Fox News’ Racist Chinatown Segment Sparks Outrage
It highlights a deeper issue about how Asians are treated in the media.
Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, GOP-nominee Donald Trump has accused China of ripping off America through lopsided trade deals and currency manipulation. To see how Chinese-Americans feel about the candidate, Jesse Watters from Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor went to New York City’s Chinatown to get some opinions. But what he delivered was four minutes of over-the-top racist Asian stereotypes.
Throughout his report, Watters mocks elderly immigrants who can’t speak English and cracks countless stereotype-filled jokes. He also shows a complete lack of understanding of Chinese culture by making several references to karate—a Japanese martial art.
Here’s an incomplete list of racist moments in the segment:
1. Watters accuses a street vendor of selling stolen goods
2. Watters asks a man if he knows karate (a Japanese martial art)
3. Watters asks a woman if he’s supposed to bow to her
4. “Kung-Fu Fighting” is played in the background which features the nine-note “stereotypical Asian theme”
5. The segment is intercut with footage Japanese-American actor Pat Morita (playing a Japanese character) from The Karate Kid
6. Watters mocks an elderly man and woman who do not understand English but are too polite enough not to walk away from the interview
7. The footage is intercut with a clip of Peter Falk condescendingly saying, “I’m explaining to you because you look nervous,” implying that the immigrants are clueless
9. Watters asks a Chinese herbalist for something to help his “performance”
10. Watters has his feet massaged by a Chinese masseuse
11. Footage of two young Chinese women is intercut with stereotypical Japanese girls from an Austin Powers movie
Watters’ report highlights the fact that it’s still acceptable in the American media to make ethnic jokes aimed at Asian people. “We are the one group that can get picked on and people think they can get away with it,” Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, said. “This is the same kind of thing that disc jockeys do a lot, and they call Chinese restaurants...and they make fun of them not knowing what’s going on,” Aoki told The Daily Beast. “They could have had a more serious dialogue about how [these voters] feel about Donald Trump…It’s tiresome, it’s insensitive, but it shows that they think they can target Asian immigrants and everyone else will just laugh and no one will be upset…Would [Fox News] do this with black immigrants?”
Watters addressed the controversy with a sorry-not-sorry apology.
My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.— Jesse Watters (@Jesse Watters) 1475702390.0
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the segment:
The racist Jesse Watters segment Fox News aired mocking Asian-Americans is just another of many they have let him r… https://t.co/819yH8xwhm— Media Matters (@Media Matters) 1475768853.0
Fox wonders why Asians are voting Democratic, even as they drive more Asians to vote Democratic. https://t.co/JsMQy1JAyp via @thedailybeast— David Henry Hwang (@David Henry Hwang) 1475751947.0
The vile, racist behavior of Fox’s Jesse Watters in Chinatown has no place in our city. @FoxNews – keep this guy off TV.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@Mayor Bill de Blasio) 1475714667.0
.@chrislhayes makes many good points about that racist Fox News / Jesse Watters Chinatown segment https://t.co/90ousl8Zbv— Leanne Naramore (@Leanne Naramore) 1475770787.0
A bit late to this but my god that Jesse Watters video in Chinatown is just stupefyingly offensive.— Michael Cohen (@Michael Cohen) 1475720886.0
Your hard eyeroll is all of us. HERO. "Fox News fit an impressive # of offensive Asian stereotypes into 5 mins"… https://t.co/orKAMfZhWR— Jenny Yang stands w the WGA (@Jenny Yang stands w the WGA) 1475690398.0