Fox Chinatown piece stirs outcry

Updated: 2016-10-07 10:49

By Hong Xiao in New York(China Daily USA)

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Fox Chinatown piece stirs outcry

Congresswoman Grace Meng joins elected officials and community leaders in front of Fox News headquarters to protest a segment on the O'Reilly Factor program that they feel mocked residents of Chinatown. Meng said that the Asian-American community should never be treated as second-class citizens for the amusement of others. Hong Xiao / China Daily

A Fox News segment that makes fun of Asian stereotypes is causing outrage, and it's spread from the internet to the streets.

On Monday night, Fox News reporter Jesse Watters aired flip man-on-the-street interviews with people in New York City's Chinatown about the 2016 election and US-China relations for a segment called Watters' World! on The O'Reilly Factor program.

In the five-minute segment, Watters teased elderly Asians who don't understand English, made fun of residents' accents, greeted people with a bow and, in some eyes, reinforced some of the most pejorative stereotypes of Asians.

The segment caused an outburst online, netizens calling the piece offensive and racist on social media.

On Thursday afternoon, officials and community leaders including New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Public Advocate Letitita James and members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Sian Caucus gathered in front of Fox News headquarters in New York to protest the Watters' World piece.

"The segment crossed the line," said Meng.

"This public mocking of Chinese individuals was offensive and disrespectful to Asian Americans, and it only promulgated the negative stereotypes that Asian Americans unfortunately continue to endure."

"This offensive, racist segment was somehow created and approved to be broadcast into the homes of millions of people," said Kim. "In passing off its demeaning stereotypes and shameful ignorance as 'all in good fun', it only further insults the entire Asian-American community."

"New York is home to some of the most diverse communities in the world, and we know that our differences make us stronger, not weaker," said Stringer. "This segment is despicable. There's no place in our city for bigotry, and every New Yorker deserves an apology from those responsible."

"Asian Americans add to the rich and diverse fabric of American life, and the Asian-American community should never be treated as second-class citizens for the amusement of others," said Meng.

The group called on Fox News to issue an apology and retract the segment, as well as hold the individuals involved in producing it responsible.

Watters twittered two posts on Wednesday, saying, "The Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece" and the interviews were meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and he "regrets it" if anyone took offense.

"We demand a real apology, not just 'regrets'," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin.

"Jesse Waters has used his nationwide megaphone enough times to stereotype women, African Americans and now Chinese Americans. This hateful form of 'entertainment' has no business being on a news program," she added.

The group submitted an official letter to the CEO of Fox News LLC, Rupert Murdoch, demanding an immediate public apology and retraction of the segment from their online sites.

"Enough is enough," the letter reads. "Our communities will no longer tolerate Bill O'Reilly or anyone at Fox News who hides their racism with spineless excuses like 'it was all in good fun'.

"Chinatowns are a storied part of American history, not a prop for Mr. O' Reilly and Mr. Watters to show their xenophobia and prejudice against an entire race."