In her first interview since a controversial deposition surfaced and two of the celebrity chef's employers fired her, Paula Deen wanted to make one thing clear on the Today show Wednesday morning: She only used the n-word a single time, 30 years ago, with a gun put to her head. Thing is, that isn't what she said under oath. After canceling on him at the last minute on Friday, Deen faced a piercing Matt Lauer and put on quite a 15-minute show just before 8 a.m. in New York — stone-throwing, what the "young people" are saying, crying through her most honest moments and all — but the key exchange arrived when she recounted the time she used that word... when she was held up at a bank.
"The day I used that word.... it was 30 years ago," Deen began, in a rambling account of a robbery in which she was held at gunpoint — an episode referenced in the leaked deposition that sent her career into a tailspin and accusations of racism flying across America. But she claimed, on live television, that the bank incident was the only time she employed the n-word, which is when Lauer dug in. It wasn't exactly Frost-Nixon, but he caught her:
Deen: I answered the question truthfully.
Lauer: You have never used the n-word other than that one time.
Deen: It's just not a part of who we are.
Here's a clip from NBC's video of that longer exchange about the word and the deposition and the robbery (though you can watch the full interview below):
Indeed, the one-time-use defense today is not what Deen said according to the deposition, in which she said she was "sure" she had used the n-word other times but that she just couldn't remember when:
And in that same deposition, Deen explains that she uses the word to describe "conversations between blacks":
Clearly, Deen was telling a national audience something different on Wednesday than what she said in legal proceedings. The chef was also asked questions that weren't in the deposition, as Lauer focused on how the controversy had affected her brand: "Would, I have fired me, knowing me? No. I am so fortunate that so many of partners, that know who I am," Deen said. "QVC has not dropped me. Well there's only two that have dropped me."
Deen then meandered, sort of half-blaming "young people" for proliferating the n-word and blaming someone (or some people) for leading to her downfall. "There's someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for and they wanted it," Deen said. And then, in closing, she more or less solicited a stoning:
If there's anyone out there that has never said something that they wised they could take back. If you're out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please. I want to meet you. I is what I is and I'm not changing.
You can watch the full interview here, complete with tears:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.