US & Canada

Fox host Watters takes sudden leave after Ivanka remark backlash

Watters said the audience that booed Trump treated the event 'like soccer match' Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Watters said the audience that booed Trump treated the event 'like soccer match'

Fox News presenter Jesse Watters has announced he is taking a holiday, after appearing to make a sexually suggestive remark about Ivanka Trump.

He said, with a grin, that he "really liked how she was speaking into the microphone" in her Berlin appearance.

The next day he denied it was sexual, saying he was instead complimenting her voice which is "like a jazz radio DJ".

He is regarded as a protege of presenter Bill O'Reilly, recently fired by Fox over sexual harassment claims.

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Media captionIvanka Trump explains her praise for her father

A few hours after Mr Watters' denial, he made the surprise announcement on-air that he was taking a previously unannounced holiday.

Following a baseball clip, he told the Fox panellists: "Also, I'm going to be taking a vacation with my family, so I'm not going to be here tomorrow."

The show moved on to a segment about a sloth born at the Memphis zoo.

"I'll be back on Monday, so don't miss me too much," he added.

His Saturday show, Watters' World, will be covered by a colleague.

He made his controversial Ivanka remarks on the show The Five, which was moved to a primetime time slot after Fox announced Mr O'Reilly's departure last week.

"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," he said about audience members at the female entrepreneurship discussion in Berlin.

"So I don't really get what's going on here, but I really liked how she was speaking into that microphone," he said, looking directly into the camera.

Mr Watters has drawn controversy for segments about New York City's homeless population and the city's Chinatown district.

Last month he interviewed President Donald Trump while aboard Air Force One, becoming one of only 45 people that the president follows on Twitter.

The sudden announcement comes as the network scrambles to recover from multiple allegations of sexual harassment that have led to the resignations of Mr O'Reilly and Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes.

Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter
Image copyright Twitter

On Tuesday, long-time Fox reporter Kelly Wright joined a lawsuit with 12 other current and former employees alleging that executives knew about sexual and racial discrimination, but did nothing to stop it.

Mr Wright, who has worked at Fox since 2003 accused the network of "plantation-style management," saying that co-president Bill Shine obsessively focused on Mr Wright's race, which is African-American.

He also said that Mr O'Reilly refused to show a series on his programme about the racial divide in Ferguson, Missouri, because it showed "blacks in too positive a light".

Fox News has said it "vehemently denies the race discrimination" allegations.

US media-watchers and on-air news personalities have taken to Twitter to react to Mr Watters comment.

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