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Fox host under fire for remark about Ivanka Trump

The Hill logo The Hill 27/04/2017 Jonathan Easley
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Fox News host Jesse Watters is under fire for making what critics say was a sexually charged remark about Ivanka Trump, further fueling Fox's critics who have accused the network of fostering a sexist work environment.

On Tuesday night's episode of "The Five" - the 9 p.m. show that followed "The O'Reilly Factor," which was canceled after longtime star Bill O'Reilly was dismissed over mounting allegations of sexual harassment - the network played a clip of Trump holding a microphone close to her mouth as she talked about women's rights at a panel in Germany.

"It's funny. The left says they really respect women and then when given an opportunity to respect a woman like that they boo and hiss ... so I don't really get what's going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone," Watters said.

Watters gestured with his hand toward his mouth as he made the remark and then grinned at his co-hosts.

Top figures in conservative media went on Twitter to express their disgust with Watters. John Podhoretz, an editor at The Weekly Standard, called Watters a "disgusting creep."

In a statement, Watters said his remarks were taken out of context and were not meant to be sexual in any way.

"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," he said. "This was in no way a joke about anything else."

The controversy could not come at a worse time for Fox News, which is seeking to rehabilitate its image after cutting ties with O'Reilly and former Chairman Roger Ailes over allegations they sexually harassed multiple women there.

Fox News dismissed O'Reilly last week amid revelations that he and the network had paid out millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment claims against him.

"The O'Reilly Factor" aired for the final time last Friday, completing a stunning downfall for an anchor who was one of the network's biggest stars for years.

Political watchers were quick to tie Watters's controversy to what they say is a culture of sexism or misogyny at Fox.

This is not the first time Watters has been engulfed in controversy.

Watters once had a regular segment on "The Factor" in which he did cheeky man-on-the-street interviews.

A segment from last October in which he visited Chinatown in New York City was widely condemned as racist for perpetuating Asian-American stereotypes.

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