Fox News has settled on Jesse Watters as the permanent host of its 7 p.m. hour, a year after The Story with Martha MacCallum was moved to an earlier time and replaced by a rotating series of hosts. Watters has a long history at the network. Starting out as a production assistant and then quickly making his on-screen debut as a correspondent on The O’Reilly Factor, Watters has repeatedly been at the center of controversy, taking heat for his frat boy brand of racism, extreme insensitivity, and sexist on-air gaffes.
In the pandemic era, Watters’ commentary on COVID-19 has been filled with dangerous lies. Recently, he fantasized about “ambush[ing]” Dr. Anthony Fauci with a gotcha question while speaking to an audience of young right-wing activists at a Turning Point USA event. He told them “all you need” is “30 seconds” of a viral video to “go in for the kill shot” to embarrass the public health official. Watters’ remarks came hours after a member of that same audience asked far-right media personality and Trump affiliate Sebastian Gorka when it would be time to overthrow the government.
As a co-host of the 5 p.m. show The Five, Watters attacked “this generation” for taking COVID-19 precautions seriously, claimed Biden is letting in “COVID caravans,” compared vaccine and testing requirements to the forced sterilization of disabled women, called for the southern border to be closed as a means to mitigate the delta variant, promoted the use of bogus COVID-19 cure hydroxychloroquine, said teachers “have to act scared” during a pandemic because “that’s how they get paid,” and declared that Democrats want a “permanent pandemic.”
Watters has also supported former President Donald Trump’s attacks on democracy. A few days before the January 6 insurrection, Watters said, “We used to storm the castle over abuses of power like this. Now, we just raid the fridge. So in 2021, let's relight that great American spirit. Let's stand up to this den of thieves because they'll just keep robbing us blind until we actually do something about it.”
And after Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani held his infamous conspiracy theory-filled press conference in November 2020, Watters praised the spectacle as a “big shot of adrenaline” for the Trump campaign, and promoted Giuliani’s “hundreds of sworn affidavits” that supposedly demonstrated systemic fraud in the presidential election.
But the Fox host’s signature characteristic is his long history of on-air racism. A few examples from just the past year:
- Watters blamed the plight of Native Americans in the United States on “alcoholism” and “government dependency,” prompting a call from Native American groups for him to be fired.
- Watters said Democrats “only care when a white person takes a Black life. If a Black person takes a Black life, they don’t even care at all.”
- On a September edition of The Five, Watters opened the show by fearmongering about a “large-scale” release of migrants in the U.S., echoing Tucker Carlson’s employment of the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory.
- He declared “Muslim rage is the real threat” in the wake of 12 service members being killed in Afghanistan amid the U.S. withdrawal from the country in August.
- He said Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-MO) constituents “took a loudmouth off the streets and put her in Congress.”
- Watters said settlers “won this land on the battlefield” from Native Americans.
- In an interview with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), Watters said Democrats are “breaking the border on purpose” to “overwhelm the system in order to achieve more political power,” again referencing the “great replacement” conspiracy theory.
- He asked, “Why doesn’t the Democratic Party do something to stop Black Americans from hurting each other?”
- He attacked his Black co-host Juan Williams, saying he “is not oppressed; anyone that wears cuff links is not oppressed.”
- Watters again pushed the racist Black-on-Black crime narrative in his coverage of the killing of Daunte Wright, and said the media is “selling racism.”
7 p.m. on Fox, which was once a “straight news” hour, is now the domain of one of Fox's most cartoonish personalities. Jesse Watters has failed his way to the top of the network with his ridiculous persona, using racism, sexism, and conspiracy theories to get there. He’s perfect for this new job.