Jesse Watters begs stubborn Juan Williams to apologize to cadets for ‘racism’ smear. Things get uncomfortable.

Fox News’ Jesse Watters clashed with his co-host Juan Williams over his criticism of cadets for being racist.

The co-hosts of “The Five” got into a testy exchange Friday as Watters demanded Williams apologize for accusing West Point cadets of racism after some were caught on camera flashing the “okay” symbol at last week’s Army-Navy football game.

(Video: Fox News)

“I said that’s a dangerous symbol at a time when white supremacy is on the move in this country,” Williams said, defending his position after co-host Dana Perino reported on the latest in the incident in which a military investigation was launched into the cadets flashing the “okay” symbol during the game.

Accused of using the symbol conveying so-called “white power,”  the cadets, it was determined, were just playing the common “circle game.”

“Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously,” West Point’s superintendent said in a news release. “We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”

The university noted that, while they were cleared of any racist intent, the cadets will face “appropriate administrative and/or disciplinary actions.”

Williams continued to press his point about the use of the symbol as Watters explained the “circle game.”

“It’s when you put it down there and someone sees it, you get to punch them in the arm,” he said. “I explained that to Juan, Juan accused them of being white supremacists, so I would like Juan to apologize for accusing the cadets of using a white power symbol.”

“Let me tell you something,” Williams interjected.

“That doesn’t sound like an apology,” Waters responded.

“Jesse, we were very clear that that symbol is now associated with white supremacy,” Williams rebutted.

“Let me tell you something, Juan,” Watters shot back.

“If all of a sudden a dozen white supremacists started wearing a blue tie and the next day I wore a blue tie, am I flashing a white supremacist signal?” he asked. “No, that’s ridiculous!”

They continued to spar over the issue, with Williams accusing Watters of “minimizing” his concerns.

“Juan, I wasn’t even going to get upset, but you accused these people of being racist. They put their lives on the line for this country and you said they were racist because they made a symbol with their hands,” Watters told his colleague. “And you should apologize because I’m giving you an opportunity.”

But Williams would not comply and noted that the cadets were punished for “bad behavior.”

Co-host Greg Gutfeld gave an impassioned appeal for “some sort of retribution” when someone is falsely accused of being racist.

(Video: Fox News)

He contended that the investigation, which found that two Naval midshipmen were playing a “sophomoric game,” was only launched because of “social media turning a fake story into a phenomenon that was fanned by a bunch of people on Twitter.”

He argued that the cadets’ lives were put “in hell”because they were falsely being accused of being racist.

Guest host Emily Compagno suggested that the way to address this and other incidents is to “assume good intent.”

“Assume good intent. With social media and Twitter especially, it is the opposite … Assuming the worst intent, the automatic assumption of the worst possible scenario,” she said.

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Frieda Powers

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