The public relations practitioner has just been brought on to try to salvage what’s left of the once popular TV chef’s career following her declaration that she’s used the n-word both in conversation and in a comedic matter in a court deposition.
Deen has been fired by the Food Network and has lost several major endorsement deals because of this scandal.
Smith — the inspiration behind the character Olivia Pope played by Kerry Washingtonon the hit ABC series “Scandal — has previously worked on crisis campaigns for Michael Vick, Star Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Kobe Bryantand countless political types.
After originally bailing on an interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show last Friday, the 66-year-old chef appeared the news show Wednesday morning and begged for forgiveness. She declared that she is not a racist and does not believe that she should have been fired by the Food Network.
Matt Lauer & Paula Deen
“I believe that … every one of God’s creatures was created equal. I believe that everyone should be treated equal, that’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I live my life,” emoted the Albany, Georgia-bred cook.
Some of her sponsors are sticking by her and were pleased with her appearance on “Today,” including Tasty Blend Foods.
“Tasty Blend Foods was very pleased with the Paula Deen interview given this morning on the ‘Today’ show. We appreciate her commitment and how she stepped up and apologized to her viewers, fans and the nation,” Tasty Blends said in a statement. “We personally endorse Paula Deen and what she stands for. We are very saddened that she is being judged by her past, everyone has made a mistake sometime in their lives. We look forward to our continued partnership with her.”
Another sponsor, Landies Candies is standing by Deen as well.
“Your interview this morning reaffirms who you really are and what you believe. We count it a privilege to be your friend and business partner and look forward to sweet success in the future,” said Landies Candies President Larry Szrama.
Several prominent African Americans including MSNBC host and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton and “The Chew’s” Carla Hall and Food Network’s Aaron McCargo, Jr. have asked fans not to rush to judgment on Deen. TV mogul Oprah Winfrey, a friend of Deen’s, has not commented on the matter.
I guess only time will tell if Smith can overhaul Deen’s image and help her rebound from her latest public relations disaster.
UPDATED: According to the Associated Press, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced that it will end its relationship with Deen a week after the Southern celebrity chef admitted using racial slurs in the past.
The world’s largest retailer said it will not place “any new orders beyond what’s already committed.” The discounter said it will work with suppliers on existing inventories.
The Bentonville, Ark., company started carrying Paula Deen-branded products at all of its U.S. namesake stores since 2011.