In response to widespread outrage over his “Watters’ World” segment ambushing the people of Chinatown with offensive, racist questions, the Fox News correspondent issued a “That’s humor, folks!” and “Sorry you were offended” set of tweets:
No one is having it. The O’Reilly Factor’s set-up of the segment itself made a troubling choice in linking Donald Trump’s anti-China comments in the presidential debate to New York’s Chinatown, reinforcing the stereotype that Chinese-Americans are perpetual foreigners. From there, Watters’ segment plunged into the worst tropes of cultural mockery, as he directed questions about karate and virility-enhancing herbs to passersby, mocked those who didn’t understand English, and interjected commentary like, “So China can keep ripping us off,” in response to a resident saying she would vote for Hillary Clinton.
As O’Reilly noted in the follow-up with Watters, “I know we’re going to get letters.” But he added insult to injury by saying he was surprised that the “insulated” residents of Chinatown seemed to know who the two major presidential candidates were. As the Asian American Journalists’ Association issued in its response to Watters, “Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in mainstream news.”
Indeed, as my colleague Ryu Spaeth noted yesterday, the burgeoning (and now Democratic-leaning) Asian-American electorate will be a crucial factor in this election and elections to come. Fox News has made it clear where it stands: continuing to entrench the Republican Party in its nativist and xenophobic fringe.