The past year has not exactly been a good one for Asian-Americans. Back during the Republican primaries, fear-mongering politicians talked about Asian immigrants and their “anchor babies” in a way that portrayed an entire race as opportunists thronging to exploit America and its resources on behalf of their offspring. After predicating his campaign on deranged anti-immigrant rhetoric, the Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gleefully mocked the Chinese and Japanese using broken, accented English during a campaign rally in Iowa. In August, he included Filipinos on a list of potentially terrorist immigrants and said, “We’re dealing with animals.” (There were also North Africans and Middle Easterners on his list.) During the first Presidential debate, China was mentioned twelve times, mostly by Trump, as a threat and hindrance to America’s growth.
Then, on Monday night, Fox News ran a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” that Bill O’Reilly, the show’s host, called “gentle fun.” It was so relentlessly odious and flagrantly racist that if you were a Chinese immigrant, like me (I came to America when I was eight years old, and am now a citizen), you began to wonder, with a twist of dread, if prejudice had somehow become infectious. How many of my fellow-Americans were laughing at the bigotry along with O’Reilly and his perennial sidekick, Jesse Watters?
This is not the first time that Watters, a Fox News reporter with a Stifler-esque swagger who does not tend to break actual news but has repeatedly praised Trump as the “winning” guy, has targeted minority communities. Back in April, he visited Harlem, ostensibly to investigate the reasons for Hillary Clinton’s success among black voters. He ended up posing hard-hitters like “Are there any downsides to having a woman President?” “Watters’ World,” as his man-on-the-street segment is called, seems an appropriate title for a correspondent who seems insistent on inflicting himself and his world views upon hapless strangers.
But his latest “scoop” from Chinatown, a five-minute video, is so chock full of wince-inducing stereotypes that the casual watcher may confuse it with a grade-school educational video about the hazards of discrimination. If only. “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?” Watters says to passersby, before asking a watch vender if his merchandise is stolen. He turns a foot masseuse’s silence at his innuendo-laden commentary into a joke. Occasionally, the screen cuts to clips of “The Karate Kid” or—what else?—to kung-fu movies, because, obviously_,_ that is the cultural heritage of all Chinese immigrants. Not that Watters cares enough to learn that the Chinese, even in Chinatown, speak more than one regional dialect, or that there is a difference between what is Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. In a stunning thirty-second clip, Watters asks a man if he knows karate (a Japanese style of martial arts) and then, confusingly enough, proceeds to attempt Tae Kwon Do (a Korean style of martial arts) with nunchucks (which originated in Japan). The point is clear: no one can tell these Orientals apart anyway! (The same smirk was present on Wednesday, when Watters tweeted out a non-apology as the backlash against his segment mounted: “My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense,” he wrote, as if the problem were that the concept of a joke had to be explained to the humorless Chinese.)
As I write this, I fear that I am projecting more bravado than I feel. True, the rational, reflective part of me is indignant and affronted. It asks: How can it be that the fastest-growing racial group in America, one that has doubled its share of the electorate in the past decade, is subjected to such crass caricature on national TV? But the other part is a Chinese-American woman who viscerally feels the heat of humiliation as Watters attempts to grind on the street with two Asian-American women while the screen inexplicably cuts to clips of Japanese schoolgirls dancing in pigtails and skimpy uniforms; who feels inward embarrassment when subtitles are inserted for an Asian Hillary supporter who speaks accented but perfectly intelligible English; whose stomach involuntarily drops when Watters harangues an elderly woman who clearly understands little English but is too timid or polite to walk away from an aggressive white man yelling about “Trump beating up on China.”
At one point, Watters talks to a young man who is helping in his family store, which the host determines sells traditional herbs. Is there anything that helps with “performance,” he asks, with a sideways smile. There is a flicker of abashed comprehension on the young man’s face. “Um, I’m not going to ask my parents about that,” he says. Then Watters delivers the I-caught-you-acknowledging-my-stereotype punchline: “I mean on television!”
It all seems so backward, but, then again, so is bullying. Watching “Watters’ World: Chinatown Edition,” I am reflexively reminded of the shame I felt as a young immigrant with a tenuous grasp of the English language and American culture, whose insecurity mutated into mortification on behalf of my Chinese parents and an inexorable fear that I might remain like them, a perpetual foreigner and an inferior American doomed forever to be at the mercy of those like Watters. To legitimize myself as a proper citizen of this country, there are times when I have wondered, despite myself, how much distance I must place between myself and those whom Watters and Trump feel free to mock. What must I do to impress the bully?
This is the psycho-social climate of intimidation with which the Trump campaign has bedevilled the country. That a buffoon with deplorable manners can endlessly exercise his right to self-satisfied idiocy is a scary thing. Scarier still are the tiny seeds of self-doubt he sows in each one of us who has ever been led to believe that those who insult us might somehow be better than us, that we should be the ones who are embarrassed. That such a man could, one day soon, be the leader of a nation built by immigrants—now, that’s a new kind of fear, and of shame.
Fox News Host Expresses Regret Over Controversial Chinatown Segment
Fox News host Jesse Watters said he had “regret” Wednesday over a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor” that drew accusations of racism due to its portrayal of Chinese-Americans.
“My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense,” he wrote in the non-apology. “As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are.”
In the “Watter’s World” segment, the host was sent to Chinatown in New York to “find out what folks think about the 2016 election” after China was mentioned 12 times during the first presidential debate.
Watters asked random passers by political questions such as “Do you like Donald Trump?” and “Who you going to vote for?” but also other questions like “Is it the year of the dragon…rabbit?” and “Do they call Chinese food in China just food?”
Towards the end of the segment, Watters abandons questioning around the presidential election and instead visits a karate dojo, swings some nunchuks and receives a foot massage.
Many Asian-Americans reacted with disgust to the segment, and the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has demanded an apology, calling it “rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging.”
“We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race. Sadly, Fox News proves it has a long way to go in reporting on communities of color in a respectful and fair manner,” AAJA president Paul Cheung said.
Even after Watters attempted to smooth things over, the AAJA issued another statement. “It’s one thing to be ‘tongue-in-cheek,'” the statement reads. “It is something entirely different to hide behind the guise of political humor while using racial stereotypes.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in on Twitter, writing, “The vile, racist behavior of Fox’s Jesse Watters in Chinatown has no place in our city. FoxNews – keep this guy off TV.”
Fox News labelled the segment “hilarious” on its website and Bill O’Reilly defended the bit, seeming to know that it would draw controversy.
“It’s gentle fun, so I know we’re going to get letters — inevitable,” O’Reilly said.
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LOS ANGELES Watchdog and activist groups are outraged by a Fox News Channel segment in which an interviewer asked people in New York’s Chinatown if he was supposed to bow to greet them, if they were selling stolen goods and if they could “take care of North Korea for us.”
Several organizations condemned humorist Jesse Watters’ piece on “The O’Reilly Factor,” calling it racist and demeaning to Asian-Americans.
“It’s 2016. We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race,” Asian American Journalists Association President Paul Cheung said in a letter to Fox and posted online. He is director of interactive and digital news production for The Associated Press.
Cheung called on Fox to apologize to the Asian-American community and asked for “an explanation for how this type of coverage will be prevented in the future.”
Watters asked people on the street about the presidential race, sought a demonstration of karate and showed footage of him getting a pedicure.
At one point in Monday’s nearly five-minute segment, an elderly woman’s silence in response to a query was paired with a clip from Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” in which Madeline Kahn shouts, “Speak, speak, why don’t you speak?!”
Gregory A. Cendana, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, criticized the report.
The coverage, including making “fun” of the Chinese elder, “played into the exoticization and status of perpetual foreigner” of the Asian-American community, Cendana said in a statement.
After the “Watters World” report concluded, Bill O’Reilly called it “gentle fun,” adding, “we’re gonna get letters, inevitably.”
On Wednesday, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation said it was outraged by the “blatant, racist and offensive stereotypes of Chinese Americans.”
“It is unconscionable that a news organization would sanction a segment that laughs at a community of people, including Watters ridiculing elderly Chinese Americans who were limited English-proficient,” the group said.
Asked for comment, Fox directed attention to two Twitter posts Wednesday by Watters.
“As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are,” he wrote.
“My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense,” Watters’ second tweet said.
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Chinatown Responds as Fox Reporter Defends 'Tongue-In-Cheek' Segment
Qanta Shimizu was leaving a Chase Bank in Manhattan’s Chinatown last week, the day of the presidential debate, when he was approached by a television interviewer with a microphone.
"He just needs to understand, respect the culture. ... Don't taint the beautifulness of this country with your [disrespect].”
“As a Chinese, what do you think about Donald Trump,” asked Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters, according to Shimizu.
“I said, ‘No, I’m Japanese, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question,’” Shimizu, who recalled his encounter during an interview with NBC News Thursday afternoon, said.
Shimizu said he was never asked a follow-up about how he, as a Japanese person, viewed Trump. But a question on karate was slipped in by Watters, who does on-street interviews for a segment called “Watters’ World,” which airs on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Fortunately for Shimizu, he’d been studying the martial art with a Ukrainian karate master, he said.
