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An emotionally distraught Paula Deen met with Matt Lauer this morning on the Today Show after abruptly canceling an appearance last Friday. Deen was overwhelmed and in a state of shock last week when she canceled her interview with Lauer at the Today Show. During the interview, Deen explained that she was raised in a humble home where she was taught to respect others.

“The main reason I am here today, Matt is it’s important to me that I tell you and everyone out there what I believe and how I live my life,” she told Lauer. “I believe that every creature on this earth — every one of God’s creatures — was created equal. That’s the way I was raised and that’s the way I live my life.”

Lauer pressed Deen on her sworn admission to using the N-word during her May 17 deposition. Deen defended herself. She said, “It’s just not a part of who we are,” when Lauer asked whether she had any doubt in her mind that the N-word is offensive to African Americans. ”It’s very distressing for me,” she told Lauer, “I think for this problem to be worked on, these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other, and not throw that word at each other. It makes my skin crawl.”

Deen became emotionally distraught during the 13-minute interview, and broke down while she spoke of her young grandson. “I know how I treat people, and I know my love for people,” she insisted. Lauer asked Deen if “given the same circumstances, would you have fired you?” She paused and then responded “No.” He also asked her if she was a racist, which she also said no. “The day I used that word was a world ago — I had a gun put to my head.”

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Deen insisted she’s not racist and that there have been “some very hurtful lies said about me.” She spoke fondly of her supporters. “So many of my partners have chosen to stand by me. I am so very thankful for the partners that I have that believe in me,” she said. “I think we can never underestimate the power of those voices [of supporters],” she told Lauer. “These people who have met me and know me and love me, are as angry as the people that are reading these stories that are lies. These people who are reading these stories who don’t know me, don’t know that these are lies. I have never hurt anybody on purpose and I never would.”

Lauer persisted to ask Deen repeatedly whether she lacked racial tolerance. “There isn’t a side of you that isn’t tolerant?”

To which Deen replied, “What you see is what you get. I’m heartbroken. I’ve had to hold friends in my arms while they sobbed because they know what’s being said about me isn’t true. I’ve cooked for them and told them it’s going to be alright. I’ve had wonderful support from Reverend Jackson – wonderful support from people. If there’s anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me,” she said. “Please. I want to meet you.”

At the end of the interview, Deen makes reference to Lisa Jackson, the former General Manager at Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia from 2005 – 2010, the restaurant in which Paula Deen Enterprises holds a 50% stake with her Deen’s brother, Bubba Hiers. “There’s someone evil out there that saw what I had worked for, and they wanted it.”

According to fans of the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page, Jackson is a three-time divorced, single mother who never finished the 9th grade. She had previously thanked and praised Deen and Hiers in a letter to Deen in 2010, two months prior to abruptly resigning from Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. 

“When I started working for Bubba,” Jackson wrote, “he gave me an opportunity that allowed me, over time, a freedom I have never experienced. He allowed me, for once in my life to take care of myself and for once, have faith in myself as a person and as a woman to know that I could do it on my own; y’all were my Aunt Peggy… I have been given opportunities that I never thought possible, all because of you and Bubba.”

Shortly after abandoning her position as General Manager, she and her attorney sent a letter, demanding payment to stay quiet about claims of sexual harassment.

“… my client has refrained from publicly disussing her claims. Your client (Deen) can still gain substantial value from settlement before we file the Complaint. We are willing to sign a settlement agreement that provides for substantial mutuality of commitment, including a confidentiality provision. Settlement can occur if your clients pay my client (Jackson) $1.25 million dollars.”

During her interview with Lauer, Deen said, “There’s a couple of kinds of people that I don’t like, that I am prejudiced against, Matt – and that’s thieves and liars.”

Food Network and The Smithfield Co., announced last week that they would end their relationships with Deen. Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that it had reached an agreement not to continue a business relationship with Deen’s company, Paula Deen Enterprises. Caesars operates Paula Deen-themed restaurants at four of its properties, which it said it intends to rebrand.

John Schmitt, 49, and his dog, Mark. Schmitt is the founder of the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page that amassed over 400,000 fans since Friday.

John Schmitt, 49, and his dog, Mark. Schmitt is the founder of the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page that amassed over 400,000 fans since Friday.

