Celebrities on trial in the court of public opinion might want to think twice before using Today to get out their message. Almost immediately after Matt Lauer’s interview with Paula Deen on the program this morning, the show began critiquing it — and gave Deen mostly failing grades. “Paula Deen’s TODAY apology ‘failed’ and was ‘bizarre,’ experts say”, ran the Today.com headline. “Opinions are split over how effective her 13-minute mea culpa really was,” the show’s website’s critique said. The critique included reviews by public relations experts, one of whom noted, “(Former President Richard Nixon) never apologized by saying he was guilty or wrong about Watergate; she was the same way.”
“Toward the end it was kind of bizarre,” weighed in another. Insisting she’d only used the N-word once was a big strategic mistake, they all agreed. If anyone ever caught her on a cell phone making a racial slur “she’s done,” said one PR expert. The show ticked off the “other low points” in Deen’s appearance. Among them, she was accused of giving rehearsed responses and gestures, and of using “pidgin colloquialism” like “I is what I is.”
“The fate of Deen’s star power and her cooking empire remains to be seen,” Today said, noting Deen’s apology “or lack thereof” could mean the difference between her empire surviving or not. Today noted other mea culpas it said had been successful: “Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Alec Baldwin.”
Meanwhile, the Today on-air gang picked the interview apart too. But first, The Voice host Carson Daly filed a report in which he said that “as one might imagine, after that riveting interview, social media is abuzz”, adding, “We’ve been overwhelmed with your responses” and that opinion is “split right evenly down the middle.” He then read some of the tweets – most memorably: “Obviously, she hasn’t learned a single hot-buttered thing.” On NBC’s Facebook page, 82% of people said the interview did not change their mind about Deen, Daly reported.
“You need a pot holder to touch my phone right now,” Lauer said happily.