Jesse Watters: Trump Isn’t Racist Because He Met With Kanye And Has Taken Pictures With Black People
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After top United States intelligence officials testified before Congress and confirmed reports that Russia orchestrated efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election, right-wing news figures deflected from the report by falsely blaming John Podesta’s email password for cybersecurity breaches.
Fox Will Now Feature Watters' Poor-Shaming, Sexism, And Transphobia For An Hour Every Week
Fox News has announced that news correspondent Jesse Watters' monthly special Watters' World will now be a weekly show on the network. Watters has a track record of producing segments where he shames homeless Americans and mocks members of the LGBT community. During his segment and while guest-hosting shows on Fox, Watters has also repeatedly made disparaging comments about immigrants, women, Asian-Americans and African-Americans.
In 2016, right-wing media’s use of racially charged and bigoted statements hit new lows, featuring widely condemned segments reliant on racial caricatures, bigoted attempts to blame progressives for the actions of white nationalists, and slurs directed against other media figures. Here are the most bigoted stories and statements from right-wing media figures over the last year:
With hate crimes against Muslims on the rise and an administration that frequently makes anti-Muslim statements on its way in, cable news shows must work harder to include Muslim experts, advocates, and community leaders in order to provide a good reflection of the diversity and authenticity of American Muslim experiences.
According to FBI statistics, anti-Muslim hate crimes have been on the rise for several years, shooting up 67 percent between 2014 and 2015 “from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015,” their highest since the year of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Though FBI hate crime statistics for 2016 won’t be released until the end of 2017, according to a joint study by CAIR and ThinkProgress, there have been 111 reported anti-Muslim incidents in America since the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, 53 of them in the month of December 2015 alone.
Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, which tracked the connection between political rhetoric and anti-Muslim attacks during the the presidential campaign season, found that there have been approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence in the one year period after the first candidate announced his bid for the White House in March 2015. And since Trump’s election less than two months ago, there have been at least 150 reported hate incidents, 29 of which were inspired by anti-Muslim sentiment, according to a ThinkProgress analysis that “focuses on moments of more targeted harassment and hatred.”
Despite the undeniable upward trend of violence against American Muslims, right-wing media have consistently dismissed this trend and cast doubt on the discrimination American Muslims face. On December 7, 2015, the same day Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Fox’s The Five co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Jesse Watters used the opportunity to criticize the Obama administration's call for tolerance toward Muslims by denying the existence of discrimination against people of that faith. Watters asserted, "Let me know if you see any Muslim backlash, I haven't seen a lot of it," with Guilfoyle adding, "I mean, who's vilifying any of the Muslims. Who's doing that?" The next day, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed, “Muslim hate crimes [are] not as big an issue as the White House would make you to believe,” and The O’Reilly Factor host Bill O’Reilly asserted, “there really isn't any evidence that Muslims are being mistreated in the USA.”
Of course, none of these Fox figures are Muslim, and neither of these segments featured Muslim guests. Their coverage is indicative of a larger problem: When cable news shows fail to invite Muslims to speak about their concerns, misinformed attacks are left unchecked and unchallenged and are repeated until viewers simply accept them as fact.
The Pulse Nightclub Shooting
The day after 49 people were killed at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, despite major print and online news stories about the outpouring of Muslim support for the shooting victims, positive portrayals of Muslims on cable news shows were almost non-existent. A Media Matters study of what voices were heard on cable news the day after the Orlando shooting found only 5 percent of guests on Fox News and MSNBC were Muslim, as well as only 7 percent of guests on CNN. What’s more, the three Muslim guests featured on Fox News did not adequately represent the Muslim American population; Maajid Nawaz is identified by Fox as a “former Islamic extremist,” Zuhdi Jasser has been described by the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as “the de facto Muslim for anti-Muslim political leaders,” and Qanta Ahmed has warned that “it’s time for the United States, western democracies, Britain, France, to admit that we are under siege by an ideology called Islamism.”
Three days later, Fox’s Megyn Kelly invited anti-Muslim hate group leader Brigitte Gabriel, founder of ACT! For America, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America,” onto her show to discuss the shooting. Fox’s post-Orlando coverage followed a familiar pattern of stereotyping, fear-mongering, and misplaced blame. Other Fox guests and contributors exploited the attack in order to call for mosque surveillance and a new version of the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Fox isn’t the only network that needs to improve inclusion of Muslim voices in important dialogues. On MSNBC, Maajid Nawaz, who was identified as a “former Islamist revolutionary member,” accounted for two out of four Muslim guest appearances. (He was also the same guest featured on Fox.) CNN featured the most diverse and numerous array of Muslim guests, but still only comprised 7 percent of guests on CNN that day.
Trump’s Attacks On A Gold Star Family
Another recent example of a major news story that impacted the Muslim community but didn’t ask them how was Trump’s attacks on a Muslim Gold Star family. On July 31, Gold Star mother Ghazala Khan penned an op-ed for The Washington Post debunking Trump’s July 30 claim that “maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say” about her son Humayun, an Army captain who was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Trump’s attack, which played on the stereotype that Muslim women are expected to be subservient to their husbands, garnered sustained national attention, but on the morning shows of two major cable news networks, MSNBC and Fox, Muslim guests were barely featured. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, of 13 guests to discuss Trump’s attacks on the Khan family, only two were Muslim, the Khans themselves. On Fox’s morning show Fox & Friends, which covered the story significantly less, only one of three guests invited to discuss the Khan story was Muslim, and the one Muslim guest was Jasser. CNN’s coverage of the attacks on the Khan family was markedly more representative of Muslims. Out of 17 guests invited onto its morning show New Day, eight (including Khizr and Ghazala Khan) were Muslim. While this is a major improvement over MSNBC’s and Fox’s coverage of the story, only one guest other than Ghazala Khan was a female Muslim, despite the sexist nature of Trump’s anti-Muslim attack.
Post-Election Media Environment
Politicians engaging in anti-Islam rhetoric picked up in 2015, but no presidential candidate weaponized that brand of hate to the degree Donald Trump has. Throughout the course of his campaign, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, said he would implement a registry and tracking system of American Muslims, and claimed that “Islam hates us.” Despite the unusual level of anti-Muslim sentiment coming from the president-elect, in the month following Trump’s election only 21 percent of evening cable news segments on issues affecting Muslims or, more specifically, segments on his anti-Muslim policy proposals and cabinet picks featured Muslim guests. Muslims are understandably outraged about Trump’s cabinet picks, and while discussion of those picks has dominated cable news shows during the transition, we aren’t hearing from Muslims on the primetime news shows.
Why This Matters
Media representation of Muslims has measurable effects on Americans’ views of Muslims and Islam. A December 2015 University of Michigan experimental study on exposure to Muslims in media found that “exposing participants to negative Muslim media footage, relative to neutral or no-video footage, increased perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, increased support for harsh civil restrictions of American Muslims, and increased support for military action in Muslim countries.” Fortunately, the opposite is also true -- media representations of Muslims in a positive context can produce the opposite effect. Moreover, the majority of Americans that personally know Muslims hold favorable views of them, a finding that holds across the political spectrum. But only 38 percent of Americans say that they know someone who is Muslim. Taken together, these findings make the case for increased representation of Muslims in news media -- since most Americans have limited interactions with Muslims, it’s incumbent that media help to get their perspectives across authentically.
Unfortunately,TV news has done an abysmal job of this. A 2007-2013 study on Muslims in the media found that primetime TV news coverage of Muslims has gotten increasingly worse -- in 2013, over 80 percent of media portrayals of Muslims in U.S. broadcast news shows were negative. This kind of coverage has lasting impacts on attitudes about Muslims. Fifty-five percent of Americans hold either a somewhat or very unfavorable view of Islam, and over half of Americans believe that Muslim immigrants increase the risk of terror attacks in the United States.
Despite the false but persistent narrative of Muslims as violent aggressors, American Muslims face more discrimination than nearly every other demographic in the United States, and it dominates their day-to-day existence. A 2011 Pew study with Muslim American participants (the most recent to date) found that the six biggest problems facing Muslims in the United States were negative views of their community, discrimination, ignorance about their religion, cultural problems between Muslims and non-Muslims, negative media portrayals, and acceptance by society. Given this reality, it is even more important that American Muslims are invited into the national news media to inform non-Muslims and raise awareness about issues faced by members of the United States’ estimated 3.3 million Muslim population.
