Anthony Bourdain has hated Paula Deen for quite awhile, but since her announcement that she has diabetes and will be endorsing diabetes drugs, he’s gotten even more vocal about his distaste for her cooking and hypocritical health messages. Bourdain himself isn’t known for touting a healthy lifestyle—in fact, he almost always has a cigarette and drink within reach on his show, “No Reservations.” But if you ask me, his criticism of Miss Deen is pretty spot-on.
Hours after she announced her diabetes on the Today show, he tweeted:
Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.
When TMZ picked up the quote, they said he was calling Deen a “diabetic scam artist,” and he later clarified:
For the record: Never called anybody a “diabetic scam artist”. TMZ’s words. Not mine.
Before she officially announced that she had diabetes, Bourdain spoke with Eater about the speculations, echoing sentiments that he voiced back in August, when he called her “the most destructive person on the Food Network” due to her unhealthy recipes. On Monday, he speculated with Eater about how long she’s known about her diabetes and the hypocrisy of her cooking show:
When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 Diabetes… It’s in bad taste if nothing else. How long has she known? I suspect a very long time. On Tuesday when she announces it, it’ll be to say I just got diagnosed… Al Roker won’t be asking her how long she’s known. I don’t think people will press that issue.
Surprisingly, he was wrong: Al Roker did ask Deen how long she’d known about her diabetes, and she openly admitted that she was diagnosed three years ago. But some of his premonitions were correct; he also predicted that she’d be using her disease as a business opportunity:
Clearly this has been coming for a while. She’s been looking for ways to position herself. Is she really going to be selling the cure now? Or will she back off for a decent interval?
She told Today that she’d waited to announce it because she had nothing to “give”—i.e. sell—her fans… Which goes back to Bourdain’s point about the leg-breaking business.
Deen and others are responding to criticism by saying she’s always practiced (and preached) moderation, or with the weak defense that diabetes isn’t clearly linked to diet (please). But I stand by the fact that she could “give” her fans far more by admitting the role her lifestyle played in her development of diabetes.