Harrah`s Joliet drops Paula Deen, Rev. Jackson offers support - Fox 2 News Headlines

Harrah`s Joliet drops Paula Deen, Rev. Jackson offers support

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Days after the Food Network kicked Paula Deen out the kitchen, the embattled chef is not going down without a fight. She took to the Today Show to talk about it.

"I've had to hold friends in my arms while they sobbed because they know what's being said about me is not true and I'm having to comfort them and tell them it's going to be alright," Deen said on the show.

Deen defended herself against accusations of racism and she has now turned to Reverend Jesse Jackson for help.

"First of all what she did was terribly wrong by her own admission," Jackson told FOX 32 in an interview. "Two, no one is beyond redemption and our mission in part as we seek to save the soul of America is to regain, reclaim and reconstruct enough to reject…  I don't know her but my basic advice is to take ownership of the crisis."

Jackson tells FOX 32 News he was first contacted by Deen's friends earlier this week and then Deen herself. His message to the embattled celebrity chef focuses on redemption.

"We pray for her and we hope that she will follow some path of redemption," Jackson says. "She did call because she's reaching out to people because she wants help.  She's no doubt reaching out to other ministers and I think that she should.  Spiritually those who get  a ton of mercy, must be merciful."

But Deen's sponsors are not as forgiving. Despite a billboard touting her southern-style cuisine restaurant inside Harrah's Hotel and Casino in Joliet, the chain plans to rebrand and end its affiliation with Deen.

"I don't really support what she said, I just think some of it was taken out of context," 'Paula Deen's Kitchen' patron Billie Lieb says.

The massive fallout stems from a lawsuit filed by one of Deen's former employees accusing Deen of violence, discrimination and racism. In a deposition, Deen admitted using a racial slur.

"I think that it will take some time, but as long as people know that she's learned from the destructive words that she used are hurtful and people understand that she's on the path of understanding, I think people will forgive," says Dionne Williams, CEO of D. Williams Public Relations Group.

Deen's empire continues to crumble as the list of sponsors dropping Deen is growing. Wal-Mart announced it will stop selling her products.

Reverend Jackson says he would be open to a face-to-face meeting with Deen in the near future.

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