In the face of what has been called a “post-truth presidency,” being informed is more important than ever. That starts with representing the diverse demographics, perspectives, and opinions of Americans fairly and authentically. In 2016, TV news media viewers saw glimpses of media outlets’ understanding of the need to represent Muslims. Next year, these cable news producers need to constantly be asking themselves: Who does this story affect? What can we ask them? How can we learn from them? Asking Muslims, “What is life like in Trump’s America?” is a good place to start.
For coverage of the Khan family story, Media Matters used iQ media to review the August 1, 2016, editions of morning news shows on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News -- CNN’s New Day, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Fox News’ Fox & Friends -- between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. for segments and panel discussions dedicated to the Khan story. We excluded network hosts and reporters in our count of show guests. For coverage of the Pulse nightclub shooting, segments featuring Muslim guests were reviewed in iQ media to determine their identity. For post-election cable news coverage of issues affecting American Muslims, Media Matters used Nexis to search for mentions of “Islam," “Muslim,” “Middle East,” and “registry” in show editions of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News from the hours of 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. aired between November 14 and December 14, 2016. Fox News’ The Five, a primarily panel-based show which rarely has guests, was excluded. Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect, which airs on MSNBC, was also excluded because transcripts are not available in Nexis.
Segments included are defined by either a panel discussion or an interview where the stated topic of the segment is Islam, Muslims in the United States, or policies and/or presidential cabinet appointments affecting Muslims. We identified a guest’s religion by one or more of the following details: the host’s spoken introduction, onscreen text or graphics produced by the network, self-identification, or consultation of publicly available online biographies.
Donald Trump and the presidential election dominated news coverage in 2016. But talking heads still found plenty of time to make jaw-dropping comments about climate change, energy, and the environment. This year’s list of ridiculous claims includes a dangerous conspiracy theory about Hurricane Matthew, over-the-top worship of fracking and coal, and absurd victim-blaming around the Flint water crisis. Here is our list of the 15 most ridiculous things that media figures said about climate, energy, and environmental issues in 2016.
1. Rush Limbaugh And Matt Drudge Peddled A Reckless Conspiracy Theory Downplaying The Threat From Hurricane Matthew. Shortly before Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the U.S., Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge concocted a conspiracy theory that the federal government was overstating the hurricane’s severity in order to manufacture concern about climate change. On The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh accused the National Hurricane Center of "playing games" with hurricane forecasting and added, “It's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change, which they can desperately continue trying to sell.”
Limbaugh doubled down on this theory the next day, telling his audience, “There’s politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes.”
Drudge, the curator of the widely read Drudge Report website, promoted the conspiracy as well, suggesting that federal officials were exaggerating the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make [an] exaggerated point on climate.”
Drudge also used his website to persuade Southeast residents not to take the storm seriously, with a banner “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!” and additional headlines “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY...”.
Climate scientist Michael Mann explained that people "could die because of the misinformation that folks like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge are putting out there," and two actual hurricane experts provided a point-by-point rebuttal of Drudge’s claims. But that did nothing to dissuade Drudge, who refused to give up on the conspiracy theory.
2. Fox News Blamed The Flint Water Crisis On Climate Change Policies, "PC Stuff,” And Even Flint Residents Themselves. National media outlets largely ignored the water crisis in Flint, MI, as it unfolded over almost two years, but when the story did finally make national headlines, Fox News pundits were quick to pin the blame on anyone and anything other than the Republican governor of Michigan.
On Fox & Friends, host Heather Nauert and guest Mark Aesch suggested that “misplaced priorities,” including climate change and “PC stuff,” allowed the water crisis to happen:
And on The Kelly File, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt placed blame on Flint residents themselves, saying that the "people of Flint should have been protesting in the streets" after noticing that their water was poisoned. Stirewalt also blamed Flint parents for giving their children contaminated water, declaring: "If you were pouring water into a cup for your child and it stunk and it smelled like sulfur and it was rotten, would you give that to your child? No, you'd revolt, you'd march in the street." In addition to being offensive, Stirewalt’s comments were premised on a falsehood; Flint residents did in fact repeatedly protest throughout the year to demand safe drinking water for their families.
3. CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Claimed Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt “Hasn’t Denied Global Warming.” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is a climate science denier who has refused to accept the clear consensus of the scientific community that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are primarily responsible for global warming. Yet according to CNN New Day anchor Alisyn Camerota, Pruitt simply “sees nuance” and “hasn’t denied global warming.” Camerota falsely claimed that Pruitt only disputes climate “predictions” and “forecasts,” when in fact he has also denied that global warming is human-caused, and even Camerota's premise that climate models are unreliable is incorrect. As Camerota wrongly absolved Pruitt of climate denial, CNN’s on-screen text read: “Climate Change Denier Scott Pruitt To Lead EPA.” Co-anchor Chris Cuomo also pushed back on Camerota, stating that Pruitt “says it’s ‘far from settled.’ That means he’s not accepting the science.”
Camerota badly butchered climate science, but it's noteworthy she was even discussing the issue given CNN’s spotty track record. In April, a Media Matters analysis found that CNN aired almost five times as much oil industry advertising as climate change-related coverage in the one-week periods following the announcements that 2015 was the hottest year on record and February 2016 was the most abnormally hot month on record. And in one segment later in the year where CNN did cover climate change, CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello speculated, “Are we just talking about this and people's eyes are glazing over?”
4. MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson "Is A Huge Green Guy.” Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is the chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies. Exxon is currently under investigation in several states for possibly violating state laws by deceiving shareholders and the public about climate change, while Tillerson himself has misinformed about climate science and mocked renewable energy. Yet according to Mike Barnicle, a regular on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “Rex Tillerson is a huge green guy.” And alas, no, we don't think he was comparing Tillerson to the Jolly Green Giant or the Incredible Hulk.
5. Disregarding Everything Trump Has Said And Done On The Subject, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Claimed “I Just Know” Trump Believes In Climate Science. On Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough defended Trump after it was announced he had selected Pruitt, a climate science denier, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Scarborough -- who along with co-host Mika Brzezinski has repeatedly carried water for Trump -- insisted, “I just know” that Trump “has to believe” in climate science.
Scarborough’s comments followed a wave of TV coverage about how Trump had supposedly “reversed course” on climate change, which was based on a New York Times interview in which Trump said he has an “open mind” about the Paris climate agreement and that “there is some connectivity” between human activities and climate change. But few of these reports addressed any of the substantive reasons that such a reversal was highly unlikely, such as his transition team’s plan to abandon the Obama administration’s landmark climate policy, indications that he will dismantle NASA’s climate research program, and his appointment of fossil fuel industry allies as transition team advisers -- not to mention the full context of Trump’s remarks to the Times.
6. Trump Adviser Stephen Moore: Being Against Fracking “Is Like Being Against A Cure For Cancer.” While discussing his new book Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy on C-SPAN2's Book TV, conservative economist and Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore stated that opposing fracking “is like being against a cure for cancer” because it is “one of the great seismic technological breakthroughs” that is “giving us huge amounts of energy at very low prices.” Never mind that many of the chemicals involved in fracking have actually been linked to cancer.
7. Stephen Moore: “We Have The Cleanest Coal In The World.” Moore’s preposterous praise for fossil fuels wasn’t just confined to fracking. On Fox Business’ Varney & Co., he declared that the U.S. has “the cleanest coal in the world.” That statement is quite difficult to square with the fact that “Coal combustion contributes to four of the top five leading causes of death in the U.S.—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases—according to Physicians for Social Responsibility,” as Climate Nexus has noted.
Pro-coal propaganda also found a home on Fox Business’ sister network, Fox News, where The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld asserted that “coal is a moral substance. Where coal reaches, people live longer, happier lives.”
8. Breitbart’s James Delingpole: Climate Change Is “The Greatest-Ever Conspiracy Against The Taxpayer.” In an article promoting a speech he gave to the World Taxpayers’ Associations in Berlin, Breitbart’s James Delingpole wrote: “Climate change is the biggest scam in the history of the world – a $1.5 trillion-a-year conspiracy against the taxpayer, every cent, penny and centime of which ends in the pockets of the wrong kind of people.” In the speech itself, Delingpole similarly claimed that “the global warming industry” is “a fraud; a sham; a conspiracy against the taxpayer.”
