‘O’Reilly Factor’ Producer to Meet With Asian Journalists Following Controversial Chinatown Segment

Lawrence Yee
Variety

The executive producer of “The O’Reilly Factor” will meet with members of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and community leaders following an Oct. 3 “Watters World” segment that many Asian viewers found offensive.

In the segment, Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters stopped passerbys in New York’s Chinatown and asked them questions about the first presidential debate, where China was mentioned numerous times. But in addition to political questions, Watters asked things like, “Am I supposed to bow to say hello?,” “Is it the year of the dragon?,” and “Do you know karate?”

On Oct. 5, AAJA demanded an apology from Fox News, calling the segment “rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging.”

Qanta Shimizu and Harry Leung, two subjects featured in the segment, told the organization that Watters never identified himself, what show he was with, and what the interviews were being used for.

Watters responded on Twitter that the piece was meant to be “tongue-in-cheek” and expressed “regret if anyone found offense,” but stopped short of an apology.


Bill O’Reilly supported Watters, describing him as a “gentle satirist” and the segment as a “gentle piece.” The “O’Reilly Factor” host added that the outcry was a “attack on Fox News” and boasted he was “proud” of Watters.

David Tabacoff, executive producer of “The O’Reilly Factor,” invited AAJA president Paul Cheung to speak on the show last Friday, but Cheung declined the invitation, saying that the conversation should be expanded to include the Asian-Pacific Islander community, and extending an invitation of his own to a town hall last Saturday.

Fox News did not respond to Cheung’s invitation, nor a request for an on-air apology. Fox News did not show at the town hall despite a seat being held for them.

On Tuesday, Tabacoff finally agreed to meet with AAJA. According to Cheung, the private meeting will take place at New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America on a to-be-determined date. It’s also unclear if Watters or O’Reilly will participate in the meeting.

Among the goals of the meeting: to ensure fair and accurate coverage of Asian Americans in news media and preventing this type of coverage in the future.

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