Matt Lauer Paula Deen

Where does one go to see vapidity posing as intellectualism? One answer: A Matt Lauer interview.

There is something slightly stomach-turning about watching Matt Lauer and the national media spend multiple news cycles on a celebrity chef who said the word ‘nigger’ 30 years ago, in private to her husband, after a man stuck a gun to her temple during a bank heist. As the NSA gleans data on millions of innocent Americans in real time, Matt Lauer crosses his legs, puts his smart glasses on and gets serious about a word that was said decades ago by a woman who does things with butter. NSA bureaucrats and the politicians who would rather talk about race than surveillance programs are laughing their heads off.

An excerpt from the infallible Matt Lauer’s interview with Paula Deen includes:

Matt Lauer: Are you here to stop the financial bleeding? … I’ll ask it to you bluntly: Are you a racist?

Paula Deen: No. No, I’m not. …

Matt Lauer: By birth, by choice, by osmosis — you don’t feel as though you have racist tendencies? … You raised your right hand, you swore under oath that you have used a word that is the most offensive word you can use to describe an African American. And you’ve talked about this wedding, this wedding you wanted to plan — that plantation-style wedding — whether you used the N-word or not. How does someone use the N-word in a joke or in private and not be considered a racist?

I will answer that question for Matt. Here is what I said concerning “N-word” hysteria:

When you give words more power than they deserve, they will always be readily available weapons — and desperate, dumb or scared people will use them. This is the end-result of political correctness. When the word ‘nigger’ is so scary to people that it is unacceptable to utter under any circumstance (we actually have people who think censoring Mark Twain is a good idea) it takes on a life of its own. …

Speech always wants to be free, even if it’s ugly. When you try and lock a word away it ferments into something uglier and more potent than it would ever be if left to its own devices. I do not condone the words of either of these individuals, but I do think that political correctness serves as a steroid for the stupid-centers of our brains.

Paula Deen had a weapon stuck to her head by a bad man, and she had … nothing. After the fact, the most powerful “weapon” she had against a black man was the use of the word ‘nigger.’ Why? Because men like Matt Lauer have given it so much power that it can’t be uttered. Ever. In any context. And if it is said, people like him incredulously ask: “How does someone use the N-word in a joke or in private and not be considered a racist?”

Years ago I was a substitute teacher while saving money for graduate school. I was subbing for an English class, which was reading Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men.’ As students took turns reading out loud they would awkwardly pause over the word ‘nigger’ for seconds at a time. Meanwhile, everyone giggled. Finally, I said, “Listen, we’re all adults. Just read the word because the pauses are ridiculous.” One student replied that the teacher said “only racist people use that word.” My response was that it was a fictional book with fictional characters, and that merely reading a word does not make someone a racist. The next day the teacher found out I dared to let them read “the N-word” out loud and had a “talk” with me. When I defended my decision she said: “That’s not something we do around here.” I was never asked to sub for her class again. Which one of us should have been in charge of guiding and shaping young minds? You tell me.

Have I ever called someone a ‘nigger’ in my life? No. That’s because I understand that stupidity does not discriminate. There are mean dumb people from all walks of life and of all colors. There are also incredibly uplifting intelligent men and women of all colors. Regardless, I also know that a person who sincerely repents for their sins deserves a shot at redemption. It is disgusting to watch people gleefully pile on as a woman’s life’s work crumbles before her very eyes over the course of a few days. Over what? Crude jokes, a simulated sex act with a chocolate eclair and the single utterance of a repugnant word.

America’s history with slavery will always be long and ugly scar on a body that is, overall, an impressive piece of work. Today, its problem isn’t so much its past, but those who use any opportunity to open up old wounds and prevent us from collectively moving forward. If Matt Lauer spent half as much time grilling elected officials as he does doing puff pieces and superfluous “scandal” segments, the world would be a better place.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll listen to James Brown. He says more in ‘America is My Home’ in three minutes and twenty-five seconds than Matt Lauer has said in three years.

Advertisements

About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

30 comments

  1. The degree to which one must be “politically correct” these days is ridiculous. So is the fact that many people will accuse you of being racist simply because you don’t agree with them, prefer somebody else over them, or candidly dislike them. ‘America is My Home’ is great, we need more of that today.