Breitbart, which was until recent months run by Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, has frequently denied climate change and viciously attacked climate scientists. Delingpole, in particular, has described climate scientists as “talentless lowlifes” and referred to climate advocates as “eco Nazis,” “eco fascists,” and “scum-sucking slime balls.” Bannon has criticized Pope Francis for succumbing to “hysteria” about climate change; The Washington Post has written about how Bannon influenced Trump’s views on the issue during his time at Breitbart.
9. Fox Report On Law Gas Prices: “Put The Tesla In The Garage And Break Out The Hummer.” Just 10 days after Trump was elected president, Fox News began giving him credit for low gas prices, the latest proof of the network’s blatant double standard when it comes to covering gas prices under Republican and Democratic presidents. But simply shilling for Trump was apparently not enough for Fox Business reporter Jeff Flock, who provided the slanted gas prices report on Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters. At the conclusion of the report, Flock also displayed a brazen lack of concern about climate change, declaring: “I would say put the Tesla in the garage and break out the Hummer.”
10. Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel Instructed Viewers To “Trust” A Climate Science-Denying Fossil Fuel Front Group. In a video interview posted on The Wall Street Journal’s website, Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel instructed viewers who are “confused about the science surrounding climate change” to “trust” Rod Nichols, chairman of a climate science-denying fossil fuel front group known as the CO2 Coalition. During the interview, Nichols denied that human activities such as burning oil and coal are responsible for recent global warming, claiming that “climate change has been going on for hundreds of millions of years,” “there is not going to be any catastrophic climate change,” and “CO2 will be good for the world.” Kissel asked Nichols, “Why don't we hear more viewpoints like the ones that your coalition represents,” and concluded that the CO2 Coalition’s research papers are “terrific.”
The Wall Street Journal has made a habit of “trusting” climate science deniers like Nichols -- or at least repeating their false claims about climate science. A recent Media Matters analysis of climate-related opinion pieces found that the Journal far outpaced other major newspapers in climate science misinformation, publishing 31 opinion pieces that featured climate denial or other scientifically inaccurate claims about climate change over a year-and-a-half period.
11. Fox Host Clayton Morris: Rubio's Climate Science Denial At Presidential Debate Was An "Articulate Moment.” During a Fox News discussion of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s performance at a CNN presidential debate, Fox and Friends co-host Clayton Morris described Rubio’s claim that the climate is “always” changing -- a common talking point among climate science deniers -- as “a really articulate moment.”
While Morris’ endorsement of Rubio’s climate denial as “articulate” is particularly striking, a 2015 Media Matters analysis found that media frequently failed to fact-check GOP presidential candidates’ climate change denial.
12. Fox Hosts Mocked Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar Speech On Climate Change: "Focus On Something Else Other Than The Weather.” When actor Leonardo DiCaprio took home the Oscar for best actor for his role in The Revenant, the hosts of Fox News’ The Five and Fox and Friends mocked DiCaprio for devoting much of his acceptance speech to making the case for climate change action. On The Five, co-host Jesse Watters declared, “So the guy finally gets an Academy Award and he's talking about the weather. What's going on here?” Co-host Eric Bolling helpfully added, “Focus on something else other than the weather.”
That wasn’t the only time in 2016 that DiCaprio was caught in Fox News’ crosshairs for having the nerve to talk about climate change. Later in the year, The Five aired footage from an event in which President Obama criticized congressional climate deniers and DiCaprio said, “The scientific consensus is in, and the argument is now over. If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts, or in science, or empirical truths, and therefore in my humble opinion should not be allowed to hold public office.” The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld then responded by likening criticism of climate science deniers to religious extremism, saying: “You have to wonder about a belief system that doesn't want any challenges, that doesn't want any of their theories to be questioned. This -- what he is talking about is radical Islam of science. He is actually turning science into a religion.”
13. Fox’s Meghan McCain: "The Liberal Hysteria Over Climate Change Was So Overblown That Now People Have A Hard Time Even Believing It.” Rather than criticize conservatives or Republicans who frequently deny climate science, Fox News host Meghan Mccain blamed liberals for public confusion about climate change, declaring on Fox News' Outnumbered that “the liberal hysteria over climate change was so overblown that now people have a hard time even believing it and believing that it's something that's justified.” McCain, who also mocked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for campaigning on the issue with Al Gore, added, “I do think there are signs we should look at, but if Al Gore, if you take his word for it, there's a big flood that's going to come in and wipe us all away in five minutes.”
