Fox News’ Jesse Watters announced a two-day vacation from the network on Wednesday night, just a day after coming under fire for a controversial remark The Five co-host made about Ivanka Trump.
Watters, a native of Germantown and East Falls, told viewers of The Five that he would be back on the show on Monday, CNNMoney reports. He joined The Five for the show’s new 9 p.m. time slot this week.
Watters’ announcement comes following a comment critics interpreted as a dirty joke about Trump that the host made Tuesday night. The Five was in the midst of a segment about how the president's daughter was audibly booed at a women’s economic conference in Germany.
WATCH: Jesse Watters on Fox News re Ivanka Trump: "I really like how she was speaking into that microphone" pic.twitter.com/HoJHLpMtq1
— Yashar (@yashar) April 26, 2017
“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,” Watters said. “So, I don’t really get what’s going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone.”
Some, including MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and Commentary editor John Podhoretz, viewed the comment as innuendo:
Unsubtle reference from reporter who's interviewed potus about his daughter https://t.co/Q0wSF1Y0pv
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) April 26, 2017
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
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) April 26, 2017
This Jesse Watters fellow seems like a charmer
— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) April 26, 2017
Watters denied critics’ accusations that his comment about Trump was sexual in nature, saying in a statement that he and his fellow co-hosts were “commenting on Ivanka's voice and how it was low and steady and resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ.” He also made a similar statement on Twitter:
On air I was referring to Ivanka's voice and how it resonates like a smooth jazz radio DJ. This was in no way a joke about anything else.
— Jesse Watters (@jessebwatters) April 26, 2017
The controversy comes at a difficult time for Fox News, which itself has come under fire following multiple claims of sexual harassment at the network. Fox terminated its relationship with Bill O’Reilly earlier this month following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations. In that instance, it was revealed that O’Reilly and the network spent about $13 million on settlements with five women who accused the former O’Reilly Factor host of sexual misconduct.
O’Reilly’s ouster came a year after several women accused former chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment, prompting his resignation from parent company Fox Television Stations Group in July. Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky and former anchor Alisyn Camerota additionally accused Ailes of past harassment this month.
Watters joined Fox News in 2002 as a production assistant. In 2003, he made his on-camera debut as an O’Reilly Factor correspondent, where he became known for his man-on-the-street interviews on the "Watters' World" show segment.
This controversy is the latest for Watters, who last year was accused of racism after producing a segment filmed in New York City’s Chinatown in which he asked Asian people if they knew karate, as well as if they knew if it was “the year of the dragon.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said following the segment that Watters’ “vile, racist behavior … has no place in our city.” Watters later apologized.
“I try to make it enjoyable for the person I’m interviewing,” Watters told television critic Ellen Gray in Dec. 2015. “We always come away from the interview all smiles, for the most part.”