By Mark Hallum
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) condemned a Fox News clip about Asian Americans which aired on the O’Reilly Factor Monday as “racist rhetoric” and called for a boycott of the network until it issued a formal apology.
Elected officials are calling the segment an affront to the Asian-American community and a rally took place at the Fox News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan Thursday attended by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing), Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), city Comptroller Scott Stringer and other elected officials from across the city.
Jesse Watters’ segment of the show, “Watters’ World,” took a trip to Chinatown in Manhattan to question the Chinese community about their stance on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump while Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” played in the background.
“Jesse Watter’s offensive segment on Chinatown embodies all that is wrong with Donald Trump and his supporters,” Stavisky said. “Not only did this so-called reporter resort to immature stereotypes, but he also produced an inaccurate impression of the Chinese-American culture. As the state senator of the 16th Senate District – 55 percent of which is Asian American – I will not tolerate racist rhetoric from anyone. There was nothing comedic about Jesse Watter’s video. He, Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News Channel must apologize for disgracing the hardworking Chinese community. Until an appropriate and sincere apology is issued, I call for a boycott of Fox News. Racism must not be rewarded.”
Fox News could not immediately be reached for comment.
The remarks released during the rally in Midtown showed the dismay felt by lawmakers not only originating from an Asian American background, but also those who represent the demographic depicted in the segment.
“I was dismayed at the recent ‘Watters’ World’ segment in Chinatown. The segment crossed the line,” Meng said at the rally in Manhattan. “This public mocking of Chinese individuals was offensive and disrespectful to Asian Americans, and it only promulgated the negative stereotypes that Asian Americans unfortunately continue to endure. Asian Americans add to the rich and diverse fabric of American life and the Asian American community should never be treated as second-class citizens for the amusement of others.”
Koo said the Watters segment only added to the alienation Asian Americans may feel as “perpetual foreigners.”
“Passing off this blatantly racist television segment as ‘gentle fun’ not only validates racist stereotypes, it encourages them,” Koo said. “How is it, that in New York City in 2016, this is still OK? Short answer: it’s not, and it is unfortunate that Fox News needs to be reminded of that.”
Kim also said Fox News owes the Chinese population an apology and should be boycotted if they fail to do so.
“This offensive, racist segment was somehow created and approved to be broadcast into the homes of millions of people,” Kim said. “In passing off its demeaning stereotypes and shameful ignorance as ‘all in good fun’, it only further insults the entire Asian American community.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall