By Justin Mannato - Varney & Co. Producer
Your enemies come with smiles. And fried chicken. Paula Deen: Evil Genius has one of the biggest, warmest, down-home, welcoming southern smiles on the planet. I admit, I have never watched her show. But I have purchased some of her cookware as gifts, seen her guest judge on Top Chef, and watched her countless appearances on morning news shows like Fox and Friends. In other words, I'd have to live trapped under Paula Deen: Evil Genius herself not to know who she is.
Here are the facts about her and her recent diabetes revelation as I see them: Paula Deen: Evil Genius has made millions of dollars cooking and promoting unhealthy food. Restaurants, cookbooks, tv shows, endorsements. She was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago and kept promoting those foods. She claims she kept it a secret because she didn't know enough about diabetes to talk about it. Three years later, she finally knows enough to talk about it AND endorse a diabetes drug at the same time. Throw in this: her son has his own show based on how to make healthier versions of his mom's dishes.
So the family business is southern cooking with a heaping helping of hypocrisy on the side. Forgive me if I think this is all a bunch of bull, dredged in flour, fried in butter, and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Let’s be clear: I am not a nanny-stater like Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York. We all choose which foods we want to buy, cook, and eat. Operative word: choose. I don’t think Paula Deen: Evil Genius should go away. I applaud her rags-to-riches story and admire her as an example of a great capitalist. But something in her kitchen just stinks to me. And it’s not the lasagna sandwich. (Really? Lasagna sandwich? When would this ever be appropriate? After your first colonoscopy? That is, of course, assuming things go well.)
Last time I checked, deep frying mac and cheese is perfectly legal. Potentially lethal, but legal nonetheless. And as a free-market capitalist, I also support her profiting from a drug endorsement. More power to her. But I also support my right to call her a hypocrite for selling an unhealthy lifestyle and then selling a drug that treats a disease emblematic of an unhealthy lifestyle. While I am told she regularly tells her viewers to enjoy her recipes in moderation, she has to bear SOME responsibility as a public figure. Even if her reputation takes a hit as a result.
Paula Deen: Evil Genius seems like a nice woman. But like I said above, your enemies come with smiles. And I simply do not trust someone who sells unhealthy food while secretly fighting diabetes.
Last week, I made chicken thighs for my family. We enjoy chicken thighs because they’re tastier. They’re tastier because they’re fattier and thus juicier. Because they’re fattier, I usually brown them in a little olive oil and roast them in the oven. Or I just grill them. But this night I decided to sauté them in butter. I thought, “What the hell.” Of course, they were delicious. My wife and I were dipping our bread in the pan to sop up all of the drippings. My daughter loved it too.
That was one night. As the cook in my house, I am armed with the knowledge of what is and is not good for my family to eat on a regular basis. So is Paula Deen: Evil Genius. I chose butter for one night. She chose secrecy for three years, and then cashed in. She may be as sweet and as American as apple pie, but I just wouldn’t trust a thing she says. Or eat anything coming out of her kitchen.
- Behind the Scenes