AAJA demands Fox News apologize for offensive Chinatown segment; network agrees to meeting

Henry Leung, right, is interviewed by FOX News correspondent Jesse Watters, whose recent piece on Chinatown is being widely criticized by Asian American groups and journalists. Leung says Watters never introduced himself as a FOX News correspondent.

Henry Leung, right, is interviewed by FOX News correspondent Jesse Watters, whose recent piece on Chinatown is being widely criticized by Asian American groups and journalists. Leung says Watters never introduced himself as a FOX News correspondent.

UPDATE: Fox News Executives met with AAJA  (Oct. 25, 6 p.m. ET)
A Fox News executive and an “O’Reilly Factor” executive producer met with AAJA and several community leaders to discuss our concerns over the Oct. 3 segment of “Watters’ World.”

This private meeting took place on Oct. 25 at New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America. Representatives from the community include the Asian American Journalists Association, a member of  the New York State Assembly, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, OCA, OCA-NY and Reappropriate.

An open community letter signed by 134 national, state and local AAPI organizations and allies was presented to Fox News executives.

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UPDATE: Fox News agrees to meet with AAJA (Oct. 11, 6 p.m. ET)
Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” executive producer has agreed to meet with AAJA and several community leaders to discuss concerns over the Oct. 3 segment of “Watters’ World.” This private meeting will take place at New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America. The date is to be determined. The public can share their thoughts about what outcomes they would like to see from this meeting by posting to the public Facebook group “This is 2016.”

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UPDATE: AAJA RESPONDS TO BILL O’REILLY’S COMMENTS ON FOX NEWS SEGMENT (Oct. 10, 6 p.m. ET):

We, at the Asian American Journalists Association, do not accept being busy with the election coverage as an adequate excuse to allow a racist segment to air. Not having time to edit what was “over the line” is a reflection of a lack of sensitivity toward diverse coverage.

“There were a few things in there I felt were over the line. The old lady, I would have taken that out. I should have seen it before, but I’m so busy with the election that I didn’t.” said Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Sunday.

This is 2016 and our community deserves far better treatment and coverage than we’ve been given by this Jesse Watters segment.

AAJA is a non-partisan organization whose main mission is to ensure fair and accurate coverage of Asian Americans in news media.

As we have said before, AAJA demands an on-air apology from Fox News to our community and a meeting with the show’s producers to prevent this insensitive type of coverage in the future.

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UPDATE: INVITATION FROM AAJA TO FOX NEWS (Oct. 8, 2 p.m. ET)

Fox News has ignored several requests extended by AAJA to attend Sunday’s community town hall in New York City’s Chinatown, the location of the “Watters’ World” report on Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor.”

Fox News  also has not responded to multiple requests to provide an apology to the community for the offensive characterizations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the story. The “O’Reilly Factor” executive producer has agreed to a follow-up call on Monday with AAJA.

The town hall is designed to generate a constructive dialogue between news media and the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. It will take place Sunday, October 9th from  2pm to 4pm ET at the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown. Registration details

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UPDATED RESPONSE TO FOX NEWS’ INVITATION TO AAJA (Oct. 6, 2 p.m. ET)

AAJA reached out to executive producer of “The O’Reilly Factor” at Fox News Channel, Wednesday. They subsequently invited AAJA President Paul Cheung to appear on Friday’s show to discuss the journalism organization’s concerns.

We appreciate the invitation to educate Bill O’Reilly and his audience on the offensive nature of the “Watters’ World” segment. However, we believe meaningful engagement can occur only if there is significant dialogue not just with us, but with the broader community.

Therefore, we respectfully decline the invitation and instead propose a solution we believe can facilitate such a dialogue. AAJA would like to invite Fox News staff members to participate in a conversation with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at a town hall to be held in New York’s Chinatown. We encourage Jesse Watters, his producers and other Fox News staff members to attend.

The town hall will take place Sunday between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown; additional details will follow.

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RESPONSE TO JESSE WATTERS’ TWEETS (Oct. 5, 10:30 p.m. ET)

“O’Reilly Factor” correspondent Jesse Watters issued two tweets in which he described his intentions in an Oct. 3 “Watters’ World” segment based in Chinatown.

It’s one thing to be “tongue-in-cheek.” It is something entirely different to hide behind the guise of political humor while using racial stereotypes.

The AAJA MediaWatch team reviewed two other “Watters’ World” segments — one on millennials and the other on role of  race in Philadelphia.  Although both segments might indeed be “tongue-in-cheek,” neither was as blatantly racist as the Chinatown segment.

Watters interviewed people for whom English is obviously not their primary language, raising ethical concerns of whether they were aware of how they would be portrayed.

We are interested in ensuring that Fox News and “The O’Reilly Factor” do not repeat this type of objectionable segment.

What type of diversity and sensitivity training is being undertaken in the newsroom to broaden the understanding of the diverse audience of 2016?

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AAJA STATEMENT (Oct. 5, 2:30 p.m. ET)

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is outraged and shocked by the Oct. 3rd segment of “Watters’ World” on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor.” 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.

Jesse Watters, O’Reilly Factor Correspondent and Host of Watters World, committed a litany of offenses, from asking Asian American women, “Do I bow to say hello?” to asking an Asian American man if he knew karate. He mixed in stereotypes of various Asian groups, conflating Koreans with Chinese and Japanese communities. The segment used clips of martial arts movies and interviewed Asian Americans whose primary language isn’t English in order to mock them.

It’s 2016. We should be far beyond tired, racist stereotypes and targeting an ethnic group for humiliation and objectification on the basis of their race. Sadly, Fox News proves it has a long way to go in reporting on communities of color in a respectful and fair manner.

Host Bill O’Reilly called the segment “gentle fun.” There was nothing gentle or fun about it. It was rude, offensive, mocking, derogatory and damaging.

Fox missed a real opportunity to investigate the Asian American vote, a topic not often covered in mainstream news.

With a population of 15 million, Asian Americans remain the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. Between 2000-2010, our community grew by 45 percent, compared to 10 percent for the overall U.S. population.

While the largest Asian American communities continue to be in states like New York, California, and Hawaii, the fastest growing populations of Asian Americans include potential swing states like Nevada, Arizona, and North Carolina.

There has been tremendous growth of Asian American representation throughout government. There are now over 600 elected officials at all levels, according to the National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac.

We deserve far better treatment and coverage than we’ve been given by this Fox News report.

AAJA MediaWatch demands an apology from Fox News to our community and a meeting with the show’s producers to understand how this segment was conceived and greenlit to air. More importantly,  we want an explanation for how this type of coverage will be prevented in the future.

Sincerely
AAJA MediaWatch committee &
Paul Cheung, AAJA President

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