More Woes for Deen: Publicist Quits, and She Clashes with Dr. Oz

TV chef Paula Deen (Photo: Getty Images)

There’s more tumult for Paula Deen in the wake of her revelation that she has diabetes.

Her long-time publicist reportedly quit over Deen’s new deal to endorse a diabetes drug. And, in a separate story, Deen reportedly clashed with TV doc Mehmet Oz when she went on his show and he asked her about another health problem she didn’t want to talk about.

We have two reports: The first one, from The New York Post here, reports on Deen clashing with her publicist — Nancy Assuncao — over the new direction Deen is suddenly taking in her approach to food, now that Deen’s gone public with her diabetes condition. Deen, of course, is the southern kitchen queen who recently divulged that she’s been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Her illness is raising eyebrows because the TV chef is known for the unapologetically fat-laden foods she prepares and promotes in her TV shows and cookbooks. Such foods are thought to play a key role in obesity and related conditions such as diabetes. Now, in the wake of going public with her condition, Deen is making an abrupt about-face to position herself as an advocate of healthy cooking and eating — mainly because she went out and formed a new partnership as a celebrity spokesperson with a diabetes drug company — Novo Nordisk — in a deal reportedly worth $6 million.

The criticism can thus be summed up by paraphrasing the famed quotation from the old quiz show “To Tell the Truth”: Will the real Paula Deen please stand up? Whatever the answer, the deal with the drug company was reportedly the last straw for Deen’s publicist, the Post says.

Meanwhile, Deen doesn’t seem ready yet to make additional disclosures about what else might be ailing her. Apparently, she also suffers from high blood pressure, something she reportedly admitted a few years ago in a newspaper interview. But she refused to answer a question about that posed by Dr. Oz during a taping of his daytime talk show recently, according to this story.

The story indicates that Deen was so upset at being asked the question that she rose and left the stage, resulting in an hour of negotiations over the appropriateness of what is, basically, a simple question.

Our take: This Paula Deen story continues to fascinate us. All those years of pushing fatty foods — and apparently consuming them — has led to this: Serious health consequences for Paula. We happen to agree with the criticism that she seemed a little too eager to turn a serious health problem into an opportunity for profit by pouncing almost immediately on this diabetes drug deal. On the other hand, we hate to come down too hard on someone who’s sick and we hope she gets the treatment she needs to become healthy.

And if she’s changing her approach to food — abrupt as it might be — then she might help others wean themselves off fatty food too (even if she’s the one that helped get them hooked in the first place). We think that’s an opportunity worth pursuing.

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