Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

Last month's taped deposition in which celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted she has used the N word and hoped to have a "very southern style wedding" with an all-black waitstaff for her brother isn't the first time the Food Network host has frankly discussed her evolving views on race with a unique mix of self-reflection and obliviousness.

In her 2006 memoir "It Ain't All About The Cookin'," while describing her early experiences with race, Deen wrote at length about growing up in the segregated South. Among her recollections was an incident from her youth where she hit a black girl "with a bolo bat" and the girl's mother wound up in jail. She also wrote about a time later in her life when she attempted to make a "Sambo burger" on her TV show and had to be dissuaded by producers.

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After days of taking fire over racial comments she made in a taped deposition for a discrimination suit, Food Network celebrity chef Paula Deen took to her Twitter page Friday morning and promised to release a video statement. 

"I will be releasing a video statement shortly," Deen wrote. 

Deen is being sued by a former employee who claimed to have been subjected to racist and sexist behavior by Deen's brother, who runs a restaurant owned by Deen. Attorneys for Deen and her brother have denied the allegations, which include black employees being forced to use separate restrooms and entrances. In her deposition for the case, Deen described an incident where she told the employee how she wanted to have a “very southern style wedding” for her brother with an all-black staff. She also admitted to having used the N word in the past.

Since the deposition first became public Wednesday, Deen has not personally addressed the issue and she cancelled a planned appearance on the Today Show Friday.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus released a statement Thursday calling on Jim Allen, the GOP County Chairman in Montgomery County, Ill. to resign for "astonishingly offensive" comments he made comparing black, female Republican congressional candidate Erika Harold to a "street walker."

"The astonishingly offensive views expressed by Chairman Allen have absolutely no place among the leaders of our party at any level. His behavior is inexcusable and must not be tolerated. He should apologize to Erika Harold and resign immediately," Priebus said.

Allen made his comments on Harold in an email to the website Republican News Watch. Harold is a former Miss America who is running in a primary against incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL). In his email, Allen predicted Davis will defeat Harold and she will end up "working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires" next year.  

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The Virginia GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, gave a speech Wednesday in which he claimed government social programs have done more harm to the "black family" than slavery. Jackson explained that "programs that began in the sixties" hurt the African-American community because they encouraged people to feel women did not need men "in the home." 

“My great grandparents, Gabriel and Elijah Jackson were slaves and sharecroppers in Orange County, Va. I am a direct descendant of slaves. My grandfather was born there, to a father and a mother who had been slaves. And by the way, their family was more intact than the black family is today and I’m telling you that slavery did not destroy the black family even though it certainly was an attack on the black family," said Jackson. "It made it difficult, but I’ll tell you that the programs that began in the sixties, the programs that began to tell women that you don’t need a man in the home, the government will take care of you, that began to tell men, you don’t need to be in the home, the government will take care of this woman and take care of these children. That’s when the black family began to deteriorate."

Jackson continued by citing some statistics that he said supported his argument. 

"In 1960 most black children were raised in two parent, monogamous families. By now, by this time, we have only twenty percent of black children being raised in a two parent, monogamous families with the married man and woman raising those children," Jackson said. "It wasn’t slavery that did that, it was government that did that. It tried to solve problems that only god can solve and that only we as human beings can solve.” 

Jackson has previously made headlines for comments comparing Planned Parenthood to the KKK and his criticisms of gays. He made his remarks in Newport News, Va. at a celebration for Juneteenth, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery. 

Watch a video of Jackson's speech below. 

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Updated at 7:28 p.m. ET

Last month, Food Network chef Paula Deen gave a videotaped deposition as part of a discrimination suit she's facing in which she discussed her desire to have a "very southern style wedding" for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the "whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men" clad in white jackets and black bow ties, according to a transcript of the deposition filed in federal court in Georgia. Deen also admitted to having used the N word and discussed the ways the word could be "not said in a mean way."

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The Food Network has issued a statement responding to racial comments one of its star chefs, Paula Deen, made in deposition she gave for a discrimination suit against her and other defendants. 

"Food Network does not tolerate any form of discrimination and is a strong proponent of diversity and inclusion. We will continue to monitor the situation," a Food Network spokeswoman said. 

In the deposition, Deen described wanting to have a "very southern style wedding" for her brother modeled after a restaurant where the “whole entire wait staff was middle-aged black men” wearing in white jackets and black bow ties. She also admitted to having used the N word.

Deen, her company, her brother, and the corporations that operate two restaurants she owns are being sued by an ex-employee named Lisa Jackson who has claimed she was subjected to sexist, racist, and violent behavior during the time she worked at one of the restaurants. Attorneys for Deen and her brother have denied the allegations. 

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Google filed a motion with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Tuesday asking it to relax the gag orders that prevent the internet company from disclosing information about the number of requests for user data it receives from the U.S. government. The legal filing argues the company has a "right under the First Amendment" to disclose the number of requests for user data Google receives from law enforcement under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the total number of users involved in these requests.

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Update: June 18, 2013, 1:47 PM

In an off-year for presidential and congressional campaigns, the 2013 New York City mayoral election is one of the hottest destinations for political operatives. Many of the top-tier candidates in this election have drawn staffers with experience on national races.

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