White House demands Fox News apology over ‘sickening attack’ on Arab Americans

A spokesperson for the White House said the broadcaster ‘owes an apology to every single viewer’

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Friday 03 November 2023 20:14 GMT
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Fox News host Jesse Watters mocks refugees' clothes

The White House has condemned a “sickening attack” on Arab Americans by a Fox News presenter, amid the ongoing violence in the Middle East.

In response to “unacceptable” comments made by Jesse Watters, a spokesperson for the White House said the broadcaster “owes an apology to every single viewer”.

Speaking on the highly-rated Fox News show The Five on Wednesday, Mr Watters commented on various reports of people removing posters of Jewish hostages taken by Hamas from public display.

“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,” he said.

In the same segment, Mr Watters said: “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.

A spokesperson for the White House said the broadcaster ‘owes an apology to every single viewer’ following remarks made by Jesse Watters

“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. Okay? But we’ve had it. We’ve had it with them.”

Israel says more than 1,400 people were killed and more than 5,400 injured during the surprise attacks by Hamas on 7 October. According to the Gaza health ministry, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 9,000 and injured almost 25,000 Palestinians.

In a statement shared with The Guardian, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said: “These hateful lies about ‘Arab Americans and … the Muslim world’ highlight the urgency of President Biden’s work to ensure hate has no safe harbor in America, and why he committed to the first national anti-Islamophobia strategy in our history.”

Mr Bates also noted the “spike” in threats against Muslim and Arab Americans since the beginning of the conflict, highlighting the case of six-year-old Wadea Al Fayoume, who was stabbed to death in Chicago on 14 October.

He added: “Fox News owes an apology to every single viewer for this sickening attack on the rights and dignity of their fellow Americans.

“President Biden will always stand up against Islamophobia, antisemitism and all forms of hate. Fox News should learn from his example.”

Mr Watters did not appear on topical news show The Five on Friday, with fellow host Dana Perino saying she believed he was taking some time off at “an event in California”.

The Independent understands that he was giving a keynote speech at a meeting of California’s agricultural industry leaders in the city of Tulare.

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