If there's anything Fox News doesn't need, it's male hosts cracking sexually suggestive jokes about women in professional settings. In the aftermath of CEO Roger Ailes' departure from the channel last year amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment and predatory behavior ― allegations he firmly denies ― and the subsequent firing of mainstay anchor Bill O'Reilly for his own slew of sexual harassment accusations (which he also denies), the culture within Fox News is under a glaring spotlight. And this doesn't help: Jesse Watters cracked a sexist joke about Ivanka Trump during an episode of The Five this week, one which seemed to many viewers to be alluding to oral sex.
Watters has long been a controversial presence on Fox News. Previously the star of a recurring on-air segment on The O'Reilly Factor titled "Watters' World," he produced any number of objectionable content, including a racist segment about Asian-Americans filmed in New York City's Chinatown. He also once followed and ambush-questioned journalist Amanda Terkel in 2009 after she criticized O'Reilly's comments about a slain rape victim, an incident Terkel described in detail at the time, and again following O'Reilly's departure from the channel.
Watters made the seemingly sexually charged joke after watching a clip of the eldest Trump daughter speaking at a women's panel in Germany. He denied that there was anything salacious behind the quip in a subsequent tweet, but you can view it and judge for yourself.
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 like how she's speaking into that microphone.
Watter's impish grin moments after the "microphone" comment certainly had the look of an immature man who just slipped a gross oral sex joke into a live TV broadcast, sure. And moments after attacking the left for not respecting that same woman, to boot. But he has a very different explanation: He was just talking about the "smooth jazz radio DJ" sound of her voice.
That wasn't the only moment in that episode that drew attention for an apparent sexual reference. Although the other one wasn't about the speaker so much as the people reacting ― as Yashar Ali (the same journalist who first flagged the Watters comment) noted, both Watters and Bob Beckel erupted into laughter after Kimberly Guilfoyle mentioned a "guy that actually knows how to use his hands."
Despite having mainly boosted his profile through O'Reilly's show for years, Watters appears to be on the rise following his dismissal. His ascension on The Five marks his first regular co-hosting gig. And yet, with people outside of Fox News applying heavy scrutiny to its apparent boys-club attitude towards sexism, and former employees increasingly speaking out about the culture of sexism they experienced, these kinds of moments are probably doing Fox News no favors.