MSNBC Analyst Calls For Paula Deen to Apologize ‘Until Media Is Tired of Asking Her’

Celebrity chef Paula Deen has been aggressively attacked over the past week for a racial slur that she uttered 30 years ago. Countless media outlets have condemned her, and corporate sponsors have dropped her like a crate of anvils – to the tune of $12.5 million. As her empire has crumbled around her, Deen has apologized multiple times, but that’s still not enough for everyone in the media.

On Sunday’s Weekends with Alex Witt, fill-in host Betty Nguyen brought on entertainment editor Chris Witherspoon of TheGrio.com to discuss the Deen controversy. Nguyen read a statement from Jimmy Carter in which the former president asserted that Deen has already been punished, perhaps overly severely. But Carter’s call for forgiveness did not fully resonate with Witherspoon. When asked for reaction to Carter’s words, he replied:

 

“I do agree with what he’s saying, but I think that she hasn’t apologized enough. If I was in her camp, the one thing that I would do different than what she’s done is go on a media blitz and do every single show that wants to have her come on –“  

Nguyen, for her part, played devil’s advocate: “Well, she put out two apologies, one on the Internet and then she decided to do that again and then did the interview on the Today show. You don’t think that’s enough?”

It’s not enough, apparently, for Witherspoon. He would rather see Deen grovel:
 

“I think that she needs to talk about this, talk about this saga, this horrible thing that’s happened to her... and say it over and over and over again until journalists, ‘til the media is tired of asking her about that and wants to focus on what we know Paula Deen for, which is cooking.”  
 

That sounds rather excessive. If Deen apologizes until journalists grow tired of this story, how many apologies and how much time will that take? In fact, it seems likely that Deen would keep the story alive longer by continuing to talk publicly about it. If she stays out of the spotlight, the media will eventually forget about her and move on. So it may actually be counterproductive to apologize relentlessly.  

It certainly was wrong for Deen to use the N-word, but it happened a long time ago and she has apologized for it. All of us have said stupid and/or offensive things, including Alec Baldwin. But Baldwin, as a liberal, failed to generate a huge media backlash with his anti-gay Twitter rant, as NewsBusters reported.

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

BETTY NGUYEN: And in a recent interview, former President Carter, who’s known Deen for many years, said this about her. He said, “I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She apologized profusely.” So what is your reaction to that, former President Carter coming to her defense?

CHRIS WITHERSPOON: I do agree with what he’s saying, but I think that she hasn’t apologized enough. If I was in her camp, the one thing that I would do different than what she’s done is go on a media blitz and do every single show that wants to have her come on –

NGUYEN: Really? You don't think she’s talking too much and that all these interviews have hurt her?

WITHERSPOON: She’s only talked in one big interview with Matt Lauer

NGUYEN: Well, she put out two apologies, one on the Internet and then she decided to do that again and then did the interview on the Today show. You don’t think that’s enough?

WITHERSPOON: I don't think it's enough. I think that she needs to talk about this, talk about this saga, this horrible thing that’s happened to her that’s she’s – what she said, and say it over and over and over again until journalists, ‘til the media is tired of asking her about that and wants to focus on what we know Paula Deen for, which is cooking.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.