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Is Paula Deen toast in N-word controversy?

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Galliano, who recently sat down with Charlie Rose for a rare interview, has studied Jewish history with rabbis, owned up to addiction and tried to atone, Foxman said, yet he’s struggling as Richards is to make it back professionally.

Will Deen follow up with action to back up her apologetic words?

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"I want to believe her, that she’s not that way anymore," Foxman said. "It used to be very simple rules: You say something that’s offensive, that’s hurtful and there’s a formal apology, an explanation, and depending how severe it is, you do a good deed, you volunteer, whatever. There used to be a clear path. It used to be over. That was before the Internet."

While Galliano was always considered a bad boy on the job, Deen’s ability to earn a living depends on a squeaky clean, though cheeky, reputation despite her hiding her diabetes for years, then signing on as a paid endorser of a drug for the condition while continuing to cook up deep-fried everything on TV.

The previous controversy may have dinged her, but it didn’t take her down.

"You know, this sort of thing hasn’t been a career-ender for that many people," Min said. "But she’s reliant on television, pretty much mainstream wholesome television, to prop up her brand. If you’re not on the Food Network, you just don’t have too many other places to go."

Smithfield Foods, where she had her own line of hams, also dropped her this week as a pitchwoman.

Min, Kopp, Busch and others say Deen has been her own worst PR enemy in the fallout from her race-fueled deposition, which also included her seeing the "beauty" in a Southern-style wedding she once considered for her brother, complete with formally dressed black waiters.

That and her oddly spliced video apology, later swapped out for an unedited one after she bailed on Matt Lauer and the "Today" show, "made her seem shifty, sort of erratic and strange," Min said. "She had already dug herself in by waiting three or four days before talking at all and what she finally did say dug her in a little deeper."

Sharpton knows that "we’ve all said things we’ve regretted," and he’s not particularly worried about what words Deen used long ago. "She’s being condemned for now. There’s a live lawsuit accusing her of racism and bias now and that’s what I’m concerned about," he said.

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Deen was invited back on the "Today" show Wednesday. If Sharpton had the chance to swap seats with Lauer, what would he counsel?

"I would tell her if she’s guilty of this she should be prepared like Michael Richards to lose a lot of her gigs," he said. "It’s one thing to have done something growing up in the South, or in your past. It’s another thing that in your success you continue to do that, and she like anyone else should have to pay a price if that’s what she’s done."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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