Fox News’s Jesse Watters has a shtick that he regularly showcases on “The O’Reilly Factor”: Go out and interview people in the hope that they make fools of themselves. It often works, as the various segments of “Watters’ World” have proven. For example, Watters went to a Miley Cyrus concert and — you wouldn’t believe it! — proceeded to stump the young concertgoers, who failed to identify photos of Vladimir Putin and John Kerry. “Oh my God, he’s on a late night show, isn’t he?” responded one of the regular folks when shown the Kerry photo.

In March, Watters alighted on Columbia University. This exchange ensued:

Watters: Vladimir Putin just invaded Ukraine. Are you outraged by that?
Some woman: I just woke up.

After replaying some of Watters’ oeuvre, Colbert satirized, “You can’t make this stuff up, folks — at least not without an editing team.”

And that’s where Colbert dove into the mix, orchestrating a “Make Your Own Watters’ World” stunt segment, in which he dispatched a correspondent to Columbia University in an attempt to fact-check the impression cast by the real “Watters’ World.” Not so much: Students managed to identify a picture of Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, along with nailing several other questions.

So maybe “Watters’ World” edits its way to cheap laughs. If so, it follows in a cheap television tradition, one plowed in part by former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno, whose “Jaywalking” expeditions drew their pop from watching people fail civics quizzes. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” had some fun with the ignorance of passersby about competing versions of the iPhone.


Jay Walking: citizens show no knowledge of… by TalkerOne

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.