Late update 5:25 p.m. ET:
Jesse Watters tweeted about the backlash late Wednesday, saying he was sorry if anyone was offended by the segment.
As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are.
— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) October 5, 2016
My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.
— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) October 5, 2016
Original story below:
A segment that aired Monday on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” is making a lot people question if we’re really in the year 2016 because of its tired depictions of Asian-Americans.
The “Watters’ World” segment showed Fox News’ Jesse Watters going to New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood to poll residents about the election, given Donald Trump’s tendency to mention China during his rallies and debates—and stop for a foot massage while he was at it.
That conceit led to Watters mocking the people he interviewed, asking passersby questions like whether it was the “year of the dragon” or if they knew how to do karate. He also asked a young man if he could give him Chinese herbs from his parents’ store that would help with “performance.”
“Am I supposed to bow to say hello?” Watters asked two women.
After airing the segment, host Bill O’Reilly noted that people in Chinatown seemed to know “what was going on” with the election. Watters scoffed at that observation.
“Some people say it’s insulated and they don’t interact with American politics but it looked like everybody knew what was going on,” O’Reilly remarked.
“You thought people knew what was going on?” Watters asked.
Watters then called Asian-Americans a “gentle” and “patient” group of people, and O’Reilly predicted that some would find the segment offensive.
“It’s gentle fun,” O’Reilly said. “So I know we’re going to get letters. Inevitable. But it was gentle.”
Folks on Twitter did not agree.
This O’Reilly factor segment making fun of Asian-Americans is unreal. It’s 2016 https://t.co/prmRsP0Zt3
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) October 5, 2016
well, *cracks knuckles*, looks like Fox News gave me, an asian-american person, something to earn my paycheck today
— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) October 5, 2016
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly & Jesse Watters airs unabashedly racist segment making fun of Asian Americans https://t.co/OOXVZSFznH
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) October 5, 2016
Watch for yourself below:
The Asian American Journalists Association released a statement condemning the segment and demanding Fox News issue an apology.
The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is outraged and shocked by the Oct. 3rd segment of “Watters’ World” on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” The segment was billed as a report on Chinese Americans’ views on the U.S. presidential election but it was rife with racist stereotypes, drew on thoughtless tropes and openly ridiculed Asian Americans.
Jesse Watters, O’Reilly Factor Correspondent and Host of Watters World, committed a litany of offenses, from asking Asian American women, “Do I bow to say hello?” to asking an Asian American man if he knew karate. He mixed in stereotypes of various Asian groups, conflating Koreans with Chinese and Japanese communities. The segment used clips of martial arts movies and interviewed Asian Americans whose primary language isn’t English in order to mock them.
It’s 2016. We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race. Sadly, Fox News proves it has a long way to go in reporting on communities of color in a respectful and fair manner.
Host Bill O’Reilly called the segment “gentle fun.” There was nothing gentle or fun about it. It was rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging.
Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in mainstream news.
With a population of 15 million, Asian Americans remain the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Between 2000-2010, our community grew by 45 percent, compared to 10 percent for the overall U.S. population.
While the largest Asian American communities continue to be in states like New York, California, and Hawaii, the fastest growing populations of Asian Americans include potential swing states like Nevada, Arizona, and North Carolina.
There has been tremendous growth of Asian American representation throughout government. There are now over 600 elected officials at all levels, according to the National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac.
We deserve far better treatment and coverage than we’ve been given by this Fox News report.
AAJA MediaWatch demands an apology from Fox News to our community and a meeting with the show’s producers to understand how this segment was conceived and greenlit to air. More importantly, we want an explanation for how this type of coverage will be prevented in the future.
Paul Cheung, AAJA President & AAJA MediaWatch committee
This post has been updated.