14. Fox’s Steve Doocy: Obama’s Monument Designation Was Done To “Appease Environmental Terrorists.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy declared that President Obama’s designation of the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean was “done to appease environmental terrorists.” Not so shockingly, Doocy and his co-hosts did not comment when their guest, Deadliest Catch’s Keith Colburn, acknowledged that "increased water temperatures" from climate change are impacting fisheries across the United States.
15. Fox Hosts Flipped Out About Portland Public Schools Decision To Stop Teaching Climate Denial To Children. In May, the Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution “aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools.” But while climate science denial may no longer be taught in Portland public schools, it still has a place on Fox News, as the hosts of Outnumbered demonstrated in their flippant response to the resolution.
Co-host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery said the Portland schools decision is “so anti-scientific,” adding, “There are still scientists, believe it or not, out there who say, ‘No, we still have to look at the data.’ And it's impossible to predict how the climate is going to change over hundreds or thousands of years.” Co-host Jesse Waters remarked, “So getting out of the ice age, how did the Earth warm up after the ice age? There were no humans there with cars and factories.” He also stated, “It gets hot, it gets cold, this spring has been freezing. It's not getting warmer, it seems like it's getting colder. Am I wrong?”
But Fox News pundits aren’t just defenders of teaching climate science denial; they’re also partially to blame for it, according to researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Last year, the SMU researchers released a study that found some children's textbooks that depict the reality of human-caused climate change with uncertainty are influenced by a climate science knowledge gap that finds its roots partly in conservative media misinformation. In particular, the SMU researchers pointed to previous research that showed Fox has disproportionately interviewed climate science deniers and that its viewers are more likely to be climate science deniers themselves.
Despite controversy surrounding a racist segment mocking Asian Americans, Fox News’ Jesse Watters returned to The O’Reilly Factor and ignored the controversy, instead taking part in another man-on-the-street interview segment.
Watters came under intense fire for his October 3 edition of "Watters' World," titled “Chinatown Edition,” from journalists and lawmakers, with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) calling the segment “xenophobic” and the Asian American Journalists Association president saying it was “rife with racist stereotypes.” Fox News on the other hand refused to comment about the controversy, while Bill O’Reilly defended Watters, saying “we’re proud” of him.
On the October 10 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Watters asked random New Yorkers about Christopher Columbus and quizzed people on who discovered America, even asking one woman of Native American descent if she harbored any "animosity" toward Columbus. At no point before or after the segment did O’Reilly or Watters apologize for, or even address the controversy surrounding the "Chinatown" segment, other than a veiled joke about Watters being close to getting fired.
Numerous lawmakers, including the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate and the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, condemned Fox host and correspondent Jesse Watters for an episode of his O’Reilly Factor special “Watters’ World” in which he used blatantly racist tropes about Asian-Americans during interviews in New York City’s Chinatown.
During the October 3 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly aired a “Chinatown” edition of “Watters’ World” in which Watters interviewed several Asian-American people in Chinatown. Watters asked a series of stereotype-laden questions such as, “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" “Tell me what’s not made in China?” and “Do you know karate?” The song “Kung Fu Fighting” played in the background, and the segment included clips of Watters attempting to do karate.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, tweeted an eye-rolling emoji at Watters, calling the segment “xenophobic.” Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the first Chinese-American woman elected to Congress and chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, tweeted that she was “disgusted by this racism.” Chu added that Watters’ mocking of non-native speakers and treatment of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders “as ‘others’ marginalizes minority groups.” In another tweet, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) questioned how Watters “is allowed to stay on the air” and whether “anyone finds this garbage funny.”
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) October 6, 2016
— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) October 5, 2016
I cannot believe that this guy is allowed to stay on the air. Or that anyone finds this garbage funny. https://t.co/WsjUBuptZq
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) October 5, 2016
Watters also drew criticism from New York City lawmakers, including Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and state Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Democrat who represents the Chinatown district. De Blasio called Watters' behavior “vile” and “racist” and demanded Fox News “keep this guy off TV.”
