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The Pity of Paula

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Once upon a time there was a charming woman who captured the hearts (and palates) of America. Everyone felt warm and fuzzy when they watched her television programs, people stood on line for a bite to eat at her restaurant, and even her offspring became rich and famous off her brand. And then something terrible happened.

The terrible thing was that we learned she had demonstrated racist behaviors, something that is simply not acceptable anyway, anyhow, or anywhere. And America’s favorite Southern Belle quickly fell out of favor.

Compounding her misfortune was some really bad PR advice. With a high profile media opportunity already scheduled – an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today Show – poor Paula opted to cancel last minute and take to YouTube with her own attempt at an apology.

She made a fatal error. Instead of earning forgiveness, she begged for it. Instead of holding the media in abeyance with a kind demeanor on the Today Show, she kicked the hornets’ nest by dissing the mainstream media. And so, the house of cards folded.

Paula managed to come back once before after her high calorie, fat-laden Southern lifestyle caused her blood sugar to reach Type 2 diabetic levels. In this instance, she became the scapegoat of an obese nation. Yet, Paula prevailed – paring down her recipes and her figure.

Can her food empire recover this time around? Probably not entirely. Odds are her PR counsel will advise her to jump on the Oprah Winfrey Network or a talk show hosted by an African-American. This is perhaps the worst thing she could do.

When you do the crime, do the time and don’t try pandering to those you’ve offended. Take a page from Martha Stewart’s book: a lower profile for a period of time (albeit, in her case, not on her own terms) can set the stage for a second chance.

But, for heaven’s sake, darling. Our country is built on liberty and justice for all. Don’t expect us to forget that butter really doesn’t melt in that mouth of yours.