“[Watters] asked me to punch, and that was taken in the picture,” Shimizu said, adding that he wasn’t happy with the resulting video, which opened with the song “Kung Fu Fighting.”
RELATED: Civil Rights Groups Criticize Fox News for 'Racist and Offensive' Chinatown Segment
Shimizu was one of a number of Asian Americans who found themselves featured on the “Chinatown Edition” of “Watters’ World,” a segment that has sparked outrage this week among people throughout the country, including members of civil rights organizations and elected officials.
While the segment was billed as an attempt to understand the political views of people in Chinatown, what emerged, critics say, was a roughly three-and-a-half minute video montage that perpetuated entrenched stereotypes of Chinese and Asian Americans.
Reaction to the segment was swift from state and federally elected officials, including New York State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY). Along with several dozen community members, Kim and Meng participated in a news conference Thursday afternoon outside Fox News headquarters in Manhattan, criticizing the news organization for broadcasting the video.
“This segment definitely crossed the line,” Meng said. “It was in bad taste and a very poor attempt at humor.”
Kim used the words “offensive” and “racist” to describe the segment.
“We are calling on Fox News to issue an official apology and completely retract this clip,” Kim said. “We are also prepared to take this fight to the next level by calling for public boycotts of all corporations who sponsor this show until they comply with our community’s demands.”
Thursday night on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," comedian Ronny Chieng delivered a profanity-laced message directed at Watters that included Chieng going to Manhattan's Chinatown to speak seriously with Asian Americans about politics.
In response to the backlash, Watters tweeted earlier this week that "my man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense." He added in a second message that "as a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are."
According to the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), “The O’Reilly Factor” invited AAJA president Paul Cheung to appear on its Friday show — but Cheung declined. Instead, AAJA countered by inviting Watters, his producers, and Fox News staff to attend a town hall at the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown, scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
“We appreciate the invitation to educate Bill O’Reilly and his audience on the offensive nature of the ‘Watters’ World’ segment,” AAJA wrote on its webpage. “However, we believe meaningful engagement can occur only if there is significant dialogue not just with us, but with the broader community.”
It wasn’t immediately clear if Fox News would issue an apology or plans to attend the town hall.
On Thursday afternoon, NBC News visited the Manhattan Chinatown neighborhood where the “Watters’ World” segment was filmed, speaking with more than a half-dozen Asian Americans in both English and Mandarin.
Many expressed a range of views on the presidential race, some supporting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, some Republican nominee Donald Trump, and some neither. They named immigration, healthcare, job creation, and foreign policy as some of the key issues in this election season. All of them are topics of importance raised by respondents in a survey of Asian-American registered voters released on Wednesday.
While most said they were ineligible to cast ballots this November — many explained that they were green-card holders or not citizens — their responses offered an alternative narrative to the one depicted in the "Watters’ World" segment, which was roundly denounced for filming an elderly Chinese woman and man unable to answer questions on the candidates in English, presumably because of a language barrier.
For Scott Huang, a 28-year-old Taiwanese American from Queens, neither candidate makes a good choice for president, he said. Trump, on the one hand, comes off as a “spoiled brat” with a “big mouth,” Huang said. Clinton, on the other, is not “amazing,” but “at least she has a team,” he said.
“Her husband used to be president,” added Huang. “If something really goes wrong, I think Bill Clinton maybe can give her some advice.”
Huang continued, “I think she has leadership. I like someone more calm. Trump is way too much.”
“This segment definitely crossed the line. It was in bad taste and a very poor attempt at humor.”
Peixian Jiang, a 20-year-old working at a bakery, said in Mandarin that she wouldn’t vote for either candidate. She called Clinton’s rhetoric “sharp” at times, and said the former secretary of state’s viewpoints can come across as “too extreme,” though she didn’t offer specific examples.
A few doors down at AE Company, which sells Chinese herbs, customer Hai Li also said he likes neither Trump nor Clinton. He said he feels Trump attacks all types of people, regardless of race or ethnicity. Asked whom he would vote for if he could, Li replied in Mandarin, “There is no good choice.”
But Yan Chen, a middle-aged woman behind the counter, quickly added in that she would cast a ballot for Trump.
“I like his policies on education, immigration, and the economy,” Chen said in Mandarin, without getting into specifics.
RELATED: Clinton Holds 41-Point Lead Over Trump Among Asian-American Voters: Survey
The Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey, conducted between Aug. 10 and Sept. 29 in 11 different languages, found that 14 percent of Asian-American registered voters intended to vote for Trump, compared to 55 percent for Clinton. Some 16 percent were still undecided, according to the survey.
For Chinese, in particular, 53 percent said they were behind Clinton, while 12 percent backed Trump, the survey reported. One in five didn’t know or refused to answer.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for roughly five percent of eligible voters and six percent of the United States resident population, according to Karthick Ramakrishnan, the director of the survey and a public policy professor at the University of California, Riverside.
For those in Chinatown who spoke with NBC News, immigration was among the topics they said they were paying attention to this election season. Wei Lun Wong, a 20-year-old from Malaysia working at an ice cream shop in Manhattan's Lower East Side, said he believes in legal immigration and said he appreciated Trump’s overall experience.
Asked if he liked the real-estate mogul’s attitude, however, he responded with a simple, “No.”
While Wong acknowledged that he prefers Trump, he also said he worries he could be sent back to his native Malaysia if the billionaire becomes president.
“That’s the irony,” he said, laughing.
RELATED: Immigration, Diversity Front and Center at 'Quad-Partisan' Presidential Election Forum
For Shimizu, the Japanese man who appeared on Watters’ World, healthcare remains a serious issue, he said. He added that he’s a Clinton supporter and wants to prevent a Trump presidency.
“Health insurance is horrible in this country compared with my country,” said Shimizu, the founder and chief technology officer of a design firm with an office in Chinatown.
When asked about the “Watters’ World” segment, Asian Americans in Chinatown expressed mixed reaction over how the clip came across to them.
Chen, the AE Company employee, said simply that “it wasn’t fair,” adding it “discriminated against Chinese.” Li, the customer, pointed out that freedom of speech exists in the U.S.
"However, we believe meaningful engagement can occur only if there is significant dialogue not just with us, but with the broader community.”
But for Shimizu, who said he didn’t know beforehand how his interview with Watters would be used, the segment was offensive and “was more horrible than I thought,” he said.
Having lived in New York City for three years, Shimizu said he’s comfortable working in the Big Apple and enjoys its diversity, even though sometimes he has struggled to survive and has encountered some bad experiences.
Asked what he would say to Watters if given the chance, Shimizu said, “I [would] talk about, what is culture? ... He just needs to understand, respect the culture. ... Don't taint the beautifulness of this country with your [disrespect].”
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Chris Fuchs is a freelance journalist based in New York. His articles have appeared in Foreign Policy and the Taipei Times and in Chinese on ETToday.net, a popular Taiwanese news website.
Traci G. Lee and Charles Lam contributed.
2016 watters world
American television commentator
Watters in 2020
|Born|| (1978-07-09) July 9, 1978 (age 43)|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Alma mater||Trinity College (BA)|
|Political party||New York Conservative|
Noelle K. Inguagiato
(m. 2009; div. 2018)
Jesse Bailey Watters (born July 9, 1978) is an American conservative political commentator on Fox News. He frequently appeared on the political talk show The O'Reilly Factor and was known for his man-on-the-street interviews, featured in his segment of the show, "Watters' World." In January 2017, Watters became the host of a weekly Watters' World show, and in April 2017, he became a co-host of the roundtable series The Five.
In 2021, he published his first book, How I Saved the World. The work debuted at number one on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list.
Early life and education
Watters was born in July 1978 and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the Germantown and then East Falls neighborhoods. He attended the William Penn Charter School through junior year, before moving with his family to Long Island in New York. In 2001, he graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with a B.A. in history.
After his graduation, Watters began work as a production assistant at Fox News. In 2003, he moved to the production staff of The O'Reilly Factor, and in 2004 he began to appear on air in segments of O'Reilly's show.
On June 11, 2014, Watters debuted on the Fox News show Outnumbered, later occasionally appearing as a guest co-host. On November 20, 2015, Watters debuted his own monthly Fox News program, Watters' World. While Watters is characterized as an "ambush journalist", Watters has said, "I try to make it enjoyable for the person I'm interviewing. We always come away from the interview all smiles, for the most part. And it's always fun to come back and look at the footage and say, 'Oh my gosh, what just happened?'" In January 2017, Watters' World became a weekly show, airing Saturdays at 8 p.m. ET.
In April 2017, Watters became a co-host of the roundtable series The Five.
In April 2021, HarperCollins announced the publication of Watters' new book How I Saved the World, which was published on July 6. The book debuted at number one on The New York Times nonfiction best-seller list for the week ending July 10, 2021.
Watters has drawn criticism for numerous provocative statements.
