Whether that signals the end of the Paula Deen brand is still open to debate.
“Anything involving race, children, or animals is almost impossible to recover from,” says David E. Johnson, Chief Executive of Strategic Vision, LLC, a public relations and branding agency.
The Food Network was well within its right to let her contract expire next month, effectively firing her. But don’t think it was acting out of altruism.
The Food Network only took action when it realized it faced its own legal exposure for sexual and racial harassment. That came when a lawsuit revealed the existence of “obscene and vulgar video outtakes” apparently from her Food Network shows.
The $1.2 million sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by Lisa Jackson against Deen’s brother Earl ‘Bubba’ Heirs.
She alleges she was routinely exposed to racist slurs and sexual harassment while managing Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Ga.
The outtakes are like a loaded gun pointed at the network’s pocketbook. The fastest way to cut its legal liability is to take swift and decisive action against Deen, which is just what it did.
Johnson says that Deen’s brand is crumbling about her. “This looks like three strikes, and she is now out,” he says.
Most of her critics would probably ask why it took so long.
The Food Network had to know about Deen’s vile character, but like so many celebrities, from Justin Bieber to Lindsay Lohan, she continually got a free pass on bad behavior.
As long as she was money in the bank for the cable channel–and she was–Deen could say and do what she wanted. Her behavior was dismissed. She was portrayed as a feisty Southern granny full of vinegar and sass. How cute.
But don’t blame Deen’s racism on the 66-year-old’s age. Racism existed back then and it exists now. But Paula Deen’s generation also launched the Civil Rights movement. Blame it on her own arrogance.
There may have been a time in Paula Deen’s world where racist and sexist jokes in the workplace were laughed off, and whites freely used the n-word in everyday conversation. But Deen wasn’t living in a shell. She had to know her world had long past and such behavior, especially in the workplace, is illegal.
She simply thought the rules didn’t apply to her.
Check out her apology below and let us know your thoughts, and follow TheImproper on Twitter for all the latest celebrity updates.