Asian American groups meet with Fox News personnel over awful Jesse Watters segment

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    Asian American groups meet with Fox News personnel over awful Jesse Watters segment

    The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and other advocacy groups met Tuesday with two officials from Fox News to discuss an Oct. 3 segment in which Fox News’s Jesse Watters interviewed people in New York’s Chinatown about U.S. politics and other matters. The segment played up commonly traded Asian stereotypes and subjected non-English-speaking Chinatown passersby to ridicule.

    The backlash was strong, as critics on social media and elsewhere took issue with the particulars of the video as well as the sensibilities that drove it. “The segment was billed as a report on Chinese Americans’ views on the U.S. presidential election but it was rife with racist stereotypes, drew on thoughtless tropes and openly ridiculed Asian Americans,” reads a statement from AAJA. The organization demanded an apology. On Twitter, Watters himself said, “My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.”

    In an interview with colleague Chris Wallace, Bill O’Reilly — Watters’ boss — denied that the segment had gone “over the line.” Complaints about the bit were the work of an “organized campaign,” said O’Reilly.

    Paul Cheung, president of AAJA, told the Erik Wemple Blog that the meeting was “productive.” “I think they heard what the community’s reactions are,” he said of the session at New York’s Museum of Chinese in America. Approximately 130 Asian American “groups and allies” have signed an open letter to Fox News regarding the unfortunate episode, said Cheung.

    Ron Kim, a New York state assemblyman in attendance, told this blog that a representative from “The O’Reilly Factor” and a senior representative from the news side of the channel attended the meeting. Together they played a “good cop, bad cop” routine, said Kim. “The gentleman from O’Reilly’s show was defending what they were doing and trying to explain that this is a part of the opinion section of Fox News and sometimes edgy humor can go too far,” said Kim.

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