The most uncomfortable Fox News interviews ever

Every news network has its fair share of awkward segments, but Fox News seems to have the market cornered on uncomfortable interviews. Over the years, countless Fox talks have become confrontational. While the network and many of the current and former shows hosts pride themselves on presenting alternative angles on every story, guests with views and opinions that differ from the show's stars' often find themselves berated and ridiculed. Big names such as Tucker Carlson (pictured), Bill O'Reilly, and Sean Hannity built reputations for controversial takes and being tough on guests, but not everyone took the beating. In fact, some guests took the network stars to task.

But it's not only confrontation that makes an interview uncomfortable. We've seen segments that portray prejudiced, uneducated, and just downright confusing viewpoints from Fox News interviewers. Let's take a closer look at some the most awkward talks you can imagine. Some are so bad they never even made it to television. From interviews with people confused by basic gestures to those seemingly baffled by simple science, here are the most uncomfortable Fox News interviews ever.

Terrorist fist jab

News anchors often seem out of touch with youth culture, but it's maybe never been more apparent than when the host of America's Pulse, E.D. Donahey (formerly Hill) tried to unpack the meaning behind Barack Obama's fist bump with his wife, Michelle Obama. Donahey opens the segment with the line, "a fist bump, a pound, a terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently." As if the insinuation that Obama's respectful dap was related to terrorism wasn't bad enough, Donahey later calls the extremely common gesture a "fist thump." 

To help her crack this mysterious code, Donahey invites a body language expert to break it down for her. "Is that sort of a signal that young people get?" she asks her guest. Remember, folks, this is the host of a Fox News show called America's Pulse. The whole thing is just excruciating to watch. According to The Guardian, Donahey lost her show a week after this incident.

Going down to Chinatown

In a "Watters' World" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, news correspondent Jesse Watters interviews residents of New York's Chinatown to "sample political opinion." In what's meant to be funny, the segment quickly becomes mean-spirited and bigoted. Watters touches on nearly every Chinese stereotype imaginable, asking a street vendor if his watches are "hot," taking a Karate class, and getting a foot massage. Some of the most offensive elements, however, occur when the segment pokes fun at residents who either don't speak English fluently or don't speak it at all — the show plays cricket sounds for the latter. Despite O'Reilly calling the segment "gentle fun," he acknowledges at the end of the clip that the network is "going to get letters."

Well, Fox got letters. The controversial segment drew the ire of The Asian American Journalists Association, which requested an apology for the "racist" piece. Perhaps that's what you could call this tweet from Watters: "My man-on-the-street interviews are meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek and I regret if anyone found offense."

Racism should be uncomfortable

Melissa Francis of Fox News' Outnumbered found herself on difficult footing defending President Donald Trump's stance on the clash between between white supremacist protesters and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017. Fellow panelists Juan Williams and Marie Harf criticize Trump for saying there were "very fine people on both sides," but Francis suggests the president was simply misunderstood and had a point. As her peers push back, Francis seems to realize she's on shaky ground, and her emotions got the best of her. "Can I tell you this, I am so uncomfortable having this conversation," she says, breaking down into tears. "I know what's in my heart, and I know that I don't think anyone is different, better, or worse based on the color of their skin, but I feel like there is nothing any of us can say without being judged."

Co-host Harris Faulkner steps in to comfort Francis, acknowledging that "it's a difficult place where we are" but firmly asserting: "This is not 1950. We can do this. We can have this conversation. Oh yes, we can, and it's okay if we cry having it."

Bill Nye keeps it simple

The segment on climate change between Tucker Carlson and Bill Nye the Science Guy was touchy from the beginning. The two men speak over and interrupt each other throughout the entire interview, but it takes a turn for the worse when Carlson tries to stump Nye. "The core question, from what I can tell, is, why the change?" Carlson asks. "Is it part of the endless cycle of climate change or is human activity causing it?" Tucker suggests that this is "an open question, not a settled question." Shaking his head in disbelief, Nye responds, "It's a settled question. Human activity is causing climate change." 

Carlson and Nye then trudge through an incredibly awkward exchange. Each time Nye provides an answer to a question, Carlson changes the question slightly and insists Nye can't answer the question. Carlson seems to want to define the direct impact that humans have had on the environment, and Nye attempts to deliver that answer. "The speed that climate change is happening is caused by humans," he says. "Instead of happening on time scales of millions of years or, let's say, 15,000 years, it's happening on the timescale of decades and now years." 