    1. If you ask 10 different people to define “racism” you will 10 different answers. The word loses its meaning when people throw it out there for anything. Disagree with the president? Racist! Even the head of the Chicago teacher’s union has basically called Rahm Emmanuel and Chicago’s liberal elite a bunch of racists because they (gasp!) they to close down schools that are basically vacant. The easiest thing in the world is to call someone a racist because there’s really no way to disprove the charge. How convenient for the person slinging the accusation.

  2. well said. exactly my sentiments. i don’t know whether to cry when i see what has been going on {not because i love paula deen or am a die-hard fan… i hardly knew anything about her before all this erupted} or whether to let nausea from how disgusted i am get the best of me when i see what has been going on. and i couldn’t agree more with your assessment of matt lauer and his interview… and all the other matt lauers out there that are/have treated her or anyone like her the same way. sitting so high and mighty as if they are the moral benchmark for the world to see and aspire to. if each and every person breathing today were to fall under the scrutiny that she is falling under right now, none of us would have our jobs {or “empires”} or “squeaky clean” reputations. it sickens me to watch someone go through such harsh judgement when every single person withholding forgiveness from her is every bit as much in need of forgiveness for the things they’ve said privately or publicly in their lives… maybe even more. what we have been watching unfold and play out in the media is almost unbelievable. and the double standards that bubble to the surface of each of these talk shows and crucification fests are laughable, sad and appalling all at the same time. and yes… i agree. anything to get america’s {or the world’s eyes} off the deeply troubling issues that are plaguing our country… one of which is racism, yes. but in my opinion, that battle should be fought on a different front and not used as a sensationalized subject that will bring ratings to networks. don’t even get me started about matt lauer….

    1. That’s the thing that gets me. I’m sure if an investigative reporter started rooting around into Matt Lauer’s past there would be plenty of unseemly things that would turn up. The way that he carries himself, as if he’s this infallible being that needs to be groveled to, is absurd.

      The media can create or destroy anyone it wants. They do it regularly. It’s sick and disgusting how they systematically go about destroying people for ratings. As I’ve said before, I do not own a television. I need to watch the news for work, but once I’m home I don’t really ever get to see television shows. ‘The Rock’s’ new show ‘The Hero’ is an exception, and I get that because it’s online the day after the initial airing. I guess the point is, I think I’m healthier and happier since getting rid of my television. I might get one down the line, but for the most part I think I’ll stick to History, The Discovery Channel, etc.

      None of us are perfect and we should extend mercy to those who are truly repentant. One of the most precious things we have in our possession is the power to forgive. I wished more people realized that.

    2. yes, it is one of the most precious things we have. in the midst of the madness of this all, i’ve been happy to see forgiveness and fairness shown to and bestowed on paula by at least some people in the media or celebrity limelight… saying things like “really? isn’t it time to move on and quit blowing this up into something so much larger than it is?”… even from people who stand to be the most offended by the word she used. of course, these people are as willing to let go of ratings or saying what’s “popular” for the sake of what is right as they are to let go of their harsh judgement and condemnation. i’d hope for the same forgiveness if i were to ever be called out on every unkind, demeaning thing i ever said in the heat of anger or otherwise. i can’t quite understand why there is a group of people out there that would set out to destroy a life over something like this. i can’t help but think the punishment does not at all fit the crime.

      as for not watching t.v., i very much commend you for that. i think it has sadly become a “bible” of sorts… or guidebook to the masses… on how we should live and think. i have one, but only recently started watching it when i started to get “all-day” nausea due to being in my first trimester of my second pregnancy. it’s been an easy distraction. but outside of that, my husband and i find little worth watching, and so much of it goes against what we believe or what our convictions are that we barely can stomach watching it. news, reality t.v., dramas and comedies. it doesn’t matter. but i digress. it’s just nice to know there are people who actually live without television. it’s my goal to cut it completely from our home, too. i found that when i stopped watching it over the past four or five years, i didn’t miss it at all and i found so much more joy in other things.

