Fox News Airs Appallingly Racist anti-Asian Segment

October 5, 2016
Jesse Watters interviews people in NYC's Chinatown during a segment that aired on October 3, 2016. (Photo credit: Fox News)
Jesse Watters interviews people in NYC’s Chinatown during a segment that aired on October 3, 2016. (Photo credit: Fox News)

This is a new low, even for Fox News.

Earlier this week, Fox’s O’Reilly Factor aired a jaw-droppingly racist segment about Asian Americans as part of its “Watters’ World” features. In it, Fox correspondent Jesse Watters traveled to New York City’s Chinatown under the auspices of discovering what Asian American voters thought about Donald trump and the presidential election.

Rather than to approach pollsters and researchers who professionally study Asian Americans’ and Pacific Islanders’ political attitudes — and who released an updated report this week on AAPI opinions, showing low support among AAPIs for the Republican Party and the race-baiting of the Trump campaign — Watters instead went for a man-on-the-street approach.

Actually, correction: Jesse Watters went for a holy-crap-that’s-so-racist-man-on-the-street approach. Because, why bother with investigative journalism when you can instead fill five minutes pretending to report about a growing but largely overlooked elecorate by being an offensive, annoying asshole to total strangers?

In a matter of a few minutes, Watters manages to invoke a breath-taking array of anti-Asian stereotypes. There are gongs, and bows, and chop suey fonts. There are jokes about massage parlours, and herbal medicines, and illegal activity. There is inexplicable karate (which isn’t even Chinese). There is street harassment. Watters accosts Chinatown residents who are clearly English-language limited, and portrays their language difficulties as political ignorance. There’s probably more racist, stereotypical crap that I’m forgetting to list.

The segment culminates with a chat between Watters and host Bill O’Reilly where both invoke Model Minority stereotypes of Asian Americans as polite, quiet and apolitical. We shouldn’t be surprised, I guess. The tired canard of the Model Minority Myth is O’Reilly’s favorite talking point.

Earlier this year, I joined several other AAPI advocates to pen an open letter to cable news networks about the persistent underrepresentation and misrepresentation of AAPI on their news offerings. Fox is among the worst offenders of prime time news networks: AAPIs comprise less than 2% of guests on their news programming and many recent on-air episodes of anti-Asian comments made by political pundits and commentators has occurred on Fox News’ shows.

As someone who follows this issue fairly closely, I’ve got to say this is among the most flamboyantly unapologetic anti-Asian segments I’ve seen to receive cable news airtime in the last several years. One can only wonder the dizzying list of Fox News editors and producers who had to decide that this highly racist segment passed muster before it made it on-air. One can only imagine how the presence of even just one or two AAPI among those decision-makers might have been able to halt this ill-advised, dehumanizing piece before it ever became this racist travesty.

This November, the Republican Party must win non-White voters in order to take the White House and down-ticket seats; they assessed as much in their post-2008 autopsy report. And yet, from politicians to pundits, the Right seems stubbornly committed to their confounding strategy of insulting and alienating all non-White electorates with obnoxious, gross, and unjustifiable statements and behaviour.

At the end of Watters’ segment, Bill O’Reilly predicted that they would get some angry letters about Watters’ piece. Damned right you’re going to get some angry letters about this segment’s unabashed racism; consider this one mine.

Update: This story is receiving widespread media coverage as the community mobilizes against Fox News. This follow-up post will receive periodic updates to round-up the ongoing coverage of this story.

I created this petition to help make our voices heard on this outrageous example of network news racism. Please sign and share widely:

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