Jesse Watters, a brash correspondent for “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, has sustained criticism for his often childish and pointless man-on-the-street interviews. He has long specialized in exposing the stupidity of the average American and recently turned in an expose on homelessness at Penn Station in New York City. Back in his Comedy Central heyday, Stephen Colbert devoted minutes to satirizing Watters’ excursions.
Now for the other side of the story.
Last week, 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle was killed on a San Francisco pier, and Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a Mexican felon who’d been deported five times, has been charged with the crime. Compounding the public policy dimension of the case, San Francisco is a sanctuary city, meaning that it cooperates very little with federal immigration enforcement. The city had released Lopez-Sanchez from jail without notifying the feds.
Politicians and citizens of all stripes across the country stand in disbelief at the tragic sequence of events. No matter your position on immigration, the elected representatives of San Francisco have a great deal of questions to answer. Each and every one of them.
So “The O’Reilly Factor” put Watters on a plane. What resulted is both good journalism and outstanding television. Watch at 1:15 of this video here, O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” segment. It showcases Watters standing before the San Francisco board of supervisors with a picture of Steinle, asking if the officials had anything to say about the incident. “Thank you very much, next speaker please,” comes the deus ex machina voice shunting Watters aside. Elsewhere in his travels, Watters comes face to face with Christine Falvey, communications director for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. This exchange unfolds:
FALVEY: He did send out a statement about this issue. It’s a very serious issue.
WATTERS: Is taking it seriously just sending out a little piece of paper when someone is murdered because of a policy you support? That doesn’t sound that serious to me.
FALVEY: I don’t think that is characterized correctly.
WATTERS: How is that mischaracterizing?
FALVEY: We have taken it very seriously.
WATTERS: How did I mischaracterize though?
FALVEY: It’s deeply sad for the family. And the mayor is going to continue to work on this issue. It never should have happened and he wants to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
WATTERS: How is he making sure it doesn’t happen again, specifically?
FALVEY: On a number — he is working on a number of issues.
WATTERS: Like what?
FALVEY: He will be — he is working.
WATTERS: Because this is several times this has happened in your city. How many dead people does it take?
FALVEY: I really thank you for coming by.
WATTERS: Thank you very much.
FALVEY: And this is a very important issue.
WATTERS: Thank you very much. Please tell him I stopped by.
Watching a media flak stammering through talking points comes off so much more powerfully on television than it does in print. More of this Watters, please, and less of the Watters who makes fun of people in Bennington, Vt.