49-year-old John Schmitt, lead night auditor for a major hotel chain in Indianapolis, and long-time Paula Deen fan told Stitches ‘n Dishes, “I think [Deen] had some great breaks and she’s the same person she was when she was selling sandwiches.”

Schmitt is the founder of the We Support Paula Deen Facebook page which has amassed over 400,000 supporters since Friday, averaging over 100,000 new supporters per day.

“And now i guess i’m doing some planning,” he told Stitches ‘n Dishes. “The last Christmas gift my mother gave to me before she died was a set of Paula Deen cookware. There’s a nostalgia for me. Somebody needs to step up and say something.”

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The Royal Caribbean cruise line is moving full steam ahead with its with the embattled chef in the wake of her racism scandal. Deen’s annual “Paula Deen Cruise” on board the Royal Caribbean’s “Mariner of the Seas” has been flooded with so many booking requests that the cruise is adding an extra departure in 2014.

“Due to so many requests from Paula’s fans in the past we are actually planning two cruises for 2014 and look forward to both,” a rep for the cruise told FOX411′s Pop Tarts column. “It’s always an amazing time with Paula, her family and fans. If she goes – we go.”

And the cruise line is not alone. Deen’s full line up of appearances includes the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show in Houston and Dallas in September, and in Washington, DC in November. She remains a key personality on the website with tickets to see her specifically ranging from $95 to $500.

“Paula Deen has been a friend of The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show for many years. She has apologized and we are taking her apology at her word and moving forward accordingly,” the show’s representative said. “The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show does not condone or believe in the use of derogatory slurs by anyone. This is a nation of forgiveness and second chances. In that spirit we intend to go forward with the MetroCooking Shows in Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC as planned with Paula as a presenter.”

Another company standing by Deen is the Vicroza Brand, who brought Deen onboard last year to hawk their diabetes drug Novo Nordisk.

“We recognize the seriousness of these allegations and will follow legal proceedings closely, staying in contact with her. As a company committed to improving the lives of people with diabetes, Novo Nordisk engaged Deen as a spokesperson because of her commitment to increasing awareness about diabetes to millions of people in this country,” the rep told FOX411.

Orders for “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up” surged on Amazon by nearly 1,300% in the last 24 hours. The cookbook was ranked 115th on Tuesday, compared to a ranking of 1,592nd on Monday

QVC, Wal-Mart, JC Penney, Target, Random House,  Sears, and Hoffman Media, publisher of Deen’s magazine, “Cooking with Paula Deen” have not canceled agreements.

Schmitt feels that Deen has “been somebody to look up to for years.”

“I think what’s motivating this is jealousy and greed. To me, Paula is somebody to look up to. She’s a rag to riches story. The media loves to build somebody up then looks for something to take it away. To be very honest, Lisa Jackson had this idea – I can get get money from Paula Deen. I think it was very well thought out. She tried to extort the money – she had a choice to go through with this. I think she saw a way to take the money and not have to worry about things,” he said during an interview with Stitches ‘n Dishes.

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Schmitt himself hopes to follow in Deen’s footsteps one day, and open a pub of his own. Immediately following Deen’s interview on the Today show this morning, Schmitt called to Paula Deen fans to ban together in a demonstration of solidarity and support.

His announcement begins, “You have been waiting for it… Here it is the plan to show our support for Paula though actions as well as words.”

Beginning on Friday June 28th, Paula Deen supporters will send  a clean empty butter wrapper to Food Network, 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011-7006, Scripps Networks, Po Box 51850, Knoxville, TN 37950, and Gary W. Loveman, CEO & President, Caesars Entertainment Corp., One Caesars Palace Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109. Schmitt’s call to action asks supporters to include with it a note of support for Paula.

Schmitt decided to take action after he recalled similar acts of solidarity in the past. “I remember a few years ago after a show was canceled, people started sending peanuts to a network then I thought everyone should send an empty butter wrapper,” he said.

He asks fans to join in support by following the Facebook and Twitter pages. Supporters are also encouraged to use the #WeWantButter hash tag in their social media posts, and to send in photos of their empty butter wrappers on Facebook and Twitter.

Springer Mountain Farms, which grows 100% natural chickens made this statement on its Facebook page shortly after Deen’s interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show.

