Lawmakers Condemn “Vile” And “Xenophobic” O’Reilly Factor Chinatown Segment
Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN
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.”
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.”
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.