Visibly frustrated, Carlson concludes the interview by telling Nye, "so much of this you don't know. You pretend that you know, but you don't know, and you bully people who ask you questions." 

Bill O'Reilly, out of context

Bill O'Reilly was none too pleased to hear about a Colorado high school assembly that had four guest speakers talk to kids about drugs and sex. According to O'Reilly, "all the panelists were far left individuals, and they encouraged illegal drug use and indiscriminate sexual activity." He invites two students from the school to discuss the "insane" assembly — one who was against it and one who "didn't see anything wrong with it."

Jesse Lange, the student who supported the assembly, calls it "really educational. They had a lot of good real-world advice. They offered up countless consequences to practicing unsafe sex, to taking drugs, and I really don't think that, if you went to the conference and you heard the stuff, that there was that much objectionable material."

O'Reilly disagrees. He argues that one of the guests, psychologist Joel Becker, was condoning drug use by using a joke he made about "maybe" trying ecstasy when discussing the history of psychedelics. Lange then flips the script on O'Reilly. "I think it's ironic that you would point out condoning drug use," the teen says. "In your own book, The O'Reilly Factor for Kids, you liken a high school student, a model student, 'toking on Saturday nights to a brain surgeon enjoying a martini while not on call.'"

"OK," O'Reilly says. "You took it totally out of context."

Tucker Carlson wrote a whole book

After the violent attacks at Ohio State University in 2016 were determined to be influenced by ISIS, Tucker Carlson invited Georgetown professor Engy Abdelkader to discuss possible reasons for radicalization. Carlson immediately confronts Abdelkader about a paper she wrote on how alienation in America can be a factor in radicalization. "You don't address problems within the religion or the Islamic community," Carlson says. "You turn it, instead, back on America and the West by saying our intolerance causes this." The professor explains that her research out of Stanford University showed that "Islamophobia can contribute to a sense of, what they term as, 'cultural homelessness.'" This void can then be filled in other ways. 

Carlson sticks with his original point, accusing Abdelkader of "victim blaming" and pointing to the "almost 100 [Americans] killed, 350 or more injured" by "Islamic terror." This is when she informs him that "there's actually a greater threat of terrorism from white supremacist groups and right-wing extremists than there are from individuals who self-identify as Muslim." Carlson tells her she's wrong and asks her to cite her sources, which she does: The FBI.

Still, Carlson calls her point "unsupportable" and tells her that he "actually wrote a whole book on crime." The Fox News host and crime author then advises his guest and other Muslims to "pause for a minute and reflect on what's gone wrong in your community," suggesting that they "do some soul-searching."

How does Reza Aslan know about Jesus?

When Lauren Green interviewed historian Reza Aslan about his book on Jesus entitled Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, things went off the rails right away. Green started with a question that would direct the entire interview: "You're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?"

Clearly taken aback, Aslan attempts to helps Green understand his position. "To be clear," he says. "I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament and fluency in Biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim." Green still can't seem to wrap her head around the thought of a Muslim man writing about a prominent figure in Christianity. In total, Aslan clarifies his position as an academic in the history of religions six times.

Green also appears to not fully grasp what academic discourse entails. She suggests Aslan is "not being honest" because other scholars and writers interpret the source material differently. She also accuses him of trying to hide his faith, which ignores "the second page of [his] book," where he discloses that information. Later, when speaking with Piers Morgan, Aslan said that he was "embarrassed" by Green's questions, in spite of the fact that his book sales jumped when the awkward interview went viral.

Quit playing games with Dr. Carl Hart

In Bill O'Reilly's special report titled "The Perfect Storm" of increased marijuana use, video games, and texting, the former Fox News host argues that young people combine these things to "build false lives and run away from reality." One of his guests on the show, Dr. Carl Hart of Columbia University, could only chuckle at the suggestion that marijuana usage and texting was contributing to America becoming a weaker nation. "Bill, let's slow down," he says. "Let's think about the last three guys who occupied the White House. They all smoked marijuana in their youth." 

Undeterred, O'Reilly points to the growing prevalence of marijuana use, but Hart quickly shuts that down as well. "That's not true," he says. "Let's talk about the data. In 1978, the recent number of marijuana smokers in the 12th grade, it was 37 percent … Today, that number is down to 22 percent." The two men proceed to argue over who has the right numbers. Rather smugly, O'Reilly tells Hart to "take it up with the National Institutes of Health." But if O'Reilly thinks he's won this round, he's got another thing coming.  