    3. I definitely think there are good shows out there, but they’re few and far between. I think most of the news is not geared towards actually providing people with useful information, but pitting them against one another. Cable news wants us at each others throats and the sitcoms and advertisements want you to buy, buy buy! Why? Why not?! Even though we wear about 20% of what’s in our closet every year, we need to buy that new shirt or new jeans. Even though our cell phone works perfectly fine, we need a new one. It goes on and on.

      I used to watch Iron Chef, How Things Work, Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters, random stuff on History … and that’s about it. I’m not going to lie, I always did watch Seinfeld… The characters were all miserable people, but the writing was pretty darn sharp.

      It’s also no secret if you’ve been reading this blog that I like movies. 🙂

      To me, it would only be fitting if the kind of judgment we mete out on others is applied to us when we meet our Creator. I have to believe that the people who are laughing and giggling and weirdly rubbing their hands in glee at Paula Deen’s fall from grace will have quite a wake-up call when they go to sleep for the final time…

  3. Since I have read Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men twice and enjoyed it am I a racist? I find that the people who complain the most about tolerance are usually the most intolerant people.

    In order to move past an issue we must first address it.

    1. I asked the kids in the class I subbed for if we should just go through all our old books and just start using a black marker to obscure words that are offensive. I’m assuming that got back to the teacher, too. Imagine me in a confrontation with some sort of granola-hippie lady. That’s sort of what it was like. Her tone said, “I think you’re abhorrent.” Oh well. I think she’s Orwellian.

    2. How can one learn when they do not have an open mind? This is another case of selective history.

  4. you’re kinda perpetuating the distraction by blogging about Paula and not focusing more on what the security state is doing to Americans.

    do you care about the constitution?

    1. hmmmmm… i guess i was thinking this blog post was more about the ignorance and conceit that runs rampant in the media than it is about paula. it could have been written about any number of “scandals”, really. i think it’s okay to call to attention the stupidity that is out there that we’d love to see go away so that real and important issues can be addressed. i for one don’t mind someone writing about that. i find it refreshing that someone touched on the subject from this angle and pointed out what many are thinking… “let’s move on and get to important matters… even racism, but doing so on a level playing field and in a non-witch-hunt sort of way.” i don’t know. that’s just how i saw this post. i don’t see it as distracting at all. i see it as a wake-up call.

    2. Lizard19 likes to redirect conversations to what he wants to talk about. I’m done playing his games because a.) he’s a negative energy vampire and feeds off the attention given to him when he annoys people, and b.) I know the vast majority of people (like yourself) understand exactly what I’m saying.

      Thanks again for the read, Georgia. As always, I appreciate it.

  5. I’m baffled why the current news cycle is so fixated on this, and why many newscasts are misrepresenting what happened. Deen isn’t being dropped like a hot potato for calling a single black bank robber the n-word thirty years ago. Her 150-page deposition from her lawsuit paints an ugly picture of her attitude towards blacks and her attitude towards her brother’s employees.

    A couple of the worst parts: a plantation-theme wedding for her brother? Sounded great to her. Possibly opening an Antebellum South-themed restaurant with white-coated, middle-aged blacks as servers? She loved the idea, but didn’t do it because “people would misunderstand.” Let that sink in. Don’t forget her awkward explanation of her rich great-granddaddy’s blowing his brains out after losing his son and his 34 slave labor force. Plus, her disastrous “I am what I am” non-rebuttal on the infotainment shows. And the awkward apology after that.

    It is really surprising she’s losing it all. Saying the word once or twice in the heat of the moment doesn’t necessarily make one a racist. But if you really take a good look at Deen, a clear pattern emerges. And it ain’t pretty. If she was an average Jane, nobody’d care. But she makes buttery food and people love her. She may not be wearing a pointy hat as white as her veneers, but being from the South, I know her type. The Old South attitudes die hard.

    I don’t watch Lauer and could care less about him being a whipping boy for the right, but this seems pretty clear to me. She has this image of being a sweet, southern-cooking guru and when it came to light she had old South racial attitudes and, to make matters worse, her abominably mis-handling the fallout… well, the results aren’t exactly surprising.

