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Paula Deen used n-word just one time? Assertion may come back to bite her

June 26, 2013|By Rene Lynch

Paula Deen left absolutely no wiggle room when she told "Today" show host Matt Lauer that she has used the n-word in precisely one incident -- and it was 30 years ago.

Those words could come back to haunt her.

"She put a price on her own head," said New York City-based crisis management consultant Mike Paul. He said he would have never advised Deen to say such a thing because it practically taunts people from Deen's past to step forward to say they heard Deen use a racial slur of any sort.

PHOTOS: The Paula Deen scandal

It will be "extremely damaging" to the point of "losing endorsements left and right" if more evidence bubbles up -- especially if it can be corroborated by texts, emails, recordings or multiple witnesses, Paul said.

He said he would have advised Deen to give an authentic, contrite apology and leave it at that. 

But the way Deen tells it, the truth is on her side.

PHOTOS: The Paula Deen scandal

Deen has said there has been a rush to judgment after jealous, "evil" forces launched a smear campaign against her depicting her as someone who casually employs the n-word.

And Deen denies that.

She said during her teary-eyed "Today" show appearance that statements she made as part of a legal deposition have been misunderstood. During the legal proceedings, she was asked whether she'd ever used the N-word. "Yes," she is quoted as saying, "Of course. It's been a very long time."

Those quotes contributed to a public uproar last week, a week that ended with the Food Network saying it would not renew Deen's contract. The Queen of Southern Cooking suggested on Wednesday that those select quotes, while true, don't tell the full story.

Mainly, that the comments were made 30 years ago following a traumatic incident in which an African American man held Deen at gunpoint inside a bank where she was working as a teller. She said she believed she used the n-word when telling her husband about the incident. (It would later turn out that Deen knew the gunman and had helped him secure a bank loan.)

"They asked me in all my 66 years have I ever used it," Deen told Lauer, adding that she answered the question in the deposition truthfully.

Lauer responded: "You have never used the n-word other than that?"

"I have never. Never," Deen said in addressing the allegations, adding: "It's just not a part of who we are."

Comments she made on the "Today" show may already put her in conflict with other allegations made in connection with the court case. It is alleged that she said she wanted to hire several African American men to staff a plantation-themed wedding she was planning for her brother in 2007. The idea was nixed for fear that it would be misinterpreted, according to the court documents.

She was asked in the deposition whether she used the n-word to describe the men -- a suggestion, perhaps, that there is a witness who will say as much. Deen denied using the word.

What did you think about Deen's appearance on the "Today" show? Will it help or hurt her reputation?

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