"I am a council member on the National Institutes of Health," Hart says. "You're number is wrong."

Bill Burr in the saddle of morning television

Inviting Bill Burr to a morning show is just asking for trouble. The comedian's R-rated material is not breakfast-friendly, but that didn't stop Good Day New York from asking him on to discuss his animated TV show, F is for Family. After some harmless banter, Rosanna Scotto brings up Burr's "Christian background" and says that "some people think you went a little too far." She then tells Burr that "they thought that maybe you were being a little disrespectful to the Christian religion."

"Who did?" Burr asks. "I don't even know what you, I mean, we did maybe two jokes about that," he says, flabbergasted. "Don't you think that the Catholic church went a little too far, more so than my cartoon?" he asks, laughing.

The hosts, seeing the direction Burr is going, try to change the subject, but it's too late. Burr starts talking about the crimes of the Catholic church. "I know it's a morning show," Burr says. "If you want to feel good about America, you watch the morning shows. … Look at how yellow this couch is, it's like the sun." Ironically, as Burr pokes fun at modern-day joke sensitivity and the concept of out-of-bounds humor, both hosts are nearly trembling with discomfort and frantically trying to shift the conversation to more palatable topics.

Too embarrassing to air

While at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Rutger Bregman raised the issue of tax avoidance and higher taxes for the world's elite. His bravado got the attention of Tucker Carlson of Fox News, who then invited Bregman to his show. Quite clearly a man of the people, Carlson starts by commending Bregman for speaking directly to the rich about taxes and hypocrisy. "If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to you," he says, but the pleasantries stop there because Bregman has a bone to pick with Carlson too. "The vast majority of Americans, for years and years now, according to the polls, including Fox News viewers and including Republicans, are in favor of higher taxes on the rich," the Dutch historian says. "…But no one's saying that at Davos, just as no one's saying it on Fox News."

Carlson remains composed during this subtle attack on his network. He tries to defend it by suggesting that the news network has addressed taxes in the past, but Bregman isn't buying it. He accuses Fox of being involved in "bribery" and taking "dirty money" from billionaires. "You're not part of the solution, Mr. Carlson," Bregman said. "You're part of the problem, actually." It's here that Carlson explodes, calling Bregman a "moron" with a "tiny brain" and adding the oh-so-eloquent request "to go f**k yourself." The interview never aired, but it was leaked.

Fox vs the atheist

Neither Bill O'Reilly nor Sean Hannity were too happy with David Silverman and his organization, American Atheists, claiming religions are "scams." In 2011, Silverman visited The O'Reilly Factor to explain his stance. Early in the interview, O'Reilly sets the tone for what's to come when he admits, "I know I'm not the smartest guy in town." He then presses Silverman to explain why he believes religions are frauds. "You sit here and you're skeptical everyday," Silverman replies." Then you go to church and you get on your knees and you pray to an invisible man in the sky, and you don't think that's a scam?" 

O'Reilly then tells Silverman why he believes in God. "Tide goes in, tides goes out," O'Reilly says. "Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that." (O'Reilly is free to believe what he wants and for whatever reason, but you have to wonder if he's learned about the moon yet?)

While this was awkward, Silverman's interview with Hannity the following year was even worse. Silverman suggests that many atheists are participating in a religion against their will — a claim Hannity cannot accept. "Nobody's forced," he says. "They're too weak to stand up for their own convictions." Hannity goes all in. "You're looking at this from a very narrow, egotistical vantage point," he says. "You can't believe in something greater than you."

Respectfully, 'shut up,' Jeremy Glick

When Bill O'Reilly discovered that Jeremy Glick, the son of a man who lost his life in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, signed his name to an anti-war campaign, he invited him to appear on The O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly starts off the meeting by voicing his displeasure with the anti-war ad and saying, "This ad equates the United States with the terrorists." Glick explains that George Bush Jr. inherited "a political legacy that's responsible for training — militarily, economically, and situating geopolitically — the parties involved in the alleged assassination and murder of my father and countless of thousands of others."

This doesn't sit well with O'Reilly, but the interview doesn't get ugly until Glick accuses the host of using 9/11 to "evoke sympathy." O'Reilly gets louder and angrier, trying to explain to Glick why he thinks Glick should be angrier at the people of Afghanistan. After berating him, pointing his finger in his face, and ordering him to "shut up," O'Reilly ends the interview by telling Glick, "I'm not going to dress you down anymore, out of respect for your father." 

This begs the question, how would O'Reilly have treated his guest if he didn't have respect for his father?