The vile, racist behavior of Fox’s Jesse Watters in Chinatown has no place in our city. @FoxNews – keep this guy off TV.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) October 6, 2016
Squadron’s statement condemned Watters for bringing “the kind of disrespect to my constituents that has been all too common this election cycle: stereotyping, mockery and a thinly veiled disdain for immigrants.” Squadron concluded, “And to Jesse Watters: welcome to my district -- hope you don’t come back”:
Under the guise of asking residents of Manhattan’s Chinatown their thoughts on Donald Trump, O’Reilly Factor correspondent Jesse Watters brought the kind of disrespect to my constituents that has been all too common this election cycle: stereotyping, mockery and a thinly veiled disdain for immigrants.
Unfortunately, one of the real costs of Trump’s divisiveness is the climate of racism and disrespect it’s made commonplace in our national discourse. That’s unacceptable in Chinatown, unacceptable in New York, and must be unacceptable on Fox News.
And to Jesse Watters: welcome to my district — hope you don’t come back.
Various journalists, including the Asian American Journalists Association and MSNBC host Chris Hayes, also widely criticized the segment. “Watters’ World” has a long history of airing racist and sexist remarks, shaming the poor, and mocking ordinary people.
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Fox News is under fire after The O'Reilly Factor on October 3 aired a blatantly racist edition of Jesse Watters' segment "Watters' World." Watters interviewed people in New York City's Chinatown neighborhood, asking questions such as “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" “Tell me what’s not made in China?” and “Do you know karate?” This segment is just the latest addition to Watters' long history of making racist and sexist remarks, shaming the poor, and mocking ordinary people during his "Watters' World" feature on O'Reilly's program. Here are some of the worst examples:
More Groups Condemn Fox’s "Racist" And "Offensive" Segment
The president of the Asian American Journalists Association is heavily criticizing Fox News for airing a segment that “was rife with racist stereotypes.”
Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor aired an October 3 segment featuring correspondent Jesse Watters visiting New York’s Chinatown neighborhood to purportedly get residents' “political opinion.” The segment instead became, as Vox explained, an excuse to make “fun of the people he encountered with the broadest, dumbest Asian stereotypes imaginable.”
Paul Cheung, the president of the Asian American Journalists Association and director of Interactive and Digital News Production at The Associated Press, strongly criticized Fox News for the segment.
“The segment was rife with racist stereotypes, drew on thoughtless tropes and openly ridiculed Asian Americans,” Cheung told Media Matters. “Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in the mainstream news media.”
Numerous other journalists, including Asian-Americans reporters, took to Twitter to criticize the segment for its “disgusting” and “anti-Asian” ridicule.
UPDATE: The Asian American Journalists Association issued a formal statement about the segment, saying that “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 association said its MediaWatch committee is demanding “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.”
Gregory A. Cendana, the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement, told Media Matters:
Though it’s not surprising that The O’Reilly Factor did such a segment, we’re still extremely disappointed in the racist and stereotypical coverage of Chinese Americans on a major outlet. The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, for one, is not a monolith nor a model minority nor a perpetual foreigner. It was inappropriate for Watters to ask about Chinese herbs for performance. It was inappropriate for Watters to make fun of Chinese elder who did not answer his question. So much of that coverage played into the exoticization and the status of perpetual foreign of the AAPI community, which continue to be an issue in the media today. And it’s a shame that this segment had to exacerbate that.
Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and a former Minnesota state senator, issued the following statement to Media Matters:
Advancing Justice | AAJC is outraged by the blatant, racist and offensive stereotypes of Chinese Americans portrayed in a recent Fox News segment during The O’Reilly Factor. The fact that O’Reilly termed this as “gentle fun” and Watters believed it was “all in good fun” only demonstrates a complete lack of a moral compass. It is unconscionable that a news organization would sanction a segment that laughs at a community of people, including Watters ridiculing elderly Asian Americans who were limited English proficient.
Although The O’Reilly Factor may believe this was 'all in good fun,' the segment does nothing more than play up every offensive stereotype of Asian Americans that the community has fought against for decades. What they should have done is to talk about the important role that Asian Americans can play in this upcoming election. There are more than 9.3 million newly eligible voters this year, and 37% of Asian American respondents in our 2016 Voter Survey identify themselves as independents. Our community stands to play an important role in this election and the future of politics as the fastest growing racial group in the United States. We as a community refuse to be mocked and trivialized.
