Donald Sterling has a Paula Deen problem. After getting in trouble for racist comments about African Americans last year, the Queen of Butter and Oil undertook a public-relations campaign that put the damage in damage control. But Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper made Deen’s sit-down with Matt Lauer look like the model of contrition.
At the start of the interview, Sterling begged forgiveness. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt.” The exiled Los Angeles Clippers owner repeatedly told Cooper that he is not a racist. He denied saying anything derogatory about black people. In fact, he told the CNN anchor that he doesn’t talk smack about anyone. And then he proceeded to talk smack about Magic Johnson, the man whose Instagram pic with V. Stiviano set off Sterling’s racist tirade about her “associating with black people.”
Sterling: What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?. . . He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in south L.A.?
Cooper: I think he has HIV. He doesn’t acually have full-blown AIDS.
Sterling: Well, what kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV and — is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? I’m telling you he doesn’t do anything. . . . He does nothing. It’s all talk. . . .
Do you know what I do? I spend millions on giving away and helping minorities. Does [Johnson] do that? That’s one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African Americans — maybe I will get in trouble again — they don’t want to help anybody.
What has Magic Johnson really done for Children’s Hospital, [where] kids are lying in the hallways? They are sick. They need a bed. What has he done for any hospital? What has he done for any group? I don’t know. Maybe he’s done a lot.
After her disastrous interview with Lauer and her culinary empire in tatters, Deen disappeared for a spell. Sterling ought to do the same. Go in the background, as he advised Johnson. Actually, Sterling should do more. He should stop talking, sell his team and take the money and run. Far, far away.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj