Fox News Host Says He Regrets Chinatown Video Criticized as Racist
In the 'O'Reilly Factor' segment, Jesse Watters asked residents of the New York City neighborhood about karate, bowing and stolen watches.
Fox News host Jesse Watters has apologized for the O'Reilly Factor "Watters World" segment on Chinatown that has been widely criticized as anti-Asian and racist.
"My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense," Watters tweeted Wednesday afternoon. He noted it was "intended to be a light piece."
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
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
The field piece aired on Monday. Bill O'Reilly introduced it by saying that China was mentioned so much at the first presidential debate, he decided to send Watters to New York's Chinatown in order to "sample political opinion."
In his piece, Watters is shown asking people questions like "Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" and "Is it the Year of the Dragon?"
After asking one street vendor if the watches he was selling were "hot," meaning "stolen," the segment cut to a clip of Mr. Miyagi — who was Japanese — in The Karate Kid.
Watters asked one elderly woman a question, and when she was silent with her answer a clip was interspersed of Madeline Kahn's character in Young Frankenstein shouting, “Speak! Speak! Why don’t you speak?!”
"Can you guys take care of North Korea for us?" he asked one woman. Watters also tried to spar with a taekwondo (traditionally a Korean martial art) instructor. And Fox News put English subtitles on a clip of a man who spoke English coherently.
At the end of the segment, O'Reilly and Watters laughed about the interviews. O'Reilly said that people didn't walk away from Watters because they are patient and "don't have anything else to do."
"It's gentle fun, so I know we’re going to get letters,” O'Reilly said, adding that backlash would be inevitable.
A Fox News spokesperson pointed The Hollywood Reporter to recent comments from Jesse Watters, in which he said he doesn't set out to upset people.
"I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings," he told Independent Journal Review last November.
"Listen, any time anybody gets annoyed or emotional on television, it makes for good television," he said in another interview last December. "I enjoy different types of people, from different parts of the country, from different ways of life. I try to make it enjoyable for the person I'm interviewing. We always come away from the interview all smiles, for the most part. And it's always fun to come back and look at the footage and say, 'Oh my gosh, what just happened?'"
Well in terms of the Chinatown video, critics of Watters say that what just happened was racism. Here's a look at some of the reaction on social media:
even megyn kelly is gonna watch this and be like “wow that’s racist"https://t.co/5ftLsxTHp9— Sam Biddle (@samfbiddle) October 5, 2016
The worst part about this bluntly racist Fox News segment is all the people who have no idea it's bluntly racist https://t.co/p16XNiW8up— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) October 5, 2016
Oct. 5, 2:33 p.m.: Updated with Watters' tweets.