In a textbook case of not knowing how to quit when you're behind, Fox News found itself embroiled in another controversy about its treatment of women on Wednesday night. This time, the subject was not a female employee of the network. Instead, it has ensnared first daughter Ivanka Trump.
Jesse Watters, a host of the network's new 9 p.m. show “The Five” (working title: “Bill O'Reilly Who?”), was discussing Ivanka Trump's much-derided appearance on a panel on women's empowerment when he decided to pile on — in the Fox house style. Watters rolled a clip of Trump speaking, then said he "really liked how she was speaking into that microphone."
(Context: Trump was in Germany at the W20 Summit; she appeared onstage next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF Director Christine Lagarde, whose speaking styles passed unnoticed.)
Watters' comments struck many on social media as a sexual innuendo.
Congratulations, Jesse Watters, you're a disgusting pig as well as being a racist moron. https://t.co/lZbydxIV7l— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) April 26, 2017
Hey @jessebwatters: When complimenting someone on their voice, say it. Don't not say it, but grin and imitate a blow job. It's misleading.— Gideon Emery (@gideonemery) April 27, 2017
Watters defended himself to Buzzfeed: "During the break we were commenting on Ivanka's voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else," he said.
A world's eyeballs rolled, then headed to Twitter:
@jessebwatters She does have a smooth (monotone voice). Your reference was about her holding the Mic though.— Cheryl Prevor Psy.D (@DrCherylllP) April 27, 2017
@jessebwatters I'm not sure what's worse: the gross implication, the lie that it's about her voice, or her voice itself. Nails on a velvet chalkboard. Yuck— David Unnormalized (@ChopperDave18) April 27, 2017
And an amateur body-language expert noticed:
I just noticed Jesse Watters jerked his hand up and down slightly as he joked that he liked how Ivanka holds a microphone. pic.twitter.com/I332JcgoMx— David Mack (@davidmackau) April 26, 2017
This couldn't have come at a worse time for Fox News, whose former good times are looking increasingly gross: This month the network dismissed Bill O'Reilly, host of the network's flagship “O'Reilly Factor,” after it was revealed the network had paid out $13 million to settle multiple sexual-harassment lawsuits against him. (A public uproar and the flight of 50 advertisers forced the network's hand.) And only nine months ago, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes resigned after being named in a lawsuit by former host Gretchen Carlson, who said she was fired after declining Ailes' sexual overtures.
Watters, who has hosted “The Five” for three days, will be taking a "vacation" (which, at Fox News, is the new "hospitalized for exhaustion") from the show today and Friday. He will also miss Saturday's edition of his show “Watters' World.”
Jesse Watters is taking a "vacation" because of @FoxNews 's zero tolerance policy towards comments about smooth jazz.— Frank Conniff (@FrankConniff) April 27, 2017