Fox News is rewarding Jesse Watters with a prime-time slot on the panel show The Five as part of the shakeup caused by Bill O’Reilly’s ouster. Watters, a former O’Reilly producer and longtime protégé, was widely condemned last year for a racist segment set in New York City’s Chinatown. His ambush interviews have disparaged immigrants, women, African-Americans, the homeless, and members of the LGBTQ community, and he earned notoriety for an incident in which he “followed, harassed, and ambushed” a female journalist on camera.
Watters Gets Promoted To The Five As Part Of O’Reilly Shakeup
Watters Will Replace Eric Bolling When The Program Moves To 9 P.M. In light of O’Reilly’s dismissal from Fox News after numerous allegations of sexual harassment triggered an advertiser boycott, the network announced that Tucker Carlson’s program would move to O’Reilly’s 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time slot and The Five would move to 9 p.m., with Watters replacing Eric Bolling, who will debut a new 5 p.m. show. [Fox News press release, 4/19/17, via Twitter]
Watters Is O’Reilly’s “Designated Hit Man.” According to The Associated Press, Watters is an O’Reilly “protégé” who “joined Fox News as a production assistant in 2002 and began working on O'Reilly a year later, eventually given an on-air role. He's often O'Reilly's designated hit man, going out on ‘ambush’ interviews to confront people whose views the host has judged questionable.” [The Associated Press, 4/19/2017]
Watters' Despicable History At Fox
Fox News’ Jesse Watters Was Responsible For Widely Condemned “Chinatown” Segment “Rife With Racist Stereotypes.” During the October 3 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly ran a segment featuring Jesse Watters asking offensive, stereotype-laden questions to Asian-Americans in New York City’s Chinatown such as, “Do you know karate?” and “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?” Lawmakers condemned Watters’ segment as “vile” and “xenophobic,” and the president of the Asian American Journalists Association described it as “rife with racist stereotypes.”
[Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 10/3/16]
Watters Has Repeatedly Produced Dehumanizing Coverage Of New York's Homeless Population. As a correspondent of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Watters has repeatedly produced mocking, dehumanizing coverage of the homeless residents in New York. In one segment Watters asked a young girl, “Do you ever feel scared when you see homeless people?” Watters continued his dehumanizing coverage the following month, agreeing with host Bill O'Reilly that homeless people “shouldn't be allowed to destroy neighborhoods.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/29/15; 7/27/15]
Watters: “Affirmative-Action ... Handouts, The Welfare State,” And Obamacare Exist To Eradicate Sins Of Slavery. While guest-hosting the June 25 edition of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, Watters asked whether “white supremacy causes African-American men to not get married to women that they have babies with,” and suggested that “affirmative action ... handouts, the welfare state, Obamacare” all exist “to make sure that the sins of slavery have been eradicated.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/25/15]
Watters Said Single Women “Depend On Government” Because They Don't Have Husbands To Depend On. On the July 1, 2014, edition of Fox's Outnumbered, Watters mocked Hillary Clinton's statements on reproductive rights and argued that Clinton was trying to get “the single lady's vote ... the Beyoncé voters” who “depend on government because they're not depending on their husbands.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/1/14]
Watters Made Both A Sexist Comment And Mocked Immigrants During A Segment About New York City Cab Drivers. The July 1, 2013, edition of The O'Reilly Factor aired a segment in which Watters interviewed New York city immigrant cab drivers, mocking their accents and referring to a female driver as a “babe, with the red dress ... the nicest dressed taxi cab driver I've ever seen.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/1/13]
Watters Suggested Statutory Rape Of An Adolescent Boy Isn't As Bad If The Female Perpetrator Is Attractive. While appearing as a guest on Fox's Outnumbered, Watters suggested the statutory rape of a 16-year-old boy wasn't as bad if the female perpetrator is attractive, stating, “If you're a 16-year-old kid and you have sex with your best friend's mom, you usually get high fives.” Watters continued, “She's not that attractive, so you might not have that kind of reception.” When pressed, he went on to justify his comment by saying, “This is how regular guys think.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/11/14]
Watters Joined Bill O'Reilly In Laughter While Speculating On Interviewee's Gender Identity. During his “Watters' World” segment on the October 15 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Watters mockingly speculated on an interviewee's gender identity and joined host Bill O'Reilly in laughter:
BILL O'REILLY: Now, that person, she can't vote because she has felonies?
