Current and former staffers who have worked for embattled Food Network star Paula Deen are taking to social media to defend her and attack the media for its coverage of the scandal around her admitted use of a racial epithet in the past.
"I can say with certainty that I have never witnessed her say or do anything that could be construed as racist or bigoted," wrote Brianna Beaudry Blagg, who worked as a producer for Deen. "Paula has proved herself to be a warm, caring, compassionate person, with close friends of all races and sexual orientations."
Blagg acknowledged Deen is flawed, but added she is being unfairly condemned by a media that -- like a shark -- senses blood in the water.
"I find it disturbing the way her words are being distorted in our scandal-hungry 'headline instead of the whole story' media culture, and the sheep-like angry-mob cruelty that goes along with that."
Becky Prescott, who has worked with Deen for seven years, said on Facebook that she is "nothing like what the media is portraying."
Charlise Holmes, an African American former production assistant for Deen, said she spent two years on set with "access to everything" and "never once felt disrespected" and that every interaction was pleasant. Holmes said she read Deen's deposition in which the chef acknowledges using the N-word but "still has love" for her.
"It's no more shocking than stuff I've heard other people say, or have said myself," Holmes said. "Does that make it OK? Maybe not, but I'm glad my junk isn't out there for the world to judge."
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
For the record: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Charlise Holmes was a producer for Paula Deen. She was a production assistant.
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