The Talker: Is the reaction to Paula Deen overly critical?

The Talker: Is the reaction to Paula Deen overly harsh?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Thursday was another bad day for celebrity chef and entrepreneur Paula Deen.

Her $100 million-a-year media and merchandise empire is crumbling under the weight of Deen's racially insensitive remarks and a PR damage control effort that seems to have made things worse.

Three more companies announced Thursday they're ending, suspending, or phasing out business with Deen.

Target, Home Depot, and the pharmaceutical drug-maker Novo Nordisk are the latest of a long list of businesses to distance themselves from Deen.

One analyst estimate's Deen's business revenue has been cut in half, and within the next year could be at 20 percent of what it was before the scandal.

People who are still supporting Deen--and there's a significant number of them--say the scandal is overdone.

It all started after Deen's testimony in a lawsuit that accused her of racism was made public. When asked if ever, in her life, she had used the "n-word" she replied: "yes, of course."

She also came off as nostalgic for the era of slavery when talking about wanting to plan a "southern plantation wedding" with food servers who are, "middle aged black men with white jackets and bow ties."

She said she did not mean anything derogatory.

Things compounded when her attempts to explain herself came off, at various times, as contrived, unapologetic, accusatory, defiant, and just inconsistent.

From the get-go, the media and people on social media were there to pick Deen and her missteps apart.

We asked an expert in media and media psychology if the scale of the rebuke against Deen is out of proportion. He said reactions to almost everything in our culture is out of proportion.

One of Deen's mistakes, he said, was not knowing that.

"What she did was stupid and it was also offensive," says psychologist Dr. Stuart Fischoff. "And it was also something which she should know more about. That's the contract you sign when you become a celebrity. That you have to be aware of how you walk, talk and think and act."

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