“We support Paula Deen. We have worked closely with her for the last two years and know her to be a compassionate, caring person. We have seen her with all types of people and have never seen any sign of prejudice. We truly believe her when she says she is sorry for any hurt feeling she has caused. We are very pleased with the interview Paula Deen gave this morning offering her apologies and reaffirming her personal commitment to equality and fairness for all. As an organization we believe that she and her team are on the right track and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Deen was not available for comments.

Watch the segment below.

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About the Author

Chris Ford is the founder of Stitches 'n Dishes and editor in chief with a passion for food, photography and travel. Chris is a Media Correspondent for the Food Network TV show, Eat St, a syndicated blogger, seasoned event organizer and promoter, a food critic, a marketing consultant and Social Media Marketing expert. Chris is also a fashion and entertainment photographer. When he's not dining on the sidewalk, he's snapping photos on the catwalk.

  • terilg

    Nice (and quick!) post Chris. Loved the interview with John Schmitt, and getting a little more background on Lisa Jackson and the lawsuit

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Teri! John is a great guy with a big heart. It was a great pleasure getting to know him, and I respect what he’s doing in organizing this movement.

  • perroquet51

    Lauer is a bloodthirsty pig.

  • Terri VanHees

    Thanks Chris…..getting my butter wrappers ready today!!!

  • Tocious

    I have read Ms. Jackson’s deposition. It is 284 pages long and only 6 of those pages actually deal with Ms. Deen. And in those 6 pages Ms. Jackson states that she has never heard Paula make any type of racial slur, she has never known Paula to discriminate against anyone based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Ms. Jackson is trying to blackmail Paula, plain and simple. It is amazing to me how these so-called journalists can pick and choose what they want to read. It is exploitation. These people are not journalists. Whatever happened to researching to make sure you are telling the entire story. I will never watch the Today Show again. I have boycotted the Food Network and every chef and affiliate it is associated with. I will boycott Smithfield Foods and any other organization that jumps on the bash Paula bandwagon. Do your research before you make stupid statements. Oh, wait, that wouldn’t get them ratings.

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      That’s exactly what it’s about – ratings. Lisa Jackson’s attorney threatened to go public with these allegations. He sold the story to the National ENQUIRER immediately following the deposition. He revised the complaint after Lisa Jackson’s deposition, adding in the accusations about the “n-word.” Then the ENQUIRER did the rest.

      • Pinky5712

        Well of course he sold it to this rag because he knew Lisa Jackson had no money and that was a quick money maker for both of them.

  • DHall

    Great post, and very much appreciated to see all the positive comments y’all are doing.

    I am fortunate to say that I have known Paula and her family – both personally and professionally – the last 22 years. She has done so much for our beautiful Savannah, bringing so many tourists and growing our local economy. Her “empire” has afforded many locals to continue to be employed when the national unemployment rate was so high. Our tourism industry simply would not be able to employ the large number of people and continue to grow without her. Period.

    I have also had the misfortune of knowing Lisa Jackson. She is a heinous person, and in no way should ever be referred to as a lady.

    Because I am friends with Paula, and have a very close friend that is an executive with Paula Deen Enterprises, I have had several people that work in the restaurant business here in Savannah approach me about their wanting to come forward and speak about their past work experience with Jackson while they were employed at Bubba’s. All of them wanting to know if I could get the information to Paula’s team in an effort to help the public know the real truth about the type of person Jackson really is. Many of whom are black.

    Jackson was known for her polar mood swings and endless use of profanity, in front of employees, vendors/suppliers and customers. My personal dealings with her always left me wondering why she would ever be in the service industry with the nasty attitude she carried, as she never seemed to amaze me as to how badly she could treat my customers that would dine at Bubba’s.

    Jackson also has a checkered work history here in Savannah. The media that is reporting all the lies and nasty articles about Paula need to do their research and find out why she was fired from a previous job – specifically at a local tour company.

    So many times over the last 15 years during Paula’s rocket rise to fame, I have repeated the same thing to tourists, family and friends that question me about who she really is, what’s she really like: She is the hardest working person I know, she never stops. Generous, caring and absolutely one of the funniest people I know. She is also a very good business woman, and has developed and mentored an incredible team of good people that work with her. What you see is what you get with her. I am so tired of people saying that she’s a fake and that her accent isn’t real. My only response to that is, “Have you ever actually been to Albany, GA?” If you have not, then I can understand why one would imagine that her accent is fake.

