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Thursday, December 13

Paula's Pulled Into Something...

Okay... this whole Smithfield / Paula Deen controversy is getting crazy.

She's protested wherever she goes. She's got a section of the Smithfield Justice website devoted to her. And now Presidential Master Chef Talli V. Counsel has written a letter to Paula asking her to reconsider her Smithfield endorsements.

But Paula is stubborn ole' southern gal and not giving in!

(Paula's looking kinda Bea Arthur there, ain't she?)

In a recent interview with a Savannah-based TV station, Paula said:
"You wouldn't come to me if you had a brain tumor and said please, operate on my tumor, cut it out. No, you wouldn't come to me for that. I wouldn't come to a union organizer to help me develop recipes in my kitchen or to help me come in and cook. I want people who know what they're doing and i have no knowledge of those kind of issues.”
True. However I don't think anyone's asking Paula to fix ("operate on") any of the union issues. They're upset about her profiting off of what they think is a corrupt organization. Not a very good argument, Paula.

THEN... when asked if she would not associate with the company if she found out workers were being intimidated, Paula responded:
“You know, all of us in America who work we all have some complaints about our work. It's called work for a reason. It's not called play, so there will always be complaints about our workplace. On my job, i have been injured. I have taken falls. But you know what, that's part of the risk I take when I go to work and of course. I don't want to take unnecessary risks. I don't want anyone out there taking unnecessary risks, but this is our, it's our job.”
Spoken like a true Republican.

I kid... a bit, but I think there's a big difference between slipping on a banana peel at the Food Network kitchen and getting your hand chopped off in a meat processor where you're grinding up thousands of hogs each day.


I am not an expert on this whole controversy by any means, but unlike Paula I'm not profiting off of the company; I'm not a paid endorser. Paula should have thoroughly investigated this issue before lending her name and likeness and it's not okay for her to just feign ignorance now and play up this whole "I'm just a lil' old cook from Southwest Georgia" thing when she's really a multi-millionaire businesswoman. Big money comes with big responsibility.

[Image Source USA Today/AP]

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At 12/13/2007 11:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paula is profiting off "unsolved union issues?" Spoken like a true liberal Democrat. I kid...a bit.

At 12/14/2007 12:40 AM , Anonymous sylvie said...

Way to go, anonymous! You got that right.

At 12/14/2007 1:18 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I found interesting about the TV interview was at the end the camera focused in on her diamond studded watch. She is profiting off of Smithfield big time, which most likely she doesn't want to lose.

Yet I don't understand from her comments, why she wants to come off looking so stupid? You would think that she could at least come up with a statement that makes her sound like someone that runs a multi-million dollar empire!

At 12/14/2007 4:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

And there’s no irony whatsoever in your criticizing Paula for profiting from her choice to endorse a product when just to the left of your entry an Amazon.com ad for several cookbooks appears…including one with her face on the cover.

That’s not hypocrisy at all.

Eets the ebil corporations! I must partake of their fundage to get my message out! Right?

I think you could use one of Aunt Sandy’s cocktails so that you can continue to tell yourself that…and believe it.

At 12/14/2007 9:28 AM , Blogger jacob said...

anon1: Perhaps the picture wasn't clear. It could be changed to say "I'm not the one to solve SMITHFIELD'S union issues... but I'll profit off of them (read: Smithfield the company NOT the union issues) in the meantime).

anon2: yeah, the watch thing is weird. I'm not trying to blame Paula here-- I'm just pointing these things out and commenting on them.

anon3: There are no cookbooks in the sidebar with paula's face on them. I believe there's a DVD with Ina, Sara Moulton, and her, but I can guarantee to you that i'm BARELY profiting off of that. This blog is a labor of love and the 5% I may get from amazon barely covers the cost of even owning the URL.

And I would hardly call this post a "criticism" of Paula. I'm just commenting on a news story and noting that her answers don't seem that well-researched or well-founded. I still love Paula and think she's a great lady and great TV personality... I just think that if she chooses to respond to the workers' protests she might want to sound a little more legit.

At 12/14/2007 2:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like her personal life story, too. Her accomplishments are inspiring and she has every right to be proud of them. And she comes across as a warm person, albeit slightly crude. But she shouldn't get out from under the union issue by playing the dumb hick card. She's a famous, wealthy person now, and what she does will be scrutinized and commented on. Her upward mobility comes with increased responsibility. Flashing her wealth around isn't going to help, either (see "crude" comment above).