JESSE WATTERS: She has felonies, and I asked her which felonies and she couldn't remember.
O'REILLY: I don't know if that was a she, though.
WATTERS: He. He-she?
O'REILLY: It was -- right.
WATTERS: I don't make those types of judgments.
O'REILLY: You didn't get the resume?
WATTERS: No. I didn't want to.
O'REILLY: No? You didn't get --
WATTERS: It's OK.
O'REILLY: OK. We're not making fun, we're trying to define. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 10/15/15]
Watters Has Mocked Expressions Of LGBT Pride And Perpetuated Damaging Stereotypes About The LGBT Community. In 2014, Watters went to San Francisco's annual pride parade to interview attendees, producing a segment in which he played on tired and disparaging tropes by perpetuating false conservative stereotypes that depict gay people as promiscuous or predatory. After his segment, Watters told O'Reilly, “No one assaulted me.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/8/14]
Watters Produced A Transphobic Segment About New York's Mermaid Parade. During the July 11, 2013, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, the “Watters World” segment followed Watters as he mockingly interviewed attendees to Brooklyn's historic Mermaid Parade, stigmatizing the transgender community with disparaging comments and including an inserted clip that featured a character vomiting into a toilet. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 7/11/13]
Watters Defended Trump's Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric, Saying He Wouldn't Let “Illegal Aliens” Come And “Murder Our Women.” While appearing as a guest host on Fox's Outnumbered on July 15, 2015, Jesse Watters defended Donald Trump's disparaging rhetoric against immigrants, saying “President Trump” wouldn't “let illegal aliens come to the country and murder our women.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/15/15]
ThinkProgress: Watters “Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed” A Journalist Who Had Criticized Bill O'Reilly While She Was On Vacation. After highlighting Bill O'Reilly's track record of victim-blaming rape survivors in a March 2009 story for ThinkProgress, former managing editor Amanda Terkel reported that she herself had been “ambushed” and “accosted” by Watters while on vacation. As reported by Terkel:
This weekend, while on vacation, I was ambushed by O'Reilly's top hit man, producer Jesse Watters, who accosted me on the street and told me that because I highlighted O'Reilly's comments, I was causing “pain and suffering” to rape victims and their families. He of course offered no proof to back up this claim, instead choosing to shout questions at me.
I expect O'Reilly to air this “interview” at some point this week, possibly as early as tonight. I have no expectation that he will show the entire altercation or give the entire story about what happened, so here is the full account, offering a glimpse inside the O'Reilly harrassment machine:
-- The Stalking: Watters and his camera man accosted me at approximately 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 21, in Winchester, VA, which is a two-hour drive from Washington, DC. My friend and I were in this small town for a short weekend vacation and had told no one about where we were going. I can only infer that the two men staked out my apartment and then followed me for two hours. Looking back, my friend and I remember seeing their tan SUV following us for much of the trip.
-- The Ambush: Shortly after checking into our lodgings, we emerged and immediately saw two men walking toward us calling out my name. Watters said he was from Fox News, but never said his or his companion's name, nor did he say he was with The O'Reilly Factor.
-- The Surprise Attack: Watters immediately began asking me why I was causing “pain and suffering” to the Alexa Foundation. He never gave me the context for his questions. Confused, I repeatedly asked him what he was talking about and whether he could refresh my memory, but he just continued shouting his question.
-- The Evasion: I said that it was inappropriate for O'Reilly to imply that just because a woman may be drunk and/or dressed in a certain way, she should expect to be raped. Watters asked me whether I had listened to the interview (which I had) and claimed that O'Reilly had made the comments in the context of a commentary on Mel Gibson/drunkenness. When I tried to ascertain why he was attacking ThinkProgress in particular -- even though other sites had also covered the story -- he said that we were part of the “smear pipeline,” which also included the “Soros-funded” Media Matters. He ignored my comments when I asked if Fox News also smears people.
-- Setting A Guilt Trap: Watters ended the charade by demanding that I look into the camera and apologize to the Alexa Foundation and rape victims. I told them that I don't speak through Fox News and if someone from the Alexa Foundation would like to personally call me, I'd be happy to speak with that person.
-- More Stalking: The camera man then continued to film me as I walked down the block. After a few minutes while I waited at the light to cross the street, Watters called him back and they left. [ThinkProgress, 3/23/09]