Fox News Stands by Jesse Watters After 'Kill Shot' Remark While Fauci Wants Him Fired

Anthony Fauci Fox News Host Jesse Watters
Dr. Anthony Fauci has called for Fox News host Jesse Watters to be "fired on the spot" after he made a rhetorical "kill shot" comment during a conservative conference on Monday. Fauci is pictured during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2021. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Fox News has backed host Jesse Watters after Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he should be fired for urging conservatives to "ambush" him and "go in for the kill shot."

Watters on Monday urged attendees of the conservative group Turning Point USA's AmericaFest event to ambush Fauci with questions about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) allegedly funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan, China, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci, the longtime director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, called for Watters to be "fired on the spot" after he was asked about the event during a CNN interview on Monday. In response, Fox News insisted that Watters' 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 obtained by Newsweek.

While speaking at the conference, Watters clearly used violence as a metaphor aimed at asking Fauci questions, rather than encouraging the crowd to use physical violence against Fauci. The Fox host told his audience to emulate the tactics of conservative "citizen journalist" and Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe.

"I'm sick and tired of conservatives always playing defense, it's time for us to go on offense," Watters said during the event. "I'm going to deputize all you guys to be little James O'Keefes ... Let's just say Fauci comes to town ... You've got to ambush a guy like Fauci."

Watters urged the guests to ask Fauci "why did you lie" and wave "a little document" purporting to be "the grant that funded" gain-of-function research in Fauci's face until he is forced to speak.

"This guy's scrambling at this point. You have the goods," Watters said. "Now you go in for the kill shot. The kill shot, with an ambush, deadly. Because he doesn't see it coming. This is when you say, 'Dr. Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab'... Boom, he is dead! He is dead! He's done!"

Fauci was asked about Watters' remarks during an interview with CNN host John Berman, who said that he would not play footage from the event out of concern that it was "dangerous." Instead, the host informed Fauci that "Fox News entertainer" Watters had told the crowd to "ambush you with what he said was some kind of rhetorical kill shot."

"That's horrible," Fauci responded. "This is just such a reflection of the craziness that goes on in society. The only thing that I had 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 given me a kill shot, to ambush me?" he continued. "That's awful that he said that. And he's going to go, very likely, unaccountable ... That's crazy, the guy should be fired on the spot."