and it has become character assassination.”
Jamie also chimed in, telling a story about his childhood fascination with Hank Aaron. When he was 7 years old, his mother and father gave him a pair of Hank Aaron pajamas and “told me the story of the challenges that the Hammer faced in his pursuit of this record,” Jamie remembered. “They told me that he’s a man of character…It’s a lesson that I’ve carried throughout my life, of inclusion, and to treat everyone fairly and by their character and by their own merit.”
Catch the full interview below.