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As the media frenzy over Paula Deen’s use of a racial epithet raged on Friday, a journalist sent a tweet using a hashtag he thought “no one else will ever use”: #TeamPaulaDeen.

Turns out, he was wrong.

Following the Food Network’s announcement that it will not renew Deen’s contract, some of her fans weren’t shy about expressing support for her on Twitter and the network’s Facebook page.

As of Friday afternoon, the most recent post on the network’s page was a recipe for zucchini casserole. But the first visible comment had nothing to do with the dish.  “SHAME on you food network for canceling Paula dean!!!!!” it read, in part. It had more than 600 likes and was generating a fierce debate between Deen supporters and detractors.

On Twitter, “Paula Deen” was trending — and positive comments about the Southern chef weren’t exactly pouring in. But a small niche of tweeters indicated their support for her with #TeamPaula and, yes, #TeamPaulaDeen.

Both the Food Network and Deen were mum about the controversy on social media. Critics and supporters alike went to Deen’s Facebook page to share their opinions. One of the most popular comments on Deen’s page took her to task for the racial slur, but another expressing support addressed Deen directly: “Well Ms. Paula I’m a fan. I don’t expect you to be perfect.”

Source: L.A. Times