    Keep up the great posts!

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      Why thank you! I couldn’t be more disappointed in our media than I am right now. The stories that have been written and the way Paula’s been portrayed are absolutely, mind-numbingly callous and cruel. It’s careless reporting. The court documents shed quite a different light on this story. Ironically, it’s those documents that the media is “quoting” in their reporting. As a journalist, I’m ashamed of what journalism has become.

      I’ve read all of the documents that have been made available to the public, and I can say without a doubt that Lisa Jackson, did not even suggest that Paula used the N-word at all – not a single mention of that in her deposition. I can also say that Paula herself said that she doesn’t use that word or even tell racial jokes. This is a media smear campaign through and through.

      I, for one, look forward to the day that I can come out to Georgia myself and enjoy a meal at Bubba’s and The Lady and Sons! I know that Paula is well aware of the massive number of people who are standing up for her – please pass along to her that on behalf of myself, Chris Ford and Stitches ‘n Dishes, she has our 100% support and we will continue covering her story to assure that the facts are reported.

      If you’re willing and available, I’d like to speak with you further for another story on Friday.

      Chris Ford

      • DHall

        Hey Chris, once again – well said! “Careless reporting” is an excellent way to describe what has been written.

        I have forwarded your link to their staff. When you finally make it to Savannah, please email me and I’ll personally see to it that you experience what our Savannah hospitality is all about.

        Yes, I am absolutely willing to speak with you. Please email daufuskie@comcast.net for my contact info. Thank you again for your support and the national support you’ve put behind her.

        • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

          Fantastic! I just may arrange that trip sooner than later. It’s been YEARS since I’ve been to Georgia, and I absolutely love the sound of some Savannah hospitality!

    • Pinky5712

      I am so outraged that the media is making this a one sided story. They have tried and convicted Paula in the press and not one picture of this extortionist has appeared.Everyone that know’s the fact’s on what kind of person Lisa T jackson is should step forward and make statements.Enough of the hide and seek game.I hope she never see’s a dime and has to go into hiding like Casey Anthony did.I have followed Paula since she she started in tv and have nothing but love and respect for her and her family.She does many good things that people in the press choose to ignore.

    • jtswife

      Thats awesome!! I really hope you can get them to be character witness against Jackson. She is destroying Paula after all she has done for her and it is wrong.

  • Cathryn Conner Buchanan

    Love Paula Deen and her family, I have been to both Restaurant’s . I own every cookbook and even 2 sets of her cook wear. I too am from the south and know what is in Paula’s heart by the way she talks to people both black and white . It is painfully obvious the only way the person who brought this suit could hurt Ms. Deen was to LIE… Why does the media not bring out more on who and what this person is.. Either way I am washing my butter wrappers and will certainly support her in every way I can, I have bock Food Network and fully intend to also send letters to my cable company to request they consider finding a replacement network for one that seems to be in line with something called far play and forgiveness.

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      Thanks Cathryn! It’s ALL about ratings. If the media reported the actual story, nobody would be reading and watching. That’s really the truth. Here are the facts:

      This is a lawsuit raised against Bubba, Paula’s brother. Paula just happens to own half of the restaurant.

      Paula doesn’t work at Bubba’s and hasn’t even been in the restaurant in 5 years.

      Lisa Jackson’s original complaint and her deposition never accused Paula of using racial slurs or the N-Word.

      Paula never said that she makes racial jokes, and only admitted to using the N-word once, nearly 30 years ago.

      If the media were to report the actual story, that a disgruntled employee attempted to extort money from Paula, and is suing Bubba, it wouldn’t even make page three of the news. So Paula suffers because of Jackson’s greed, her attorney’s greed and their willingness to lie and sell that lie to the tabloids.

  • http://www.mikechurch.com/ pete838

    So instead of a credible story about a really terrible bigot, what we learn is that a former employee with her eyes on winning at the lawsuit lottery made scurrilous accusations in an attemt to ruin someone and make up for their own shortcomings. Of course the media was happy to oblige at tearing apart a decent Southern woman. Tawana Brawley adapted to the 21st century.

