Less than a week after Bill O’Reilly was ousted from Fox News amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, his former protégé is facing a backlash over an on-air remark about Ivanka Trump.
During a discussion on Fox’s “The Five” about Trump’s participation in a women’s empowerment panel Tuesday, Jesse Watters criticized the crowd for booing and hissing the first daughter when she described her father as a “champion” for women and families.
“Yeah, it’s funny, the left says they’ll really respect women and then when given an opportunity to respect a woman like that they boo and hiss,” Watters said. “So I don’t really get what’s going on here, but, uh, I really like the way she was speaking into that microphone.”
Online, many viewed the comment as crude.
WATCH: Jesse Watters on Fox News re Ivanka Trump: "I really like how she was speaking into that microphone" pic.twitter.com/HoJHLpMtq1
— Yashar (@yashar) April 26, 2017
A microphone is just a microphone, unless you're a bro from 20th Century Fox. (Is he Beavis or Butthead?) https://t.co/Tvg36EaL6X
— Jonathan Weisman (@jonathanweisman) April 26, 2017
When a company sends the clear signal that women are basically sub-human, vile behavior thrives even after top offenders are fired.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 26, 2017
But Watters insisted he was referring to her voice.
“During the break we were commenting on Ivanka’s voice and how it was low and steady and resonated like a smooth jazz radio DJ,” he tweeted. “This was in no way a joke about anything else.”
Fox is reeling not only from O’Reilly’s firing but also from the departure last year of Roger Ailes, the longtime network chief, who, like O’Reilly, was expelled amid a mounting sexual harassment scandal.
Watters has risen to prominence at Fox News through his “Watters World” segments, which were regularly featured on “The O’Reilly Factor” and spun off as a weekly show earlier this year. Last month, Watters interviewed President Trump aboard Air Force One. Following O’Reilly’s departure, Watters was named a co-host of “The Five.”
On air I was referring to Ivanka's voice and how it resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.
— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) April 26, 2017
It’s not the first time Watters has stirred controversy with what he considers comedy.
In October, Watters traveled to New York City’s Chinatown to see how the neighborhood’s Chinese-American residents felt about Trump and U.S.-China relations. He used the material for an “O’Reilly Factor” appearance that many viewers found offensive and racist.
The man-on-the-street-style segment showed Watters asking neighborhood locals several questions about Trump’s comments and a few about Chinese stereotypes. (Among the questions: “Do you know karate?”) The video included unnecessary subtitles for a man who spoke English that could easily be understood. Watters also played with nunchucks and received a foot massage.
At the time, Watters defended the segment as a light piece of political humor.
“As a political humorist, the Chinatown segment was intended to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are,” he wrote on Twitter. “My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense.”
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• Tucker Carlson and Caitlyn Jenner debate Trump and transgender rights
• Ivanka booed at W20 summit after calling father a ‘champion’ for women
• Obama makes first public remarks since leaving office
• Trump approaches 100 days with lowest job approval rating in more than 70 years