HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Barbara Walters vs. Paula Deen

Since Barbara Walters is typically very diplomatic, she surprised me the other day by being rather hard on Paula Deen, who was appearing on The View to promote her new cookbook of lunchesand other meals aimed at children. Walters cited the increasing problem of childhood obesity and criticized Deen for promoting unhealthy eating. Deen couldn't defend herself much, other than to state that these dishes should not be eaten on a daily basis. I felt a little bad for Paula - sure, her recipes are loaded with fat and sugar, but she's not the one responsible for what America's children are eating. Some poor urban areas don't even have supermarkets, forcing people to buy whatever is stocked in small bodegas (with little fresh meat and produce), even if they'd like and can afford to buy unprocessed foods. Then there are people with more money who prefer the convenience of prepared and fast food, haven't trained their children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and readily give in to kids' demands for fried, salty, and heavily-sweetened foods. Children won't be purchasing Deen's books; if their parents do, and prepare the recipes regularly, the onus is on them.

There is a rumor that Walters plans to leave the program when her contract runs out next summer. If she is in fact planning to retire (she's 79), perhaps she has decided she no longer needs to pull her punches.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. To me Paula Deen is on the top and for Barbara needs to lay off of people and not be so mean to them

    1. "Children won't be purchasing Deen's books; if their parents do, and prepare the recipes regularly, the onus is on them. "

      Agree the ownership is on the eater, or in the parents case the propvider.

      Also my family was right on the poverty line growing up. Still my Mom grew a garden and the chicken night one would become a pasta dish night two and a soup night three. Though I'm sure we did not live up to the Alice Waters goal my parents did well at cooking home cooked reasonably healthy meals and making sure we sat down for dinner.

      I think your nutritional paterns growing up deffinently have an impact. Reality TV ..not so much. :) (I'm only in my thirtees so it wasn't that long ago)

      1. I didn't see it but it sounds like Babs was a tad obnoxious. Sure there is an obesity problem but Paula Deen isn't forcing everyone to eat enormous portions of crap. We as a country were doing that long before PD was a household name. All of the fine reasons you listed above are the problem, not Paula.

        I am admittedly not a fan of Paula's style of cooking (processed stuff, too much of my most hated food item - mayo!) but I wouldn't blame her or any person for the way we collectively eat. I admire Jaques Torres' skills as a pastry chef but I am not eating pastries and chocolates every night. Moderation, as always, is key.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mels

          "Paula Deen isn't forcing everyone to eat enormous portions of crap"

          She may not be forcing anyone to, but she is certainly suggesting it. I think she has some responsibility as a celebrity cook, after all, these people look up to her. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about personal responsibility, but if you are going to market a cookbook aimed at feeding children, well then, be responsible about it.

          Oh, and Barbara just turned 80!

        2. Would Walters have given Julia Child grief? Child famously said that if you're afraid of butter, use cream.
          The recipes in cookbooks like Dean's aren't meant to be eaten three-meals-a-day, every day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MakingSense

            Truly another era with Julia Child, however I do not recall seeing an abundance of fat French women last time I was in Europe.. I would mention that Graham Kerr, the illustriously flamboyant television host of the 60's and 70's refuses to allow his old programs to be aired due to the harmful nature of the recipes. That and he was crocked half the time.

            I look back at old 50's television programming and see the likes of Jack Benny hawking Lucky Strikes. Would he do that today if he were alive? Doubtful, and yes illegal. Different era. Chances are half our mother drank profusely while they were pregnant with us to take the 'edge off'.

            On the other hand, Paula is simply over the top nasty. There definitely is no reason for this type of behaviour in a grown woman who seemingly has her senses about her.

          2. I saw the segment is was a little weird all round. BW wasn't overly obnoxious or mean. Paula had every opportunity to defend her self but chose not to. She put herself out there by hawking this 'family friendly' children's book she created. Deen suggests serving kids cheesecake for breakfast. BW had a very valid point. Deen has made a career by creating rich over the top foods.

            BW had been trying to speak but kept getting cut off by Paula and her shtick. She actually look a little grossed out that while in the middle of serving the food the apparently endless number of co-hosts. Paula sat there for close to a minute blatantly licking her fingers and hand. That was simply discussing.

            As for the Julia Child quote, not sure of the context, and it may have been said in a time when values and concerns for health were different. And you really can't (seriously) compare Julia Child to Paula Deen.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Withnail42

              Paula Dean has a shtick that she has built her career on. She's selling a book based on that. The show's bookers knew that, and so did Walters. If she didn't approve, there was a polite way to ask questions, but that's a common failing of this show. They attack people they don't personally approve of.
              Dean's a pro and wasn't going to be pulled off focus. Dean basically ignored her and went with what sells for HER. Dean's fans no doubt loved it and will buy the book. Mission accomplished.

              As cooks, there is no comparison between Child and Dean. Get serious.
              But Child was effectively blowing off irrelevant criticism in a single quip. She preached the gospel of moderation her entire career.
              People make food choices. They can stuff themselves with butter and cream, or eat cheesecake for breakfast every day, or eat those things in moderation or on occasion as special treats.

              1. re: MakingSense

                The Shtick has evolved or snowballed over the few years. I happen to have enjoyed old school Paula when she talked (with much less of an accent) about Southern cooking in a straightforward manner. She has morphed into this glutinous hillbilly/naughty grandma act.

                And Barbara Walters is a journalist who has the right to ask questions on her own show. Perhaps She wanted Deen on to ask that particular question. Asking a relevant question, that you may not personally like, is by no means an attack.

                As for the Child quote what was the context? She was not out hawking a children's cookbook. She might have been discussing a cooking technique or alternative ways to prepare a recipe.

                1. re: Withnail42

                  You're preaching to the choir on Paula Dean. I'm no fan. Her cooking is a disgrace to the South, in my opinion.
                  But Dean is on a book tour. She's promoting her new cookbook, for better or worse, and she's media savvy. Walters creates controversy by asking barbed (no pun intended) questions, and that's her stock in trade. Dean wasn't getting sidetracked.
                  She doesn't write books or do TV shows about health. She does butter without apology.

                  Health concerns over diet are not new. Julia Child could have said that butter/cream thing at any time over the past half-century, and it may well have been related to the publication of Mastering the Art at a time when Americans were being told to switch to margarine for health reasons back in the 60s (if I remember correctly.) Ick!
                  Maybe Child was wrong. After all, butter and cream may well have lead directly to her death at 92. Or maybe it was the red wine.

                  1. re: MakingSense

                    No, MS, I think she once-too-often ingested leg of lamb that she had dropped on the floor, picked up and brushed off with the apron she had used to wipe her hands after cracking eggs. ;-)

                    Gee, I miss Julia.

                  2. re: Withnail42

                    I totally agree about the Paul Deen morphing.

                    But, Barbara Walters as a journalist on that show is a bit of a joke. They all yell over each other, to get a word in edgewise. The View, is not 60 minutes, but their viewers seem to enjoy the format. I don't. And Barbara asking Paula about children and obesity wasn't relevant, because Deen isn't trying to do what Jamie Olivier is and conquer childhood obesity. Paula wants parents and children to cook together on weekends and have some fun. On one of Oprah's show last season, Oprah asked Paula about all the fat she was using in her recipe she was making for Oprah. Paula's answer was "I'm your cook, not your doctor"! I am not a fan of Paula Deen's recipes or shtick either.

                    And BW has quiet a shtick too, much different than PD, but still a shtick. JMO.

                  3. re: MakingSense

                    As I recall Julia's quote -
                    "Everything in moderation, including moderation." She lived past the age of 90, eating butter and cream, so it's hard to argue with her philosophy.

                2. I did not see it, but have read a couple accounts of it. I think the gist of the argument was legit to bring up - there is an obesity problem, and Paula Deen's cooking is notoriously full of fat. However, I (as parent) choose what to feed my kids, and if I want to make a recipe or 2 out of her book (never seen it), that is my choice. Sounds like Barbara was a bit harsh. Paula is probably tired of defending herself - she is always getting called out for the butter. Cheesecake for breakfast? Not here, but I do use real butter and a lot of it in some things. Well-rounded, balanced diets over the long term are the goal - if you have a little more fat at one meal that is ok, as long as there are more steamed veggies at another. At least in my house.

                  1. I wish both of them would ride off into the Sunset....Music up...Roll credits....Fade to black...The End!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Uncle Bob

                      Supposedly, Paula is "riding off into the sunset" on a new TV show which will be co-hosted by Kate Gosselin. If so, I think that will definitely be the end for her.

                      1. re: SusieQQ

                        I'll be surprised if Kate Gosselin's role is very big - Paula isn't dumb, and has to realize that Kate will sink her.

                        1. re: SusieQQ

                          Kate Gosselin & Paula??? What an interesting partnership (if tabloid journalism is your thing). Kate Gosselin, from what I understand, serves only organic foods to her litter. I wouldn't think her and Paula would have much in common food-wise.

                      2. I don't care much for either but Barbara Walter should get off her soapbox, she is mean and in this instance bullied her guest. Very disrespectful and plain wrong.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dolly52

                          I saw a part of the segment, and was surprised that Barbara made such an accusation. She's WELL acquainted ahead of time with who is going to be featured on the View, and if she had an issue with Paula Dean, she should have just excused herself from that segment, or not allowed PD to be booked (so to speak) at all.

                          Its no secret that Paula Deen is all about the butter and sugar. NONE of her recipes are meant to be eaten every day. Im not going to go into a screed about child obesity, but Paula Dean is NOT to blame for it.

                          As for Kate Gosselin -- I've seen WAY more of this woman than anyone needs. Go home, boot out the trashy nanny and take care of your own kids. Enough already.

                          1. re: Cheflambo

                            I agree about Gosselin--enough already! Go home to your 8 young'ins. That is one reality show that shouldn't have been made and I get upset when America/media rewards people like that by courting them like this. The View has jumped the shark, that's for certain. Maybe, however, Gosselin will replace the unbearable Elizabeth Hasselbeck. I've also heard but not in any detail that Paula Deen and Gosselin will be cohosts of some show?

                            1. re: Cheflambo

                              Agreed about Kate Gosselin. TMI, IMHO. There is absolutely nothing about that woman that interests me. I could also care less about Jon Gosselin.

                          2. I did see it and I found Barbara Walters to be rude. I think that she has food issues herself (she has always been thin, especially in recent years) and was grossed out by the idea of having to sit there chowing on everything. That said, it was kind of gross and Paula went too far in the other direction to openly savor the food in front of her and even called hubby Michael up to the stage to get a piece of cake. [But maybe it was a deliberate attempt of Paula to get back at Barbara's inappropriate remark.]

                            Yes, childhood obesity is epidemic but every cookbook that ever has catered to children has some kind of rich dessert or treat in it (well, maybe not Mollie Katzen's). The problem in our national diet is not sugar or butter but the "super-sized" culture we live in that has created a consumer frenzy for huge portions. We also have too many processed foods, a reliance on high fructose corn syrup in so many products, and a lack of moderation. I tell my kids all the time that dessert as a kid was occasional and then a small portion (like a glass Pyrex custard dish of chocolate pudding, which was a half cup).

                            I don't like most of Paula Deen's recipes and their reliance on boxed cake mixes, or any mix. But many of them are good. However, she is a self-made, charming person who deserves her success. I believe her message with her cookbooks is that she just wants to bring kids into the kitchen with their parents.

                            Barbara should have discussed the obesity epidemic in a "hot topic" or an entire show devoted to the issue. Going after Paula Deen was not being a polite host.

                            1. I've revived this thread to mention that Paula was on The View again the other day, but it was a day when Barbara was not there. She was promoting some sort of competition that's happening on her website. Once again, her husband was in the front row. A year ago, when Paula was the celebrity guest on the radio show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", she mentioned that her husband was doing the Nutri-System diet program and planned to write a book about losing 100# while being married to Paula Deen. Guess that didn't work out too well, since he looks about the same size as he was last September.

                              1. Dang! When I saw the title of this thread, I was hoping it was a promo for a warm-up bout on the next UFC broadcast!-

                                1 Reply
                                1. Ah, the bastion of all that is good and true with the world, good OLD Barb.

                                  "other than to state that these dishes should not be eaten on a daily basis."

                                  As much as I don't like the new and improved Deen, she has the most important point of all. As the estimable Julia Child said before her, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.

                                  The fad is even more pervasive than it was last September -- people thinking they have to tell other people how to eat. Witness the newly crowned hero Mr. Oliver.

                                  Next thing you know, restaurants and manufacturers will be cutting down on the portions and keeping the price the same (and raising it) so that the poor mindless people won't have to, oh I don't know, take home some of their food or not eat everything that is in a container.

                                  Oh. Wait.

                                  Never mind.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: anonymouse1935

                                    Wow. You really have it out for Jamie Oliver, don't you? I can't see how trying to get parents, teachers AND kids to learn to eat more healthily is TELLING people how to eat. He's not doing that.

                                    But this is about Paula Deen. Someone who doesn't really know a lot about moderation - or at least doesn't show it on her show.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      Don't you know there is no happy medium--LOL? We have our Jamie Haters (which upsets me to no end--this man is trying to get people to eat healthier). We have our Paula Haters (I'm not a fan--so I don't watch her--I like the old addage..if you have nothing nice to say.....). If a celebchef uses too much butter and fatty stuff--they are evil. If a celebchef is trying to get people to not use too much butter and fatty stuff--they are evil. It is a sad state of affairs. Ms. Walters, as the host of this View show, should be well-aware of the platform her guests bring to the show. She should realize that whether she gushes over Paula or eschews Paula--the publicity for Deen is still going to be great.

                                    2. re: anonymouse1935

                                      I think that the most important thing with the way kids eat today is the huge amount of processed and artificial fatty foods they eat. When I was a kid (not that long ago), we had wonderbread for lunch, and oreos and maybe a few chips in a baggie once in awhile. But breakfast was homemade, eggs, or oatmeal or french toast with milk or juice. Now it's a breakfast bar or sugary cereal washed down with some processed juice blend. School lunches when I was kid might have been bad, but they were real food - like roast chicken, canned vegetables, etc., or that wonderbread pb&j from home. Now it's chicken fingers and french fries. Dinner was home cooked every night - a tv dinner was a super treat. Now my kids' friends have fast food take out or reheated frozen dinners most nights. My oldest still doesn't appreciate that I make real food for dinner every day. But my 16 year old and her boyfriend eat as much as they can at home. My kids do not have a weight problem, and I use real butter! I make cookies once a week, and sometimes store bought cookies make their way into my grocery basket (we love oreos) . But those 'grocery store' cookies are kind of a treat. It's about moderation, I am sure PD is right.

                                      I think it's the processed, fake food our kids are eating that is the problem.

                                      1. re: jeanmarieok

                                        I agree with jeanmarieok, also the volume of sugar consumed through soda is a huge problem too. I cook with butter and cream also and find moderate amounts add a lot to a dish. You don't have to drop whole sticks of butter into a sauce.
                                        It's one thing to use butter as a component in your cooking but glorifying mass consumption of it is as irresponsible as if you encouraged people to have an after dinner cigarette.

                                        1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                          Cal ... I dont think anyone is glorifying mass consumption of butter. Paula knows what tastes good, and she wants to share her recipes with the world. She doesn't advocate eating like that every day. NO ONE DOES.

                                          And aside from the fact that both Paula Deen and Jamie Oliver are appearing on separate shows on the Food Network, they really dont have anything in common. Jamie has a specific goal -- he is sincere in his effort to teach kids to enjoy healthier choices at their meals. He wants to teach the ADULTS who are responsible for that food to prepare healthier versions of what kids WILL eat. If you've watched any of his recent shows, you'll see that the ADULTS are more of a challenge than the kids.

                                          School lunch administrators have dug in and refused to offer anything beyond what the government will minimally provide. One scene in particular stands out in my mind -- Jamie sits at a table with a school administrator and asks what they serve and why they serve it. The administrator plops down a 3-inch thick "book" of guidelines from the USDA. "Who is that?" Jamie asks "United States Department of Agriculture" she replies. "Is that your boss?" asks Jamie. The administrator ignores the question and insists that THIS is why they serve what they do. I think at the end of the scene Jamie pushes the "book" away and tells her that "this is way too academic" and launches his plan .....

                                          Last week I saw "Supersize Me" for the first time. I think this film should be shown at every PTA meeting at every school in every state in this glorious country of ours. If parents really understood how much sugar, fat and cholesterol was in fast food, and the effect that it had on the grown man in the film, they would definitely curtail at least some of the easy/fast choices they make with their kid's meals. And I am by NO means knocking fast food for the convenience that it is -- I like my occasional Whopper or Big Mac too -- but a steady diet of easy food and lack of physical activity is what's making our kids fat. Not Paula Deen.

                                          1. re: Cheflambo

                                            Er.. while you're feeding propaganda to the children, will you also include the documentary "Portion Size Me", created by Dr. James Painter, chair of Eastern Illinois University's School of Family and Consumer Sciences? He had two students go on a completely fast food diet for a month, getting all their food from fast food restaurants and .. wait for it .. gas stations.

                                            Of course, with no ideological axe to grind, the students didn't order Super Big Gulps and extra big portions of everything. Instead, they ordered appropriate portions for their size and weight (one volunteer was 254 lbs, the other 108). The result? Both students lost weight over the month, and their blood lipids improved.

                                            Spurlock PURPOSEFULLY consumed over 5,000 calories a day while eschewing all forms of exercise. He chose to drink sugar laden soft drinks instead of milk, water, coffee, tea, or diet soft drinks. He chose to eat fries and onion rings instead of salads. He never declined an offer to supersize his meal (note: he never asked to supersize, but would never decline the offer; in the event, of the 90 meals he had, only 9, or 10%, were supersized, which suggests that the meme that McD's aggressively pushes the super size option is significantly exaggerated.) And then it's all McD's fault that he gets fat and his health goes bad.

                                            I used to eat frequently at BK (I like their burgers better). I would order a Whopper Jr., no cheese, extra tomato, a side salad with the light Italian dressing, and either a diet soft drink or coffee. According to BK's nutritional info, that's 430 calories, 22 g of fat (6 sat), 37 g carbs, 4g fibre, and 17 g of protein. I know that's not the healthiest meal in the world, but if I ate that 3 times a day, that's not even 1,500 calories, which is pretty low for a 200 lb man. I think I'd lose weight on a month of these, although I acknowledge I'd be taking vitamin and fibre supplements if I tried it.

                                            Bottom line: you have to take responsibility for what you shove in your face. You can make bad choices, absolutely. You can also make not so bad choices. If I go to Wendy's, I'll get a baked potato with sour cream, and a small chili (which I then dump over the potato). 510 cal, 82 carb, 10 fat, 11 fibre, and 22 protein, plus 70% of daily vitamin C, 30% iron, 15% calcium, and 10% vitamin A. Contrast that to one Big Mac (no side): 540 cal, 44 carb, 29 fat, 3 fibre, 24 protein. 4% Vit C, 10% Vit A, 35% iron, 25% calcium. I don't see why it's McD's fault if so many people choose the less healthy options. (And in point of fact, I hardly ever go into McD's any more, precisely because they don't have as many good nutrition choices as I can get at BK or Wendy's).

                                            There's a difference between education and brainwashing. I think Jamie proves his points using the former; Spurlock, like Michael Moore and Al Gore, prefers the latter. Keep it away from my children, please.

                                            1. re: FrankD

                                              The movie was actually quite fair and well done.

                                              He was quite open about not declining a supersize request. The reason were clearly stated in the film.

                                              I believe the other criteria set up was that he had to eat every item on the menu at least once.

                                              At the end of the day he was eating what they served including their biggest sellers.

                                              1. re: FrankD

                                                Interesting how the morphed into a Fast door thread, but I disagree personally. I would never go to a Wendy's and get a baked potato or chili or a salad just about anyone can make much better options at home). For me the whole point of going to a fast food place it to go for the gusto and grease. I am not sure I have ever gone to Wendy's for example and NOT ordered a frosty along with my meal. For me moderate means not easting at these places often (only once or twice a month MAX). I am lucky however as I love to cook, have access to good ingredients and moderates prices, etc. Many people are too busy, live in places that do not offer good access to good food, are less fortunate in regards to cash flow so I am glad there are ways to stay relatively healthy eating food from bodegas and what not.

                                                1. re: FrankD

                                                  Frank ... I applaud your good eating habits and conciencious choices. However, I am curious as to where you are getting your nutritional information. I have found that those stats, when provided by the purveyors, are not always correct. True, when you are standing at the counter deciding what to have, you have nothing but THEIR analysis to go by. But I take the nutritional information that fast food places provide with a (teeny!) grain of salt. Keep doing what you're doing, however! (And I agree with you -- BK burgers ARE tastier, and require fewer "add-ons" for flavor)

                                                  1. re: Cheflambo

                                                    There's a documentary out called "Fat Head" which is basically the reverse of "Super Size Me"--Tom Naughton, who wrote and directed, ate nothing but fast food for 30 days. However, he wouldn't drink soda, he'd discard top buns on double Quarter Pounders, no fries, that sort of thing. He ended up losing weight and improving his cholesterol profile. He also debunks the "Spurlock ate 4000 calories a day" idea by laying out the food Spurlock claimed to have eaten every day (which most of the time wasn't even "super-sized") to show there was no way in hell he consumed that many calories. He tried to get an interview with Spurlock but got shot down. There's clips on YouTube, and here's his food log for the 30 days: