The O’Reilly Factor’s shockingly offensive “Watters World” visit to Chinatown this week got just the blowback it deserves for stereotyping and smearing Asians – and then claiming it was “all in good fun.”
As I wrote earlier this week, host Bill O’Reilly’s pretext for sending Watters to Chinatown was to “sample political opinion” because at last week’s presidential debate, “China was mentioned 12 times, mostly in a negative way, especially [by] Donald Trump.”
Vox’s Libby Nelson nicely summed up the segment:
What Watters was really doing was making fun of the people he encountered with the broadest, dumbest Asian stereotypes imaginable — making it clear they were there as props for him and his viewers for what he clearly considered a hilarious joke, rather than to actually give their opinions.
Some of what Watters considered “good fun” was asking two young women, “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?” And asking a street vendor, “I like these watches. Are they hot?”
As New York’s Daily News reported, the Asian-American Journalists Association was not amused:
“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,” the Asian-American Journalists Association said in a scathing statement.
“Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in mainstream news, the group added. “We deserve far better treatment and coverage than we’ve been given by this Fox News report.
Nor were some government representatives of Asian communities, as CNN reported:
Daniel Squadron, the New York State Senator who represents Chinatown, called the segment “offensive and unacceptable.”
“Welcome to my district,” he tweeted, “hope you don’t come back.”
And Brian Schatz, the U.S. Senator from Hawaii, called Watters “unfunny and mean.”
“He should be ashamed of himself,” Schatz tweeted. “Also, he’s not welcome to Honolulu Chinatown.”
Media Matters has a roundup of criticism from other Asian-American groups.
Jesse Watters has responded on Twitter.
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
It will be interesting to see how or if the matter is addressed on O’Reilly tonight.
Meanwhile, in case you missed it, below is the offensive segment that aired Monday, October 3, 2016. You can read my full write up from early Tuesday morning here.