10:14 AM EDT, June 25, 2013
Paula Deen's outraged sons insist that their mom is no racist. Jamie and Bobby Deen spoke out for the first time since the uproar over their mom using the N-word in the past.
Bobby said, "Neither one of our parents ever taught us to be bigoted towards any other person for any reason."
"This is ridiculous,” said Jamie. “It's completely absurd to think that there is an environment of racism in our business."
Bobby said that word was never a part of their home life. "That word, that horrifying, terrible word that exists, and I abhor it coming from any person, is not in my vocabulary. It's definitely not in my brother's vocabulary. It's not in my mother's vocabulary. We were not raised in a home where that word was used."
Forty-five-year-old Jamie and 43-year-old Bobby are also TV chefs and heirs to the family business. They say Lisa Jackson, the former restaurant manager who's suing their mom, is out for one thing: money.
Bobby said, "Frankly, I’m disgusted by the entire thing because it began as extortion and it has become character assassination."
The Deen brothers opened up in an exclusive interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo. Chris asked, "What do you say to people who believe that your mother is a racist?"
"That's simply not true,” replied Bobby.
Now, big names in the TV community are rallying around Paula Deen.
Kathy Lee Gifford said, "I've been in that position, where I've been accused of something horrendous that wasn't true at all, and it takes a long time to get your reputation back. I feel for her. It may all be true, but the point is, we don't know yet."
Whoopi Goldberg said on The View, "I don't think anybody actually thinks she's a racist racist. I think that she is a product of the environment she grew up in, and I think, just like for a lot of people, that word is something that they don't think about."
And best-selling author Anne Rice wrote on her Facebook page, "What's happening with Paula Dean? Wow, this looks like a crucifixion... aren't we becoming something of a lynch mob culture?"
But Joan Rivers isn't buying it. She said, "I think what she did was outrageous, but I don't understand why she saying the N-word she got fired, and Mel Gibson by saying [expletive] went to the Golden Globes with Jodie Foster. So I think we have to get our rules in order."
And we're learning more about the accusations raining down on Deen from attorney Robert Patillo, who's investigating conditions at Deen's restaurants. "One individual told us that while working at Ms. Deen's restaurant, Uncle Bubba’s, that one of the managers at the restaurant referred to him as quote-on-quote, 'a monkey.'"
Deen will appear on the Today Show tomorrow morning for an interview with Matt Lauer that could make or break her career.
INSIDE EDITION spoke to image consultant Marvet Bitto who said, "Paula Deen is largely loved for having a brass, big mouth. We should see that Paula Deen, and we should see that Paula Deen be honest, transparent, and proactive in offering her audience a reason why these words have been spoken."