Deen, who rose to fame on her buttery, folksy way with words as well as ribs, went full Southern gothic to turn the table on her critics. Hers was a display somewhere on the scale between the defiant Bill Clinton (“I did not have sex with that woman”) and the weepy televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker.
“And I tell you what, if there’s anyone out there that has never said something that they wish they could take back, if you’re out there, please pick up that stone and throw it so hard at my head that it kills me. Please,” Ms. Deen said. “I want to meet you. I want to meet you. I is what I is and I’m not changing.”
There is nothing new about sorrowful admissions of innocence on the “Today” program — that is still the premier reputation-repair destination for politicians and celebrities in trouble, including Don Imus and Charlie Sheen. This one should have been a more convincing spectacle — nobody really got hurt, except Ms. Deen and her Southern-cooking empire. This was her chance to lean into the schadenfreude, turn on the charm and save her skin.
Instead, the contrite denial had a desperate underlay that didn’t really help either Ms. Deen or her interrogator.
Yes, what she did was stupid. And she is now paying a severe financial price for it as well as witnessing the crumbling of her reputation.
So just how is she supposed to “turn on the charm” and not sound “desperate”? Of course, had she been the opposite-smiling and nonchalant-they would be excoriating her for that too.
Maybe the tears are sincere, maybe they’re not. But they are certainly appropriate for the situation and not deserving of a negative review.