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Paula Deen and the Media Circus

by John on 06/27/2013

This is my show tonight on The Tavis Smiley Network on Blog Talk Radio.

Here is the link to the show.

Here are the links to the books: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodward and Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell.

And this is my column on racism and the President.

Here is the script to the show if you prefer to read rather than listen.

Hi, everyone.

We’ll give you the Informed Not Inflamed take on the Paula Deen saga.

Coming to you — from Sunset Beach, North Carolina today.

It is Thursday June 27, 2013.

A programming note: Thursdays at 7 pm Eastern will be my usual time on the Tavis Smiley Network – here on Blog Talk Radio.  I will do most of the shows live.

This one, however, is taped.  There is no guest.  So you must endure me.

Of course, you can listen to the shows — at any time — by going to my page on Blog Talk Radio.

I am going to mention a couple of books here too.  You can go to my blog on Informed Not Inflamed to get the links to those books and a recent column I wrote – for more information.

Speaking about enduring — we all had to endure another celebrity outing for bad behavior.

This time it’s Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cuisine.

A black employee is suing Deen and her “family business” for 1-point-2 million dollars for sexual harassment and being subjected to racial slurs — like being called the N-word.

Here’s where the media fireworks happened.

In a deposition for that lawsuit, Deen admits that she used the N-word.

Once that taped deposition and the transcripts were seen by members of the media, all hell broke loose.  The internet was abuzz with comments – mostly criticizing Deen.

That led to Deen losing some major endorsements — and her show on the Food Network.

To stem the tide, Deen hit the airwaves for the “all too usual” “come to Jesus” tearful interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show.  At the same time, Deen’s sons went on CNN — to do the same.

Deen says she is not a racist.  And she and her sons seem to think that Lisa Jackson, the former employee who brought the suit, is trying to get a piece of the family fortune.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to what I define as the Entertainment Bias of the news media.

This is pure soap opera.  It does nothing but un-inform and inflame.

Frankly, I try to ignore this melodrama. You should too.

Here’s what’s going to happen.

Deen will be brushed aside for a few weeks.  Then she will find someone – maybe Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton – who will intervene to help her get over her racist ways.  Then in a few months, a network will sign this newly rehabilitated celebrity so she can recoup what she lost and make even more.

And everyone will be happy with the redemption – and lessons — that the media has delivered to us.

We’ve seen this before. Martha Stewart, Anthony Weiner, Marv Albert.  It goes on and on.

Don’t you get tired of this crap?  I do.

Let’s break down this silliness.

I am not going to judge Paula Deen.  Is she a horrible person?  I don’t know.  Some people think I’m a buffoon.  Others think I’m a saint.  I am neither — but I fall somewhere in the middle.  I am sure she does too.

At the same time too, I am not going to judge those people who are offended by her comments.  I think many of them are sincere and hope for a society where we do see the content of our character and not the color of one’s skin.  But some of them — may just want to take someone down who is popular in the media.

The big problem Paula Deen has — is being in the media spotlight.  I am sure some of the embarrassing episodes on videotape — she is trying to keep private — is a result of trying to be entertaining for a TV audience.  If you’re boring, you’re out – when it comes to TV.  The thing Paula Deen failed to realize is that comedy is a tool that should only be used by professional comedians.

Here’s a tip if you’re going on-camera.  The safest humor is self-deprectating humor.  Make fun of yourself.  It’s much safer – and less costly. 3:52

Next, we’re all racists.  That n-word or snarky comments about Jews or Hispanics are on the tip of our tongues or at least in the back of our minds — most of the time – no matter what color, race, or religion we are.  The trick is to admit that you’re a racist but you’re working at — trying not to offend anyone — with your racism.

That doesn’t happen in our politics today, though.  I just did a recent column on Informed Not Inflamed on racism and the president.  I hear way too many comments from people who don’t like Obama.  In the midst of criticizing his policies I usually hear something like – he can take his Obamacare and shove it up his black ass.  That’s a closing statement to bring us all together.

In truth, most people who are outwardly racist are frightened.  They’re afraid of the change and the ever-blending melting pot here in the U-S.  This is not your grandpa’s America.

But there is also some prejudice against Southerners too.  When we hear that drawl – like Paul Deen’s — many of us think that person is probably not a big fan of our first black President.  You can’t help it.  Why?  Because that culture — still exist in the south.  It’s part of the heritage after the Civil War.  I am not saying all Southerners are racists.  I have Southern friends who are social liberals.  But many Southerners are.  And I have heard the racist comments – consciously and un-consciously – from Southerners who believe they’re not racists at all.

Let me recommend a great book on this.  It’s called American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.  It’s written by Colin Woodward.  And he breaks down the different regions in America and he names them and shows how different they are.  It is a fascinating read.

