SAVANNAH, GA (AP) — Watching Paula Deen's cooking show was a weekend ritual for Marilynne Wilson, who says she's furious at the Food Network for dumping the comfort-food queen after she acknowledged using racial slurs in the past.
"I was shocked. I thought she'd get a fair trial," Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., said Saturday after stopping to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah restaurant. "I think the Food Network jumped the gun."
A day after announcing that it's dropping Deen from its roster of celebrity cooks, the cable network was served heaping portions of Southern fried outrage by her fans.
Angry messages piled up Saturday on the network's Facebook page, with many Deen fans threating to change the channel for good. "So good-bye Food Network," one viewer wrote. "I hope you fold like an accordion!!!"
The decision to drop Deen, whose daytime shows have been a Food Network fixture since 2002, came two days after disclosure of a recent court deposition in which Deen was asked under oath if she had ever used the N-word. "Yes, of course," 66-year-old Deen said, though she added, "It's been a very long time."
Wilson's friend Debbie Brown said the Food Network is "basically convicting" Deen. "They should have waited until it goes to court," she said.
The fallout may not end with Food Network. At least two other companies that do business with Deen say they're keeping a close eye on the controversy. Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which has Deen's restaurants in some of its casinos, said Friday that it "will continue to monitor the situation." Publisher Ballantine, which has a new Deen book scheduled to roll out this fall, used similar words.