Fox News has come under intense scrutiny, with calls for an apology from the White House, after one of its prominent hosts, Jesse Watters, appeared to endorse violence against Arab Americans. This controversy emerged amidst heightened tensions related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.
On Wednesday evening, during the broadcast of the highly-rated Fox News show “The Five,” Jesse Watters made remarks that raised significant concern. He stated, “If you’re an Arab American in this country, and you rip down posters of Jewish hostages, American hostages, no. No, no, no. Someone is going to get punched in the face.”
In response to Watters’ comments, the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Andrew Bates, issued a statement condemning the remarks as “unacceptable.” Bates further demanded an apology from Fox News to every viewer, characterizing the comments as a “sickening attack on the rights and dignity of their fellow Americans.”
The backdrop of this controversy is the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, which began on October 7, with Hamas launching surprise attacks resulting in over 1,400 casualties and more than 240 hostages. Israel’s retaliatory strikes in Gaza, according to the Gaza health ministry, have resulted in the deaths of over 9,000 people and injuries to nearly 24,000 Palestinians.
In the United States, there have been reports of posters depicting hostages taken by Hamas being removed from public display amidst protests and counter-protests.
During the same broadcast, Jesse Watters made additional statements, saying, “I want to say something about Arab Americans and about the Muslim world. We – and when I say we, I mean the west and western technology – have created the Middle East. We made them rich. We got that oil out of the ground, our military protects all of these oil shipments flying around the world, making them rich. We fund their military. We respect their kings. We kill their terrorists. OK? But we’ve had it. We’ve had it with them!”
In response to these comments, Andrew Bates highlighted the urgency of President Biden’s commitment to ensuring that hate finds no safe harbor in America. President Biden has recently committed to implementing the first national anti-Islamophobia strategy in American history.
Bates also referenced a tragic incident in Plainfield, Illinois, where a six-year-old Palestinian American child, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was fatally stabbed, while his mother survived the attack. The family’s landlord has been charged with murder and a hate crime, with allegations that the accused “listened to conservative talk radio on a regular basis,” “hated Muslims,” and was obsessed with the Israel-Hamas war. During the attack, the assailant reportedly shouted, “you Muslims have to die” and “you are killing our kids in Israel. You Palestinians don’t deserve to live.”
In light of these circumstances, Andrew Bates emphasized the need for Fox News to issue an apology to its viewers and cited President Biden’s unwavering commitment to standing against Islamophobia, antisemitism, and all forms of hate. Fox News, as of the time of this report, had not issued an official response to the controversy.
*Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the most recent developments.*