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund wrote of the segment on its Twitter account:
— AsianAmericanLegal (@aaldef) October 5, 2016
Christopher Kang, national director for the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans told, Media Matters:
This segment is so clearly racist and offensive, it is impossible to understand how it was aired at all, much less as a supposed news piece. If Bill O'Reilly wants to report on the views of Asian Americans, he could cover today's survey that shows Asian Americans favor Secretary Clinton to Mr. Trump by a margin of 55%-14%. Instead, this segment insults Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and demeans people of limited English proficiency in a shockingly callous manner. The next time Bill O'Reilly realizes his segment is "going to get letters," he should demonstrate a little judgment and not air it.
Journalists Condemn Jesse Watters For O'Reilly Factor Segment: “The Most Offensive Television Segment I’ve Ever Seen”
Fox News’ Jesse Watters is drawing widespread condemnation for a segment on The O’Reilly Factor in which he visited New York’s Chinatown neighborhood to, according to Fox host Bill O’Reilly, “sample political opinion.” Since the episode aired, media figures have admonished Watters and O’Reilly for the “disgusting” and “anti-Asian” segment.
During the October 3 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, O’Reilly aired the “Chinatown edition” of “Watters’ World,” in which Watters interviewed several bystanders in New York’s Chinatown, asking questions such as, “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" “Tell me what’s not made in China?” and “Do you know karate?” Watters also played the song “Kung Fu Fighting” in the background and included clips of him doing karate. But, as Vox puts it, “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.”
The segment was rebuked by numerous journalists on Twitter:
How much trolling, anti-Asian racism can you pack into one news segment? More than I ever thought possible: https://t.co/tm0a1ezEky
— Suzy Khimm (@SuzyKhimm) October 5, 2016
It’s 2016. Here is a person from Fox News going to Chinatown and asking people if they know karate. https://t.co/YAC8kiM2up
— Andrew Keh (@andrewkeh) October 5, 2016
This might be the most offensive television segment I've ever seen https://t.co/GH8LdHObtL
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 5, 2016
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) October 5, 2016
This is beyond words offensive and disgraceful. What year are we in?Seriously?? https://t.co/Nr7iuBwR8W
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) October 5, 2016
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
— Elise Foley (@elisefoley) October 5, 2016
— Bae TK Talese (@elongreen) October 5, 2016
— Philip Bump (@pbump) October 5, 2016
Big advantage Democrats have is people like Bill O'Reilly enjoy being racist more than they like winning elections https://t.co/6TFX0mGLKt
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) October 5, 2016
If you're Asian and you work at Fox, now would be a good time to quit: https://t.co/rDugXlNrnW
— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) October 5, 2016
This is wrong on multiple lvls but as a journalist you don't go to civilians and then mock them for their responses https://t.co/hzMrOyCDd6
— Nick Riccardi (@NickRiccardi) October 5, 2016
Nice to see people noticing this insane segment on Asian voters. Come for sterotypes, stay for implied dual loyalty https://t.co/VgGBSeJZ5M
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) October 5, 2016
Watters’ racist segment is not the first time The O’Reilly Factor has stereotyped Asian-American or Asian people. O’Reilly himself once stated, “Asian-Americans have succeeded in the U.S.A. better than any other minority group. ... I’m saying there’s no white privilege; there must be Asian privilege because the Asians are at the top of the chart.” O’Reilly also asserted that "Asian people are not liberal, you know, by nature. They're usually more industrious and hard-working," which prompted a demand for an apology from then-Rep. Collen Hanabusa (D-HI), who said O’Reilly’s comments “thoughtlessly insult 1.3 million people with one sweeping misstatement."
Fox News is mischaracterizing remarks Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made at a private fundraiser in February, falsely claiming that she was mocking Bernie Sanders’ supporters as “broke and delusional.” In the audio of the remarks, which security officials believe was originally hacked by Russian government operatives and then later posted by the Washington Free Beacon, Clinton is highlighting the “sense of disappointment among young people in politics” and why they were driven to support Sanders.