QVC has announced it will "pause" its relationship with Paula Deen, marking the latest in a series of brands that have sought to distance themselves from the Southern chef in the wake of an uproar over her alleged use of the N-word. And QVC fans -- at least the ones taking to the company's website -- are furious.
QVC President and CEO Mike George posted an open letter on the company blog to address the many calls, emails, letters and comments received both for and against Deen. The statement says in part:
"We too are troubled by what Paula has acknowledged saying.... We have talked with Paula and her team extensively over the last several days, and together we have considered what is best for our customers, for Paula, and for QVC. For now, we have decided to take a pause. Paula won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months. We all think it’s important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward."
PHOTOS: The Paula Deen scandal
The letter goes on to say: "Some of you may wonder whether this is a “forever” decision – whether we are simply ending our association with Paula. We don’t think that’s how relationships work. People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing."
Also included is a letter from Deen herself to her QVC fans. It says in part: "As you know, I have some important things to work on right now, both personally and professionally. And so we’ve agreed that it’s best for me to step back from QVC and focus on setting things right."
Deen's letter concludes: "I am truly sorry and assure you I will work hard to earn your forgiveness."
PHOTOS: The Paula Deen scandal
The QVC announcement was seemingly inevitable. Pressure had been building on QVC in the form of queries -- many from the media -- as to what the wildly popular TV shopping channel would do about its long-standing relationship with Deen.
Deen is at the center of a contentious civil lawsuit filed by a former employee who accuses Deen of, among other things, throwing the N-word around. Deen denies the allegations and says she is being targeted by a malicious smear campaign. But, she admitted in court papers that she has used the word -- but only in regards to one incident, 30 years ago, after she was held up at gunpoint by a black man who robbed a bank where Deen was working at the time.
Since that admission was revealed by court documents last week, Deen has been the subject of countless headlines and dogged by questions about whether this really was an isolated incident, or whether she secretly harbors racist tendencies, something she insists is not true.
Despite the controversy, Deen has no shortage of fans and followers rushing to her aide. Sales have driven her new cookbook -- which won't be released until October -- to the No. 1 spot on Amazon's bestseller list. And there are no shortage of tweets and comments in support of Deen, and vowing to boycott Food Network for turning its back on one of its most popular and beloved celebrities.
Now, QVC is feeling that heat. Here's a sampling of comments left on the QVC blog posting, nearly all of them angry at the decision to part ways -- however temporarily -- with Deen:
--"Food Network and Smithfield Hams have lost a customer. Now, so has QVC. Bad call."
--"I can not tell you how ashamed and sad I am that QVC would make this decision."
--"I think this is such a poor judgement call on your part. Could you honestly say that all the vendors for QVC have spotless records. I mean seriously, where does this madness STOP!"
--"It is sad that the PC police have gotten as far as they have in our lives. One day, it may be me, you, anybody that says something and somebody is having a bad day ... so our lives would be ruined. Who are we to not forgive someone, when we have been forgiven for ALL our mistakes."