In January 2017, Watters faulted John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, for the theft of Podesta's emails by Russian hackers, saying, "What happened was John Podesta gave his password to a hacker. And guess what his password was. 'Password.' It's a true story. His password was 'password.'" The fact-checking website PolitiFact rated Watters' claim "False."
According to Media Matters, on climate change, Watters has stated, "You can fight climate change with suntan lotion. It's not that big of a deal." Regarding President Donald Trump's policy of separating children from their families, Watters argued that "some would say it's a more humane policy" than keeping them together.
Amanda Terkel "ambush"
In 2009, on assignment for The O'Reilly Factor, Watters and his cameraman accosted journalist Amanda Terkel while she was on vacation to ask her questions about an article she wrote that was critical of Bill O'Reilly.
Seven years later, at a journalists' reception, The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim approached Watters with his phone camera running and asked him to walk over to Terkel and apologize. Watters at first said he would apologize and then said he wouldn't, adding, "I ambushed her because O'Reilly told me to get her because she said some bad shit."
Video of the incident shows Watters then grabbing Grim's phone and throwing it on the floor, and later grabbing it again and putting it in his pocket. Eventually, the two got into a shoving match, as Grim attempted to recover his phone. Watters later commented on the incident on The O'Reilly Factor, stating, "I was at this party trying to enjoy myself. This guy came up to me. He starts putting it in my face."
Terkel wrote that Watters' response was "surprising," considering that "Watters' way of confronting his subjects is to thrust cameras in their faces unexpectedly and pepper them with aggressive questions."
In October 2016, Watters was criticized for a segment of Watters' World that was widely considered racist toward Asian Americans. In New York City's Chinatown, Watters asked Chinese Americans if they knew karate (which originates from Japan, not China), if he should bow before he greets them, or if their watches were stolen. Throughout the segment, the 1974 song "Kung Fu Fighting" plays in the background, and the interviews are interspersed with references to martial arts and clips of Watters getting a foot massage and playing with nunchucks. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio denounced Watters' segment as "vile, racist behavior" that "has no place in our city". Numerous other lawmakers and journalists, including Asian Americans Mazie Hirono and Judy Chu, also condemned Watters. The segment was also criticized by the Asian American Journalists Association, which issued a statement saying, "We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race."
On October 5, Watters tweeted what Variety's Will Thorne called a "non-apology" about the segment. In the two tweets, Watters stated that "My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense. ... As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters' World segments are."
In April 2017, two days after joining The Five as co-host, Watters made an on-air comment about Ivanka Trump that was criticized as lewd. After viewing footage of Trump speaking on a panel about female entrepreneurship, Watters commented, "So I don't really get what's going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone," as he parodied holding the microphone as a phallic symbol. Watters denied his comment was sexual, saying in a statement, "During the break we were commenting on Ivanka's voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ... This was in no way a joke about anything else." In response to the criticism, Watters was not on the show for two days that week.
In July 2020, Jesse Watters praised the conspiracy theory QAnon during his show, saying that "they've also uncovered a lot of great stuff when it comes to Epstein and it comes to the deep state. I never saw Q as dangerous as antifa." After a press backlash, Watters released a statement saying that "I mentioned the conspiracy group QAnon, which I don’t support or believe in. My comments should not be mistaken for giving credence to this fringe platform."
Watters is registered to vote as a member of the Conservative Party of New York State. He was married to Noelle Inguagiato Watters and shares twin daughters with her. Noelle and Jesse divorced in 2018 after Watters allegedly admitted to having an affair with Emma DiGiovine, a producer on his show. Watters announced his engagement to Emma DiGiovine in August 2019; the two were subsequently married. They have one son, born in 2021.
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- ^Watters, Jesse [@JesseBWatters] (August 25, 2019). "Emma and I would like to announce our engagement!" (Tweet). Retrieved August 26, 2019 – via Twitter.
- ^Creitz, Charles (April 1, 2021). "'Watters' World' adds one: Jesse Watters and wife Emma welcome baby boy". Fox News. Retrieved April 3, 2021.
I led the red-haired anarchist two hundred meters from the church, holding her hand. And he turned to the first house standing not far from the temple. In this small house, which has preserved intact glass on the windows. Vitka, Marina and I, on the second day of our stay in Pletnevka.
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My neck. Slowly and carefully, I fell on my back, trying not to disturb her. Trustingly leaning, absolutely relaxed, still in the grip of a sweet fog that enveloped her mind, Tina settled down on me. Never letting go of a member. With careful movements of her fingertips, as if fearing to break the born harmony, she began to touch my hair.