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Pierce: Deen is out, Sheen is in? TV just isn’t fair

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In this publicity image released by NBC, celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show, wednesday, June 26, 2013 in New York. Deen dissolved into tears during a "Today" show interview Wednesday about her admission that she used a racial slur in the past. The celebrity chef, who had backed out of a "Today" interview last Friday, said she was not a racist and was heartbroken by the controversy that began with her own deposition in a lawsuit. Deen has been dropped by the Food Network and as a celebrity endorser by Smithfield Foods. (AP Photo/NBC, Peter Kramer)

What does it mean that Charlie Sheen is still on TV and Paula Deen is not?

Nothing good about TV.

Deen was dropped by the Food Network after she admitted in a deposition that she used racial slurs and tolerated racial jokes at restaurants she owns.

And I am NOT defending her. You can argue whether her punishment fit her crime; you can argue whether her apology was sincere — but she did apologize.

Sheen, on the other hand, remains gleefully unrepentant as TV continues to enable his bad behavior. He’s used the n-word on multiple occasions, including a voice-mail to an ex-wife that went public.

Just last week, he fired co-star Selma Blair after she questioned his work ethic on the ironically titled sitcom “Anger Management.” And he did it via a profane text message in which he used a particularly offensive anti-female term.

Deen used a vile, racist slur years ago and she’s off TV. Sheen continually uses the n-word along with a vile, misogynistic slur and he’s still employed.

Yes, we’re talking about different channels. But TV has a history of double standards.

In 2004, Martha Stewart was off TV after she was convicted of conspiracy and lying to investigators probing insider trading. She spent five months in prison.

As she was awaiting sentencing, so was actor Tom Sizemore, who had an unfortunate habit of beating up women. In addition to a variety of drug charges.

As this was happening, CBS signed Sizemore to the short-lived Rob Lowe series “Dr. Vegas” and seemed not at all concerned that he was a convicted felon who beat up women.

The then-president of CBS Entertainment said the network was “well aware of his situation before we cast him” and called him “a fine actor” who would “add to the show tremendously. “

Her big worry was “whether he’s going to be available or not,” what with a pending jail sentence. For beating up women.

Sheen has his own history of violence against women. He disputes many of the allegations, but has twice pleaded guilty or no contest to domestic violence.

Yet he never got kicked off “Two and a Half Men” until he got into a huge fight with that show’s producer, the studio and the network.

Occasionally, there is some justice in TV. “Anger Management” ratings have plummeted. From 5.5 million viewers when it debuted a year ago, it’s down to about 1.2 million this season.

“Two and a Half Men,” by the way, averaged 13.2 million viewers this past season without Sheen.

The one who can really declare she’s, um, winning is Blair. She’ll be paid for all 100 episodes of “Anger” that FX ordered — and she doesn’t have to work with Sheen anymore.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

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