It appears that her red state values are showing, but then I'm a liberal democrat from the left coast who grew up working class in a union household. Thus, I am obviously an enemy of the state and nothing I say can be trusted.

At 12/14/2007 4:50 PM , Blogger David said...

Paula's millions should be seized and redistributed to the Smithfield employees whose sweat is lining her pockets....errr...I didn't say that.

God bless Dick Cheney!

Hooray for capitalism!

At 12/14/2007 7:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's very honest and forthright of you to put up this post and air grievances as they may (or may not) exist. For people that have suffered almost seven years of Repubican ugligness, i.e. a liberal is not the same thing as a "redistribute the wealth communist" people do need to take into consideration where they spend their money and whom they support. I am far more concerned with the myriad of ecological issues that surround Smithfield's pork production than only their mistreatment of low paid workers - and it is mistreatment. You reap what you sow but sometimes I wonder if Jesus' sayings aren't too liberal for you red staters out there. Oh yeah, "the poor will always be with us" - gosh how some of you gotta love that one and feel let off pretty easy. If only. . . Roberto desde Miami

At 12/15/2007 12:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you really ought to review “red state” charitable giving versus “blue state” charitable giving—if you’re going to bring it down to that level—before you make a statement like that.

http://www.catalogueforphilanthropy.org/cfp/db/generosity.php?year=2005 That’s one, you could find the information anywhere.

I always think it’s better to actually know what you’re talking about. Maybe that’s just me.

At 12/15/2007 9:03 AM , Blogger Kristina said...

Thanks for the interesting story. I was never a huge fan of Paula but this sealed the deal.

You're dead-on with analysis that Paula is a savvy business woman. Whether or not she knew about the conditions before, she should know the implications about endorsing them now. I hate when people shirk responsibility when playing the ignorance card.

At 12/15/2007 6:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, Paula Deen is a good Southern Democrat, kinda like Jimmy Carter who was on her show and grand dragon Robert Bird of West Virginia, oh sorry…senator Robert Bird of West Virginia. You may want to go back over to DU and let them know.

At 12/16/2007 9:19 PM , Anonymous Jeff said...

I wish she was more alert, like Kathie Lee Gifford was when her eyes were opened to the sweatshop conditions in NYC-area manufacturing plants for her clothing line for Wal-Mart. She even had hubby Frank Gifford there before dawn paying these people in cash. (Shouldn't she have asked her mentor, Gordon Elliott, about unions? Wasn't his chat show taped under some union's jurisdiction?

At 12/18/2007 12:13 PM , Anonymous Tom N said...

I don't understand why celebrity endorsers think they're immune from criticism when the companies they're selling their name to do unsavory things. Smithfield has a lot to answer for, and so does Paula Deen for shilling for them. Of course she doesn't have to "solve" the problem. But by acting so stupidly, she appears to tacitly endorse the company's behavior.

At 12/18/2007 6:19 PM , Blogger John said...

Paula was on NPR's Diane Rehm Show last month and got hit with the same thing - Diane (who has a "face for TV" as Paula put it, but a voice for print media) wouldn't let up on the question of the Smithfield controversy.

I dunno, I'd like to think the best here. She strikes me as sincere, but part naive and part "better not piss off the overlords at Smithfield". If you're a celebrity profiting off a big company with serious questions about how it treats its staff, you should indeed be held accountable. She likes to play the dumbass, but I doubt she's as stupid as she claims to be. Either she needs to come right out and say, "I have no problem with how Smithfield treats its employees and they should thank their lucky stars they even have jobs" or admit, "Yep, I admit Smithfield is really hurting its workers at its Tar Heel, NC, plant, and I must sadly part company with them until they treat them with the dignity they deserve." This "Oh-I-don't-know-nuthin'-I'm-just-a-simple-girl-from-Savannah" schtick is not working.

At 1/07/2008 9:01 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, for those so critical of Paula, I have to say, you may not be thinking realistically, but merely idealistically. It is well within the realm of possibility that Paula couldn't say a thing about the union or any other Smithfield issue without great legal ramifications. Speaking out in any form could very well result in a law suit to the tune of tens of thousands of MILLIONS. While it's great to state what she should do or what some who are oh-so-virtuous would do, in all reality, "taking the higher road" probably isn't an option for Paula. Can those who are critical of her REALLY say that they would speak out, despite a contract stipulation that would allow you to be sued for multiple times over your net worth?

Jacob, as always, a faaaabulous blog!

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