Paula Deen's sons Bobby Deen and Jamie Deen appeared on the CNN morning show "New Day" Tuesday to defend their celebrity chef mother against allegations of making racist statements and having a discriminatory workplace.
"We're just here to say that this environment of racism that's been spoken about could not be further from the truth. We're inclusive," Jamie Deen told "New Day" host Chris Cuomo.
Deen has come under fire in recent days as transcripts from a deposition she gave for a sexual harassment and workplace discrimination lawsuit she is facing revealed her to admit to using the n-word, among other racially-charged comments.
"And I can tell you this, that word, that horrifying, terrible word that exists, and I abhor it coming from any person, is not in my vocabulary," Bobby said Tuesday. "It's definitely not in my brother's vocabulary. It's not in my mother's vocabulary. We were not raised in a home where that word was used."
Since the transcript – in which Deen confessed to making other racial slurs and even planning a wedding with black servers dressed like slaves — appeared online last week, Deen has struggled to bulwark her image. She bailed on a "Today" show appearance Friday, and later that day released two widely-mocked videos apologizing for the revelations in the deposition. Her sons suggested Tuesday the controversy comes in part from opportunists trying to take advantage of their high-profile family.
"These accusations are very hurtful to her, and it's very sad, and frankly I'm disgusted by the entire thing because it began as extortion, and it's become character assassination and our mother is not the picture that's being painted of her," Bobby said.
Amidst the uproar, the Food Network has announced it would not renew Deen's show, and her many other endorsements appear to be on the line. Smithfield ham announced Monday it would be ending its partnership with her. Bobby and Jamie Deen's CNN appearance comes on the eve of their mother's scheduled return to the "Today" show to address the controversy.