Who fought in the Civil War? What is Memorial Day for? Whom did we defeat in the American Revolution?
Pretty simple questions. And yet the answers that Fox News Channel jester Jesse Watters elicits in his “Watters’ World” on-the-street interviews airing on “The O’Reilly Factor” will make you weep with both laughter and despair. Did you know, for instance, as one person answered, that the Civil War was between North America and South America?
Huntington resident Watters, 38, has been characterized as an ambush journalist — he’s surprised people such as former NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller on the street and a Florida mayor who sued a family over a Christmas light display you could practically see from space — but Fox News considers him simply a humorous commentator.
He is funny, no question. And Saturday at 8 p.m., he takes his “Watters’ World” segments to Jones Beach in the latest of the monthly specials he’s done since November.
You’re from Philadelphia, and moved here around 11th grade when your dad became headmaster of The Green Vale School in Old Brookville. What high school did you attend?
Friends Academy [in Locust Valley]. I wouldn’t call myself a Quaker. But I went to Quaker schools and I liked the Quaker school experience a lot.
So, how tough are you on your fellow Long Islanders at Jones Beach?
I’m not going to pull any punches. I never do that. You know, I grew up in Philly and when I go down to Philly some of my buddies get mad because people from Philly can’t answer questions like “How many senators are there?” My friends are like, “Why do you make us look bad?”
I’ve shot on Long Island dozens of times and people say, “Take it easy on us.” But that wouldn’t be fair, would it? We’ve done a few pieces at Old Westbury Gardens. We’ll go out to the Hamptons and I’ll make some trouble at some polo matches. I’ve locked horns with Rosie O’Donnell at the Book Revue in Huntington.
I’m curious: Politico said in 2012 that you donated 500 bucks to President Obama’s campaign.
What that was . . . I think I went to a Katy Perry concert. I love Katy Perry. It was out in L.A., I think, and I think you had to donate to go to the concert.
Have you ever thought about running for office yourself?
Watters for president? I don’t know if I can take the pay cut. Not something I’m thinking about right now. But if you want to donate to my campaign, you can send me a check!
That depends. Are you doing a concert?
(Laughs.) Good one.