Paula Deen Recalls N-Word Scandal, Talks Lessons Learned and New Digital Network

Associated Press

The celebrity chef says she doesn't recognize the woman who cried on NBC's 'Today' in June 2013

Paula Deen returned to NBC's Today show on Tuesday, more than a year after she sat down for a tearful interview with Matt Lauer, but the celebrity chef said she couldn't recognize the woman who appeared on the show then.

"That was a woman in trauma — I would say in shock, trying to understand what happened. And you know, the cold, hard fact, Matt, is I probably should not have been here. I probably should have been at home, maybe even under the care of a doctor," Deen said.

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Joined by her two sons, Jamie and Bobby, Deen couldn't even watch Today's preinterview taped recap of the fallout from her revelation in a deposition that she previously used the N-word.

She added that she had to spend some time by herself to understand why many of her business partners had to cut ties with her.
"Because I was confused as to the length of time since those words had been part of a language. I had a hard time understanding because it had been 30 years," Deen explained.

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But now she's making a comeback, launching a subscription-based digital network containing her old Food Network programs and original content.

When asked whether she's convinced her new digital venture, which will cost $8 to $10 a month to subscribe, will be viable, she said, "Yes, I think it can be so," recalling how she was excited to check in with a supporter's website every day when she was going through her rough patch.

Deen wouldn't disclose how much it cost for her company to buy her Food Network library, but her son Jamie joked it was "more than $20."

Jamie added that the new digital venture will feature 100 new shows, 20 a week, and they've been working on it for a year.

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Over the past year, Deen has also learned "so much" from her collapse, she said. She's working on a documentary about it "because I feel everybody needs to know the whole entire story" and teased that what she learned may require a new book.

And what did she learn?

"The most powerful thing, and I thought I knew it, because I've talked about it before, but it's the power of words," she said. "I don't care how old they are. Words are so powerful. They can hurt. They can make people happy. Well, my words hurt people. They disappointed people. And frankly, I disappointed myself, and for that, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry for the hurt that I caused people, because it went deep … people lost their jobs. It went deep into corporate America. And I'm here to make people happy. Not to bring people sadness."

Watch Deen's full interview below.

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