WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Asian American groups and reporters alike are up in arms after Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters filmed segment in which he visited Manhattan’s Chinatown.
In the segment, which aired Monday during “The O’Reilly Factor,” Watters took a trip to Chinatown and asked people on the street questions about everything from who they are voting for, to whether they knew Karate and whether the watches one man was selling were “hot.”
Criticism of the segment increased tenfold, and by Tuesday night the piece was picked up and slammed in outlets like Vox, Esquire and GQ. Many Asian-American journalists reacted with disgust on Twitter, and the Asian American Legal Defense Fund tweeted, “Seriously, can this @FoxNews @oreillyfactor piece with interviews in NY #Chinatown be any more racist?”
The Asian American Journalists Association issued statement calling the segment “rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging.” Bill O’Reilly called the segment “gentle fun,” but even he seemed to predict trouble, noting on air after the segment that he expected a lot of letters.
“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,” Paul Cheung, AAJA President said in a statement demanding an apology from Fox News. “Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in mainstream news.”
Pablo S. Torre, a journalist for ESPN and graduate of Harvard University, reacted to the segment via his Twitter account:
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 Torre 🕳️ (@PabloTorre) October 5, 2016
In response to the criticism, Watters wrote on Twitter: “As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are. My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.”
**Editor’s Note: The founder & CEO of Diya TV serves of the San Francisco board of the Asian American Journalists Association and was involved in AAJA’s response to Watters and Fox News. AAJA has been offered an opportunity to go on the O’Reilly Factor, but declined. AAJA would rather engage with Fox News, particularly Mr. Watters, in a town hall forum in New York’s Chinatown to discuss why this story was so offensive. At publishing time, there’s no word if Fox News will take up AAJA on their offer.