I have seen his findings for myself.  I have been blessed to have lived in some of these regions – the northeast, the south, the mountain west, and Hollywood — and I see the differences within our country.  Even though, we’re all Americans we’re also locals — influenced by nearby politics, culture, and history.

A quick story about my education on racism when I first moved to the south.  I was a TV news reporter in New Bern, North Carolina.  This was in 1984.  I had just moved from a newspaper job in Connecticut.  So, think about it. I am a Yankee liberal reporter walking into the South.  I had tea with one of New Bern’s grand dames – a lovely woman who greeted and offered a genuine welcome to newcomers like me.

She explained about the different forms of racism.  She admitted her family had hired “black help” in the form of maids.  But she said — that maid stayed with her family – and was a member of the family — until the maid was aged or even until the maid’s death.  But she also pointed out to me that northerners – like myself – who claim to be non-racist — would quickly move out of a neighborhood as soon as a black family moved in.  I wouldn’t — but her point was well-taken.

We keep hearing that whites are becoming a minority in America.  And it’s true.  The Millenials know this already.  And many of us older white-folk have a hard time accepting this change.  6:51

I learned this while working out.  I took a work-out training session with a former heavyweight boxer.  When I showed up in shorts and a sleeveless workout shirt, he looked me up and down and said to me jokingly, “You have some black blood in you.”

And I think he’s right.

I am black Irish.  Don’t laugh.  Let me explain.  When you look at history, the black Irish – with dark hair like Ronald Reagan and me – only got into the Irish gene pool after the Spanish Armada sank off the coast of Ireland in 1588.  Some surmise that some Spanish sailors swam to shore then mated with the fine Irish lasses of milky skin and strawberry blond hair.  But many of those Spaniards were also Moors — with African blood.  Thus the connection and possibly the further meaning of “black Irish”.

Is this biologically accurate?  Who knows.

But thematically, we’re all part of swarming large gene pool.  And yet we find ways to separate ourselves.

And we do it with language – when we use or can’t use the N-word.  So I say, we need a national conversation on the use of the N-word.  I don’t use it because I think it is vulgar.  But I have black friends who use the N-word a lot.  Most of the time it’s in funny moments.  I was at a celebrity event and one black friend yelled to a black buddy from across a crowded room, “Hey N-word, get over here.”  It was funny but uncomfortable.  Why?  Because I know I couldn’t use the N-word in the same funny way – because I am white.  That confuses many of us.

So, let’s get some ground rules on “N-word etiquette” — before they haul me off in the Paddy Wagon – which ironically used to be derogatory to the Irish.

That brings me to another book.  It’s called Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell.  Sowell is a conservative libertarian economist with many academic credentials.  He is also African American and he has been a harsh critic of this Administration.  I urge you to read him since he gives such a different outlook on American culture.  In this book – Black Rednecks and White Liberals — which was written in 2005, Sowell says the black ghetto culture of today – characterized rightly or wrongly as lazy, drunken-womanizing – actually comes from the Scots-Irish immigrants of the 19th Century.  My people!

Is it true?  Maybe when I was 19.  But who knows.  It is an interesting theory to keep in mind.  Again, like my black Irish theory, we’re all connected.

Next, let’s look at the companies that are dropping Paula Deen like a bucket of lard.  Here’s the reality.  They’re only worried about revenues.  And I don’t have a problem with that.  Let’s stop putting moral parameters on companies.  These are organizations designed to make money.  These companies – yes – are made up of many people.  But companies are not a single person.  So, as the head of a company, you don’t want any message out there – that you can’t control – to hurt your bottom line.  Dumping Paula Deen makes economic sense if your customers are going to boycott your product.  It’s capitalism.  And those against Paula Deen have every right to use that weapon.  And those companies have every right to protect themselves.

But here’s what’s really lost in this Paula Deen Soap Opera.  Why wasn’t this lawsuit settled?  Why did this deposition even get out?  Think about it.  Paula Deen is either guilty of having lousy lawyers or she has failed to listen to good legal advice.  Maybe it’s hubris or she thinks she is above it all – because she has been successful on TV?  I don’t know.  But one thing is certain, someone in the Paula Deen circle made a huge miscalculation.

Sure, Lisa Jackson – and her lawyers — might have gone nuclear here.  But if you think about it – this didn’t need to happen — if someone was really carefully watching the brand that is Paula Deen.

So my advice to all of you who want to stay informed and not inflamed, stay out of this drama.  It’s just another media-created melodrama like the Sound and the Fury signifying nothing.

That’s informed not Inflamed for today, y’all.

Thanks for listening.

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