Fox News’ Jesse Watters went to New York’s Chinatown to ask people what they thought of Donald Trump and Chinese-American relations for The O’Reilly Factor.
Or at least that’s what he said he was doing. What Watters was really doing was making fun of the people he encountered with the broadest, dumbest Asian stereotypes imaginable — making it clear they were there as props for him and his viewers for what he clearly considered a hilarious joke, rather than to actually give their opinions.
"Am I supposed to bow to say hello?" Waters starts by asking two women. He accuses a street vendor of selling stolen goods. He adds subtitles to a man speaking perfectly comprehensible, if accented, English.
It does not get better from there. By the end, Watters has asked a bystander if it’s "the year of the dragon," asked another if he knows karate (which is commonly associated with Japan), tries to grind against two young women, and, satisfyingly, had his attempt to speak Chinese criticized by the last man he talked to.
Watters has a long record of creating segments for "Watters’ World" often aimed at making ordinary people look stupid. But it’s notable that this segment didn’t work — even though jokes about Asian stereotypes are one of the few racial jokes that are still deemed acceptable by TV producers, though they shouldn’t be.
O’Reilly pronounces himself impressed that Asian people who live in the US could answer basic questions about the presidential election. "It seemed like everyone was aware of what’s going on," he says, even though "some people say it’s very insulated and they don’t interact with American politics."
After Watters's segment created an uproar, he apologized, sort of, on Twitter on Wednesday:
As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are.— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) October 5, 2016
My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) October 5, 2016