Conservative commentator’s racist remarks about Asian American reporter draw backlash

Betty Yu
San Francisco television reporter Betty Yu.

Outrage is building against a conservative political commentator who called a San Francisco television reporter’s appearance “aggressively Asian.”

After Steven Crowder made the racist remarks on his “Louder with Crowder” show, the Asian American Journalists Assn. condemned them as “particularly egregious at a time when the Asian American community is experiencing increased violence and xenophobia.”

Anti-Asian attacks have been on the rise nationwide, with former President Trump and others blaming China for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, YouTube temporarily suspended Crowder’s account after he uploaded a video that made false claims about the transgender community.


The segment in which Crowder spoke about KPIX reporter Betty Yu aired on the BlazeTV streaming service.

After saying, “Wow, that is an aggressively Asian face,” he explained himself.

“By the way, the reason I say that is because usually with the reporters, they’re, like, they’re kind of like Americanized Asians,” he said. “So I think it’s a good thing.”

“Yeah, yeah, no. It’s culture,” responded co-host Gerald Morgan.

“It’s a good thing,” Crowder said. “It’s full Asian.”

In a seeming reference to a stereotypically Asian accessory, another co-host, Dave Landau, said, “I wish she would have kept her fan.”

“Yeah, you know,” Crowder replied.

Yu has worked for KPIX in the Bay Area since 2013.

In a joint statement, CBS Television and KPIX-TV condemned the “horrific, racist comments” and “demeaning Asian stereotypes” on Crowder’s show.

“These hateful and offensive remarks are outrageous and destructive and reaffirm the importance of our work as journalists to shine a light on anti-Asian violence and hate speech when it occurs,” the statement said.

Anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled in California in 2020, according to the state attorney general. In Los Angeles County, they increased by 76%.

From assaults on senior citizens in the Bay Area to the shooting of six women at Atlanta-area spas, violence against Asians has surged during the pandemic.

Crowder’s comments did not surprise Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State.

“The comments Betty Yu received are reflective of the anger directed at Asians across the country,” he said. “The mocking tone and an attempt to make us feel as perpetual outsiders. When Betty Yu gets attacked, all Asians get attacked.”

Jeung is a co-founder of the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate, which has received more than 9,000 reports from across the country of anti-Asian attacks in the last year, ranging from people being coughed or spat on to being slapped or hit.

About 70% of the attacks were verbal harassment.

New report shows the breadth of anti-Asian racism, with attacks reported in hospitals, restaurants and schools

Misogyny was also an undercurrent in Crowder’s comments, said Connie Chung Joe, chief executive of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles.

“You really can’t ignore how it’s the intersection of race and gender here,” she said. “What struck me was that Crowder was saying that he found this reporter’s appearance distasteful, unpalatable, and that she was too authentic. There’s this feeling that you can only be accepted in America as long as you conform.”

Myron Quon, executive director of Pacific Asian Counseling Services, said anti-Asian comments are often downplayed as harmless.

“People who make those racist comments insist that they’re not anti-Asian. They’re not saying they hate Asian people, but they’re only making comments about a person,” Quon said. “Part of this weird underlying tension, where xenophobia is normalized, is that it’s OK to say these comments.”