File image of Paula Deen from the Associated Press.
(USA TODAY) - The Food Network moved quickly to distance itself from Paula Deen.
On Friday, the channel that has carried her shows since 2002 announced it would not be renewing her contract at the end of the month.
At least two other companies that do business with Deen say they're keeping an eye on the controversy, reports AP.
Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment, which has Deen's restaurants in some of its casinos, said Friday that it "will continue to monitor the situation." Publisher Ballantine, which has a new Deen book scheduled to roll out this fall, used similar words.
While the social media lynch mob rubbed its gleeful hands together at first, a groundswell of support now seems to be emerging, rallying behind the celeb chef, who has rescheduled last week's nixed Today show appearance for Wednesday.
Marilynne Wilson, a nurse from Jacksonville, Fla., stopped to buy souvenirs at the gift shop Deen owns next to her Savannah The Lady & Sons restaurant. Wilson told AP she's furious at the Food Network for dumping Deen.
"I was shocked. I thought she'd get a fair trial," Wilson said Saturday. "I think the Food Network jumped the gun."
Angry messages are being posted on network's Facebook page, with many Deen fans threating to change the channel for good. Under recipes for Zucchini Casserole and summer salads, the topic is Deen's ousting. "So good-bye Food Network," one viewer wrote. "I hope you fold like an accordion!!!"
Wrote another: "Your dismissal of Paula Deen reflects not on her use of a commonly used word of years ago but on your own narrow-mindedness. The repercussions for your declining viewership will be great."
Also publicly supporting Deen is Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah's tourism organization. "OK, I'll do it: what @Paula-Deen did was wrong," he tweeted. "But she's part of our @Savannah family and I'm here to support her."
And John McWhorter, an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, penned an opinion piece for Timemagazine, defending Deen, 66, calling this a "witch hunt."
Among his points was this:
"People of Deen's generation can neither change the past nor completely escape their roots in it, anymore than the rest of us. They can apologize and mean it, as Deen seems to. ... Deen is old and she's sorry. She should get her job back."