Fox News under fire for ‘racist’ Chinatown segment about Asian-Americans: ‘Do you know karate?’

Jesse Watters' street-interview segment featured questions about  karate, Chinese food, and traditional herbs

Feliks Garcia
New York
Wednesday 05 October 2016 19:48
<em>Fox News/YouTube</em>
Fox News/YouTube

Fox News aired a controversial segment on The O’Reilly Factor that managed to include an overwhelming number of Asian stereotypes within a short, five-minute time span.

Jesse Watters – an American correspondent known for his street interviews – focused on interviewing people in New York City’s Chinatown about their preferred presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

In the segment, Watters asks a number of election-based questions, asking for opinions of Mr Trump’s position on China. But he also toggled to more generic, stereotypical subject matter about the lives of the Asian people he interviewed.

Among the questions included: “Am I supposed to bow to say ‘hello’?”; “Do you know karate?”; “Do they call Chinese food in China just ‘food’?”; Do you have any traditional Chinese herbs for performance?”

The segment was edited to include clips from movies that featured stereotypical Asian caricatures as a comedic response to the answers. One clip featured Japanese-American actor Pat Morita as Mr Miyagi in the 1984 film The Karate Kid.

Some people interviewed did not appear to speak English and did not respond to Watters’ questions. They were promptly ridiculed.

The segment has been widely criticised as racist.

“This is one of the most blatantly racist things I have ever seen,” Farhad Manjoo, a tech reporter for the New York Times, tweeted. “How can anyone at @FoxNews defend this? It’s nuts.”

ESPN’s Pablo S Torre said: “The worst part about this bluntly racist Fox News segment is all the people who have no idea it’s bluntly racist.”

In the talkback following the segment, Bill O’Reilly, anticipating a backlash to the segment said he knew the programme was “going to get letters”.

But Watters assured him – and likely the viewers – that the segment was “all in good fun”.