Embattled Fox News Channel host Jesse Watters, who triggered a torrent of backlash with a comment about the president’s daughter, is going on what he’s calling a “vacation” from his job as co-host of FNC’s “The Five.”
As we reported Wednesday, many critics were reading sexual innuendo into a quip by Watters about how Ivanka Trump held the microphone during a panel discussion in Germany. Watters has denied his comments had any sexual overtones.
Newsday reports that Watters announced on Wednesday night’s installment of “The Five” that he’s taking a leave from the show. Watters, who called it a “vacation,” said he will be back Monday.
Among the heavyweights who sounded off about Watters’ Ivanka Trump comment, John Podhoretz, an influential conservative columnist for the Weekly Standard and The New York Post, tweeted: “Congratulations, Jesse Watters, you’re a disgusting pig as well as being a racist moron.” The latter reference appears to be to a previous Watters controversy involving a report from New York’s Chinatown, which you can watch here.
Another conservative columnist, the Atlantic’s David Frum, tweeted: “The thing that makes Jesse Watters a true Fox star is the flair with which he joins right-wing self-pity to his demeaning smuttiness.”
Compounding the issue for Fox News, the Watters “vacation” comes just as the cable channel is reconfiguring its prime-time lineup in the wake of the firing of Bill O’Reilly, and means Watters will be out of action for part of the first week of his show’s move to the crucial 9 p.m. hour.
A more traditional Fox News foil, CNN’s Jake Tapper, tweeted Wednesday: “when a company sends the clear signal: that women are basically subhuman, vile behavior thrives even after top offenders are fired.”
Later Wednesday, Watters sent out a statement in which he said: “During the [commercial] 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.”
Here’s a clip of the incident Tuesday that got Watters into trouble …