PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Talk Radio 1210’s Dom Giordano spoke with Jesse Watters from Fox News in an exclusive event at the National Constitution Center. Watters, a Correspondent for the O’Reilly Factor discussed his time at the ratings leader for cable news and rising to prominence on one of their signature programs.
He told Giordano he was struggling to get by until his first major break at the network.
“I was working in the basement at Fox, working, I think, 2pm to midnight, Tuesdays through Sundays, no health insurance, freelance, $10 an hour. I was sitting next to a girl named Candi. She dotted her I with heart, very adorable. I heard there was an opening on the O’Reilly Factor, so I said, I gotta go do this. I go up to the radio studio, when Bill had his show and we sit down for the interview and I give Bill my resume. Bill looks at me and goes, what’s your father do? First question. I told Bill what my father did and there was dead silence, very awkward. Then I said, Bill, I read your latest book, it was phenomenal. He perks up and he says you seem like a smart kid. You start Monday.”
Watters explained that it took a while for Bill O’Reilly to warm up to him, before finally offering him a chance in front of the camera.
“One of the things we have at the Factor are these things called pitch meetings. Where you’re in the middle of the newsroom and the entire staff is circled around Bill and you pitch Bill stories you think are going to make good tv. So, my first pitch meeting, I’m out there and everyone is pitching stories and Bill is knocking everyone down. You’re an idiot. That’s not going to give us a rating. What are you thinking? I get up to pitch and Bill cuts me off. Interns don’t pitch. My Producer goes, Bill, you just hired him as your new [Production Assistant]. Bill goes, alright, go! I pitch and I bomb. Later that afternoon, my Producer brings me up to the office and says, Jesse, Bill does not think you’re articulate enough for the show, you have one week to turn it around or you’re fired. So, I was hired and then Bill almost fired me. So I studied my tail off and I finally got the hang of it and the next pitch meeting, I go up and say, Bill, there’s this judge in Alabama that gave this really soft sentence to this sex offender and Bill says, alright Watters, you’re gonna go down to Alabama and confront the Judge. I was like, where is Alabama?’
He also admitted that even after a successful debut in what would emerge as his featured segment, he still had a lot of work to earn to do to earn O’Reilly’s support.
“We tail this judge through the back roads of Alabama and I run up on him and I say Judge Bush, Judge Bush, how could you do this? He goes, I’m not Judge Bush. He goes I’m state trooper but I’m going to tell Judge Bush you’re looking for him. So, the first time I ambushed someone, I ambushed the wrong guy. The judge found out I was in town and he agreed to give an on camera statement. So, I tell Bill, on the phone, I said, Bill, he’s going talk to me in his chambers, in his robe. Bill says, Jesse, when he comes out, yell at him. I’m such a nice young man. So, the judge comes out and we’re rolling it and he comes out in his robe and he starts giving his explanation for the soft sentence and I start just hammering him. Judge, don’t you believe in justice? What would you like to say to the victim’s family? He gets frazzled and he runs back inside. It’s good tv. Bill brings me back up to the office the next day and he says, Watters, good job down in Alabama confronting the judge. One thing though, your voice is too high pitched for television. You need a speech coach.”