Fox News anchor Jesse Watters apologises for any 'offence' caused by 'racist' Chinatown segment

Watters' street interview asked residents in New York questions such as: 'Am I supposed to bow to say hello’?

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The Independent Online

It isn’t often that Fox News will apologise for causing offence, a common occurrence on a network that has shown anchors claiming Santa “is definitely white” and suggesting legalising gay marriage could lead to unions between animals and humans

But presenter Jesse Watters has issued an apology, of sorts, after the correspondent famed for his street interviews ambushed people in New York City’s Chinatown with questions about the US election which were peppered with offensive Asian stereotypes. 

For his ‘Watters’ World’ segment on the Bill O’Reily Show, he asked questions such as: “Am I supposed to bow to say ‘hello’?”; “Do you know karate?”; “Do they call Chinese food in China just ‘food’?” and "Do you have any traditional Chinese herbs for performance?” 

Some of those interviewed for the five-minute segment were elderly, did not appear to speak English and were ridiculed for not responding to his questions. Conversations were also interspersed with clips from films depicting Asian stereotypes. 

The interviews were accused of racism, with Farhad Manjoo, a tech reporter for the New York Times, describing it as “one of the most blatantly racist things I have ever seen”. 

Democratic congressman Ted Lieu told Fox “using stereotypes was at best, racist and at worst, really racist”. New York State Senator Daniel Squadron joined a chorus of voices condemning the piece, telling Watters: “Segment in Chinatown is offensive and unacceptable. Welcome to my district - hope you don't come back.” 

Responding to the backlash, Watters said his segment should be taken with humour and apologised if anyone felt offended by it.

He wrote on Twitter: “As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are.

“My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offence.”

Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.