Paula Deen's sons Jamie and Bobby Deen are speaking up for their mama -- denying accusations that she's a racist. In the wake of her racial slur scandal, the Southern-fried chef, 66, has been dropped by Food Network and sponsor Smithfield Foods -- with QVC and Walmart also reassessing their relationship with the TV personality. But in a new interview with CNN, Jamie and Bobby, who play key roles in the their mother's restaurant business empire and are TV chefs themselves, say their famous mom is victim of "character assassination."
"Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted toward any other person for any reason," Bobby Deen told CNN's Chris Cuomo on New Day June 25. Added the 43-year-old host of Cooking Channel series Not My Mama's Meals: "Our mother is one of the most compassionate, good-hearted, empathetic people that you'd ever meet . . . These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it's very sad."
Paula's troubles began when a transcript from a mid-May deposition was released last week, in which she admitted to using the N-word in the past. Subsequent statements and frantic video apologies didn't seem to quell the controversy, and Food Network announced late Friday it would not be renewing her contract.
The Georgia native and her brother, Bubba Hiers, are defendants in a lawsuit filed by former restaurant manager Lisa T. Jackson, who alleged that both Paula and her brother made derogatory comments about African-Americans, among other claims. Jamie Deen countered to CNN that it's "ridiculous, completely absurd to think there is an environment of racism in our business, and it's really disrespectful to the people that we work with."
Continued the 45-year-old host of Food Network's Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen: "We have strong, educated men and women of character that have been with us for five, 10, 15, 20 years. To think they would allow themselves to be in this position is simply baloney. It's ridiculous."
As for his mother's admitted past use of the N-word, Bobby clarified to CNN: "That word, that horrifying, terrible word that exists and I abhor it coming from any person -- ... we weren't raised in a home where that word was used."