Word from Fox News is that these tweets from Fox News’s Jesse Watters will represent the official response from the network regarding his recent, offensive man-on-the-street segment in Chinatown. The one that impressed host Bill O’Reilly by showing that, hey, Chinese Americans pay attention to news! “When you go down to Chinatown, seemed like everybody is aware of what’s going on,” said O’Reilly after watching Watters’s performance. The segment traded in a number of Asian stereotypes, which is only the beginning of the problem: When it wasn’t doing that, it was just-plain humiliating people on the street in Chinatown, for no purpose other than to amuse Watters, O’Reilly and probably a good chunk of the millions who make “The O’Reilly Factor” the perennial cable news ratings winner.
The tweets follow requests for an apology. To judge from the words in Watters’s tweets, that apology hasn’t arrived. We’ve seen this conditional expression of regret from besieged journalists, celebrities and politicians for as long as regret has existed. Twitter user @NickAmadeus offered some sound advice to the TV personality:
Consider that “Watters World” is a subsidiary of “The O’Reilly Factor,” a program that has been not apologizing for instances of racial insensitivity for years and years. No way will it change its policy after throwing around a few Asian stereotypes in purported service of lighthearted broadcasting. Another thing: That Watters & Co. would attempt to excuse their work by playing the “light piece” card belies a great deal of ignorance about one of the most durable purveyors of racism: Jokes, that is.
Though O’Reilly doubtless approves of the segment, he couldn’t possibly approve of the grammar in this tweet:
The beneficiary of a strict Catholic grammar-school education, O’Reilly can surely spot the misplaced modifier here: Watters is essentially saying that the “Chinatown segment” is a “political humorist.” An improvement might read, “As a political humorist, I intended the Chinatown to be a light piece, as all Watters World segments are.”
Minus the grammatical infirmity, it’s still a weak-kneed embarrassment of a sentence.