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      It’s a media heyday, Pete and it’s ridiculous. In addition to writing at Stitches ‘n Dishes, I’ve worked in the law for many years. I’ve actually seen attorneys just like Jackson’s many times, and it’s not surprising that he’d sell the story to the Enquirer at all. The media is eating it up – it’s doing wonders for ratings everywhere at Paula’s expense. It’s appalling.

      • http://www.mikechurch.com/ pete838

        I pray that PD will come out better for it on the other side. Sometimes these terrible life events are a catalyst to something much better.

  • Doug Lawson

    It’s sad that this day in America a good, honest, hard working woman can be called and labeled a racist with no proof and by the mouths of other divisive racists and so much of what she’s worked for can be taken away because of a 30 year old statement that was actually correct in it’s description of the person. Looks like they agree with the gunman…just because she’s white. When is this reverse discrimination going to end? When we make it end. Someone better step up and get this good woman’s back before all hell breaks loose because that’s where it’s headed.

    • Daisiemae

      The bank robber who stuck a gun to Paula’s head has come out in her defense. He says she is a nice lady and does not deserve what is happening to her.

  • Lanez Doster

    Sir, Mrs. Paula Deen has proved over and over that she can build an empire with the bricks that people throw at her. The woman just wants something for nothing, because as I understand her, Mary Mac’s Tea Room is a total disaster. Paula has brought us good food, we love her restaurants, we love her books, we love her cookware. Have it all. And I hope to meet her someday. But she is going to be ok, because not only are her fans on her side, but God is too. He won’t let this woman prosper trying to tear down her name. Getting my butter wrappers ready!!!!!

    • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

      You go, Lanez! I agree. In time, Paula will be just fine, and I’m sure she knows this. These trials and tribulations are extraordinarily difficult, and I’m sure it’s weighed heavily on Paula and her family. So, the more wrappers the better!

    • Pinky5712

      I really feel that Mary Macs Tea room should be left out of this. I would imagine if this liar was still working there, they have had to let her go. I wouldn’t want that kind of person working for me as she has proven what she’ll stoop to for money.

  • Carleen Clay Duncan

    It is my understanding that WalMart has cancelled on Paula.

    • Tocious

      this is true. I have boycotted Walmart. Target is keeping her tho. If anyone is interested there is a facebook page called We Support Paula Deen. I don’t know if it is allowed in here but if you support Paula, please join our page. If this is against the rules, please accept my apology.

      • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

        Not against the rules at all Carleen! The Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/WeSupportPaulaDean

      • Sandra Allen Bazzani

        Target dropped as well as Sears holdings Home depot. We need to make sure their is a list that people can read so you can all boycott them.

  • UKiddingMe

    Lauer, the guy who can’t keep it in his pants, wants to make Paula Deen look bad?
    What a joke you are, Lauer. You’re lucky your wife hasn’t left you yet, jerk!

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  • Sandra Allen Bazzani

    I joined “We support Paula Deen” When I started last week. I just checked and it is 510,000 and growing. I have written emails and made phone calls. Don’t worry Paula we are with you. The stores that are dropping you will lose business. I heard a so called expert say that the boycotts won’t last long. Oh yeah watch us!!!!! I don’t spend my money at stores that I don’t respect.

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  • matgaret

    My butter wrappers are on there way. I absolutely loved this idea.

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  • Jake Midnights

    Amen!!!! you have said so well what i have been trying to say for days
    now!!! i know that she will come out of this with her family stronger
    than ever God has here in his hands!!! besides she is as strong as the
    mighty oak and yet as graceful and flexible as the great willow tree and
    all lady to boot!!! we love you Paula keep your head up tall if others
    can stomp all over our flag and people call themselves and others by
    names they should not and recording artists and movies etc can use nasty
    words all the time and not get any back slash then this should not be
    happening and i am proud of the gentleman who held the gun to your head
    for coming out and standing by you it made me so happy and proud of him
    and the influence you had on him after all this time!! god bless
    y’all!!!!

  • EDS

    “The Today Show” has lost me with this Lauer “interview.” There are a few times when he points his pen/finger at her, and it is nothing short of despicable. His mean-spiritedness came through loudly and clearly. He was rude and cruel.

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