J.C. Penney, Sears Drop Paula Deen as QVC Takes "A Pause"

More retailers cut ties with the celebrity chef as home shopping giant declares she's over, but not out

By Colin Bertram
|  Friday, Jun 28, 2013  |  Updated 6:19 PM EDT
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Paula Deen's Second Apology

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Paula Deen

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Paula Deen Apologizes

Embattled Food Network star Paula Deen released a video statement addressing her past use of racial slurs, which overnight became a national scandal. In the clip, Deen appears visibly upset and at times close to tears. "I beg for your forgiveness.... please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made," she said.

Paula Deen's Second Apology

In a 46-second video posted on YouTube, Paula Deen offered up an apology for using "inappropriate, hurtful language." In this second video, Deen apologized for failing to show up for a scheduled interview on "Today" Friday to discuss her admission that she's used racial slurs in the past.
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J.C. Penney, Sears and QVC are the latest high-profile companies to distance themselves from embattled celebrity cook Paula Deen.

J.C. Penney gave no formal statement but confirmed to NBC News Friday that it would no longer carry Deen-branded merchandise.

Earlier the same day Sears announced that it too would no longer be conducting business with the queen of Southern cooking.

"After careful consideration of all available information, we have made the decision to phase out all products tied to the brand. We will continue to evaluate the situation. Our members' needs will be given first priority as we work to continue to provide quality cookware in our stores and online," read the statement from Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart stores.

Sears and J.C. Penney join Wal-mart, Home Depot, Walgreens, Target, Food Network, Smithfield Foods and Caesars Entertainment on the list of companies that have dropped Deen. Diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk has suspended its program with her as QVC had been mulling what to do.

And though Deen will no longer be appearing on future broadcasts, the home shopping giant has not shut the door entirely in her face.

QVC's CEO Mike George wrote a blog post Thursday evening saying that, "For now, we have decided to take a pause. Paula won’t be appearing on any upcoming broadcasts and we will phase out her product assortment on our online sales channels over the next few months. We all think it’s important, at this moment, for Paula to concentrate on responding to the allegations against her and on her path forward."

George goes on to acknowledge how divisive the situation currently is: "Many of you have expressed disappointment and even anger at the comments Paula has acknowledged making. Others feel equally strongly that Paula is not being treated fairly in the public debate and deserves forgiveness. Your spirited conversation reflects the complexity of the issues raised and the deep feelings surrounding them."

"Some of you may wonder whether this is a “forever” decision – whether we are simply ending our association with Paula," continues George. "We don’t think that’s how relationships work. People deserve second chances. And we always strive to do the right thing.

As Deen's empire continues to freefall many of her fans have rallied. One bright spot for the 66-year-old folksy Southern cook is that supporters have propelled her upcoming recipe book, “Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up,” to the top of the best sellers lists at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Scheduled to be released on October 15, the book is selling more copies than "Da Vinci Code" writer Dan Brown's latest, "Inferno." "Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," published in 2011, is now number two on Amazon's list.

In an Amazon review for "Deen's Southern Cooking Bible," customer Sher writes: "I don't normally buy items for a political statement but this time I have. Paula has freedom of speech and I have the power of the buck. Today I bought this book AND a box of cheerios (in support of their ad that contains a mixed race marriage). Time for American to grow up beyond the age of ten years old, get over the political correctness crap and get on with life."

Deen appeared in her first live interview on "Today" Wednesday to discuss the scandal over her use of racial slurs which were revealed during a May 17 deposition pertaining to a lawsuit filed by Lisa Jackson, a former manager of Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers own the restaurant.

In the lawsuit Jackson claims she was sexually harassed by Hiers and that Deen used the N-word around her.

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