    I do feel bad for her on a human level, and hope that she learns something from this and grows as a person.

    1. Agreed, the hostile work environment that some employees are complaining about seems lost in all the coverage…..

    2. I haven’t read the deposition, but it seems odd to me that this woman would bring a lawsuit up after years. I’ve had friends who worked in restaurants, and … well, inappropriate jokes are told (just like they are everywhere). Perhaps I’m wrong, but my guess is that they had a restaurant and things got rowdy from time to time (perhaps after the restaurant closed they all stuck around for drinks on occasion?).

      On this one I readily admit that maybe I’m biased or insensitive or what not. I’ve just had a few jobs in the past where, if I wanted to, I could easily bring some sort of weird lawsuit over the dirty jokes and language that was used if I wanted to.

    3. It definitely might be a bogus lawsuit; but the coverage is never about the suit, it’s always about her use of the n word during a non work related incident (by her story)….she’ll have her day in court; I just think this media feeding frenzy is ridiculous. I find it hard to believe no one in the vast Today Show staff has ever said that word; Lauer seems hypocritical to me to deem people racists by merely saying it. I’ve heard it from all races often using lines from movies/songs/comedy routine; definitely boorish, but the vast majority of times it’s people being silly with their friends; not hate…..again, Paula will have her day in court.

    4. Who cares why that woman brought up the lawsuit, the lawsuit’s end result, why Matt Lauer tried to wear big boy journalist pants during that interview, or whether or not The Today Show has the “never-used-the-n-word” legitimacy to interview Deen? Totally missing the point.

      And the point is that during a deposition for a lawsuit against hers and her brother’s Bubba’s company, Deen clearly implicated herself a woman of very backward, Old South racial attitudes.

      That *was* her day in court. She brought this on herself. It went far beyond using the dreaded n-word one time 30 years ago. People start looking into it. Whaddya know, she said some other questionable things during other interviews in the past. A fuller picture emerges. Deen then bungles a round of apologies and sees how quickly things can go sideways on you when you do that. Her advertisers and sponsors, not wanting a spec of mud from Deen’s career death throes to besmirching their reputations, abandon her.

      Deen did this to herself, because she couldn’t forever hide her attitude. Especially in the courtroom where PR flacks and handlers have zero control over the outcome. Is the media frenzy ridiculous? Absolutely, but not surprising. The media is about entertainment, not news. Has been for years.

    5. Deen is from the Old South. Fact. And with that comes her family and friends and her upbringing. You might not think that she has tried to transcend that over the years and to learn and grow, but I do. However, it’s hard to grow when large portions of the population see nothing wrong with bludgeoning a person with said past, which includes things that are very much out of their control.

      I’m not sure if you’ve ever had screw-up relatives who you love deeply, who you try and steer towards a better path, but despite your best efforts they continue to stumble. My guess is that “Bubba” is probably not as far along the road to redemption as Paula, and that she had a difficult time trying to use her successes to benefit him (spiritually and professionally).

      I think your “fuller picture” is actually rather distorted. I think your own particular biases had you looking through an Old South fun house mirror from the get go. We’ll agree to disagree on this one.

    6. If she is using her “Old South” attitudes as tools in racism against some of her and her brother’s employees; that is exactly the point. That accusation is why people started digging into her past. If her fuller pattern emerges as you say and remains a pattern today- then she deserves what comes to her. Matt Lauer defining racism, and stupid things said in the life of a 64 yr old woman are not her day in court. You could probably make a different picture of me with dumb things that came out of my mouth at some point too- the vast majority of which from the first half of my life; all I’m saying is lets see how the suit plays out now, Deen’s actions in the present day.

  6. this was disgusting, Paula Deen shouldn’t be going through this. it wasn’t like she said 3 weeks ago. it was 30-40 years ago. it was different times back then. for her whole career to be ruined and all these companies to end their relationships with her is goddamn ridiculous. Food Network and the like should be ashamed of themselves

    1. I know that on a wide range of issues I am not the same person I was 17 years ago. I am not a perfect person (none of us are), but I think it would be incredibly unfair if someone tried to use a stupid or mean I did almost two decades ago to impugn my character today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s