Fox News backed its host Jesse Watters despite Anthony Fauci calling for his sacking after he asked a crowd of young conservatives to “ambush” the top diseases exert and urged them to go for a rhetorical “kill shot”.
Fauci says Fox News host Jesse Watters should be fired for ‘ambush’ and ‘kill shot’ comments:
Watters, who serves as a panellist on the 5 p.m. show “The Five” and has his own Fox News show on Saturday nights, rose to acclaim as a door-stepping correspondent who was filmed ambushing unsuspecting targets for a segment called “Watters’ World” that aired on then-Fox host Bill O’Reilly’s show.
HuffPost Washington bureau chief Amanda Terkel claimed that Watters “ambushed and harassed” her while she was on vacation in 2009. “He never introduced himself and didn’t give any context for what he was saying, he simply shouted questions as I tried to switch out of vacation mode and remember the short post I had written weeks earlier,” Terkel wrote in 2016.
In another clip, Watters confronted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who said he doesn’t “do ambush interviews” — to which Watters responded: “I do ambush interviews.”
Dr Anthony Fauci called out the “crazy” threats made against him by Fox News Channel’s Jesse Watters, saying Tuesday that Watters “should be fired on the spot.”
Anthony S. Fauci has become accustomed to receiving a barrage of criticism and invective from conservative media personalities. But even he seemed surprised by the comments made about him by Fox News host Jesse Watters on Monday.
Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease doctor, responded to comments Watters made over the weekend to the conservative, pro-Trump youth group Turning Point USA.
Watters, a conservative provocateur, told the group to “ambush” Fauci in the streets and to record a lofty “kill shot.”
The Fox host was referring to confrontational interviews in comments at a conservative conference but leaned hard on violent imagery: ‘Boom! He is dead!’
The audience responded with laughter and applause. But on Tuesday morning, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, didn’t find it so funny.
“That’s horrible. I mean, that is such a reflection of the craziness that goes on in society,”
said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years is to encourage people to practice good public health practices, to get vaccinated, to be careful in public settings, to wear a mask, and for that you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot, to ambush me?”
In his remarks to the far-right youth group, Watters appeared to link Fauci to wild conspiracy theories that connect him to allegations of biowarfare.
By “ambush” and “kill shot,” Watters was proposing a surprise, on-the-street interview with an unwitting and unwilling subject.
A practice pioneered by investigative journalism shows like “60 Minutes” but now frequently used by political partisans to embarrass public officials with a damaging bit of video clip.
“Now you’re going for the kill shot. The kill shot with an ambush is deadly because he doesn’t see it coming,” Watters told the crowd.
“This is when you say: ‘Dr. Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab. The same lab that sprung this pandemic on the world. You know why people don’t trust you, don’t you?’ Boom, he is dead! He is dead! He’s done!”
Fauci said: “I mean, what kind of craziness is there in society these days? That’s awful that he said that. And he’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable. I mean, whatever network he’s on is not going to do anything. … I mean, that’s crazy. The guy should be fired on the spot.”
JUST NOW: "I mean, that's crazy. The guy should be fired on the spot. "
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Fox character Jesse Watters calling on people to "ambush" Fauci…with a "killshot." pic.twitter.com/VdP1lsnsA5
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) December 21, 2021
Fauci added that “the guy should be fired on the spot” but said he doubted that would happen: “He’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable.”
A Fox News Channel representative made good on Fauci’s prediction, defending Watters’ incendiary language.
Fauci has become a regular target of criticism for conservatives, particularly the prime-time opinion hosts at Fox News, who have accused him of mishandling the public health bureaucracy’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Fauci criticized Fox News after Lara Logan, who hosts a streaming show for the Fox Nation service, compared him to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele during a guest appearance on a prime-time Fox News show.
“It’s unconscionable what she said,” Fauci said of Logan during an appearance on MSNBC. “What I find striking is how she gets no discipline whatsoever from the Fox network. How they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action? I’m astounded by that.”
In a statement cited in several reports, Fox News said Mr Watters’s comments had been taken out of context.
“Based on watching the full clip and reading the entire transcript, it’s more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions to Dr Fauci about gain-of-function research and his words have been twisted completely out of context,” Fox News said in a statement Tuesday.
Fauci was swamped by angry calls over beagle experiments after a campaign that included the misleading image.
Fauci has become a reviled figure among far-right activists who view him as a symbol of federal efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 810,000 people in the U.S.