Fox News drew a bit of controversy today when a clip from a recent O’Reilly Factor episode began spreading on social media. The clip comes from a “Watter’s World” segment, which sees O’Reilly Factor correspondent Jesse Watters doing his best to prove that a conservative network like Fox News is just as good at humor as the godless heathens at The Daily Show or whatever. Unfortunately, this particular attempt at humor involved Watters going to Chinatown in New York and acting as if he’s not only never met a Chinese person in his life, but that Chinese people in general are just hilariously different. If that sounds a bit racist, here’s the whole clip for some important context:
See, it’s not “a bit” racist at all. O’Reilly himself seems to recognize that it could be controversial, noting that they’re “going to get letters” about the segment, but he’s clearly not disturbed by that at all as he chats with Watters about the interesting ways these people reacted to this strange man putting a microphone in their face. O’Reilly says it was all “gentle fun,” which is apparently what you call it when you mock someone just because English isn’t necessarily their first language.
The Asian American Journalists Association doesn’t quite see it as gentle fun, and it has denounced the segment as “rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory, and damaging” in an official statement. The organization is calling for an apology from Fox News, saying that “we should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race,” noting that the network “has a long way to go in reporting on communities of color in a respectful and fair manner.”
Watters has taken to Twitter to apologize, explaining that his Chinatown segment was “intended to be a light piece” and was “meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek.” He also adds, “I regret if anyone found offense,” which is a clever bit of wordplay that doesn’t actually mean “I’m sorry” so much as it means “I’m sorry you got offended.”
That’s close enough, right?