You don’t know whether to laugh or weep when political humorist Jesse Watters conducts man-on-the-street interviews for his “Watters’ World” segment on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The people he meets think America fought France in the American Revolution, George Washington was our second president (after Lincoln) and China bombed Pearl Harbor.
“Watters’ World” is now a weekly prime-time show with high-profile guests airing Saturdays. Last week, President Donald Trump appeared.
This Saturday, Watters, Bill O’Reilly and comic Dennis Miller will bring their “The Spin Stops Here!” tour to the Tacoma Dome. The evening features commentary and a Q&A session.
While he won’t have time to shoot “Watters’ World” while in Tacoma, Watters said he’ll show some clips shot backstage at the Dome on his weekend show to air April 1.
The News Tribune spoke to Watters last week.
Q: How many people do you have to go through before you find someone who gives an amusing answer during your street interviews?
A: We do not leave a lot on the cutting room floor. I’ve developed a very keen sense of who is going to make a good interview over the years just by eyeballing people and gauging their energy. Bottom line: I’m looking for characters, people with personality, a look, a vibe. We try to fulfill every demographic. But somebody with a nose ring and green hair — I’m going to try and stop them (to interview).
Q: Has the tone or mood of your audience changed since the presidential election?
A: They were tuned out (after the 2012 presidential election). Then, in October or November, you were hearing one thing in the press, and you’re were seeing something different in the street. There is a silent majority out there that is sick of the PC madness, and just want a strong economy and want America first. They really showed their true colors on Election Day. People are engaged. They’re focused and tuned in. But on the other side of the spectrum, there’s a lot of angry Americans that haven’t gotten over the election. It’s a very emotional time.
Q: What show or segment has gotten the most response lately?
A: I’ve been going into these more liberal precincts, whether it’s protest movements or college campuses, and interviewing college students or younger Americans about how they think and how they feel. Those tend to go viral. We interviewed people about the travel ban last month. Everybody’s out on the streets protesting and skipping classes. Well, what countries are on the travel ban list? People couldn’t even name them.
Q: What are you, entertainer, journalist, something else?
A: Anything where you get paid to travel and talk to people and discuss the news, which is what I like to do. I don’t take that for granted, and it’s a lot of fun.
Q: So, you’re a guy who discusses the news?
A: I don’t know how you’d characterize me. I’m a commentator, I’m a host, and I love politics.
Q: Do you see yourself as part of the news team there at Fox or separate?
A: It’s like a newspaper. You have the opinion page and the front page. With O’Reilly and my show on the weekends, that’s definitely an opinion page type of deal. So I’m definitely in the opinion realm, for sure.
Q: Who would you like to interview and why?
A: There’s people who I would like to interview who would never give me an interview, like President (Barack) Obama. Obviously, interviewing the president (Trump) is a big get. Hopefully, I’ll be doing that soon. (The day after this interview, Watters interviewed Trump in Nashville and took a tour of Air Force One. That interview aired on “Watters’ World” on Saturday.)
Bill O’Reilly, Dennis Miller and Jesse Watters: The Spin Stops Here
When: 5 p.m. March 25.
Where: Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma.