Doggonit, I love when a plan comes together! And when that plan involves interviewing one of the hottest authors of the summer season, that’s pretty cool. But when that author happens to also be one of the most prominent personalities in American news media, well, that’s as impressive as that time I dined with “the Donald” back in the ’90s. True story.
Founded a few years ago by political guru, Charlie Kirk, the powerhouse movement, Turning Point USA, is the go-to “safe space” for today’s young conservatives. And the annual Student Action Summit (SAS) is geared specifically to Turning Point’s college crowd.
After being approved for press credentials to cover the recent four-day SAS 2021 event in Tampa, I began reaching out and putting in for interview ops with an array of political figures and media types who were scheduled to attend and speak at SAS. In short order, I was receiving positive email responses from a slew of press secretaries and other PR reps. Before I knew it, I’d scored an interview with FOX News “poster boy,” Jesse Watters — author of the newly-released bestseller, How I Saved the World.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when arranging any big-name interview, I would have to be as flexible as Gumby and expect that it won’t go as planned. In fact, a major interview op never is a “done deal” until the cat actually walks into the room or is on the line. NOT in this case. Watters’ assistant was on-point, and everything went precisely according to plan.
Dressed conservative chic, Watters met me at the SAS Media Row wearing a sharp blue suit with a simple, yet stylish white (non-popped) open-collar shirt. Truth be told, if the guy looked any crisper he would have snapped in half. And that hair — c’mon, man. If I looked half that good when I was young, I probably coulda saved the world too. But I digress.
Confident without coming off (too) arrogant, and just a smidge cocky without being off-putting, Watters was exactly as anyone would expect who watches his weekly Watters’ World show or his daily co-hosting gig on The Five.
Having recently read and reviewed How I Saved the World, I would argue whether or not Watters actually did save the world. However, as an avid reader, starved for a treat, he at least saved my summer. I cut to the chase quickly, inquiring how it feels to have the hottest book of the season.
“It feels good,” Watters replied, without skipping a beat. “If The (New York) Times didn’t make me #1, I would have said that they rigged it against me,” he offered with a grin. “But we blew ’em away and we’re #1. But not for long, because (Mark) Levin has a book coming out next week.”
In his book, Watters writes transparently — with candor and wit. And I had to ask what motivated him exactly to pen his memoir.
“Money motivated me,” he shot back in his signature style. “I needed the money. So I wrote the book for money. But I also had reached the point in my life where I could settle down and reflect on 20 years at FOX News and share my story.”
Given that a good bit of the book reflects on his own younger days in high school and abbreviated college experience (not to mention his FOX superstar status), Watters was an ideal SAS speaker. And I was curious if he had any specific insights to offer the Turning Point college crowd.
“If I had spoken to my 20-year-old self, I would have told myself to lift heavier — and not done anything (else) differently. I think I did it perfectly. But for everybody else out there at that young age, just work hard and do what you’re told. That’s very important.”
Of Dana Perino, his fabulously fetching co-host on The Five, Watters wrote (presumably as a goof) how in real life she’s strikingly different from her polished TV persona. I had to ask about that one.
“I’m going to let the audience decide — is Dana Perino a degenerate gambler?” he shot back. “She’s brutal,” he added. “Dana’s a renegade.”
Lively and entertaining, Watters’ appearance certainly was a SAS highlight, and he received a thunderous response from the estimated 3,000 who were in attendance — a point proven when nearly 1,000 fans lined up for his book signing following his speech.
Watters also wrote at length about his left-leaning parents. In fact, nearly one full chapter is dedicated to sharing his mother’s personal text rants regarding his nightly TV appearances. So I got the scoop on their reaction to the book and his incredible current success.
“My mom was shocked I could write so well. I was shocked as well,” Watters confessed. “And at this point, I think she’s just happy I have health insurance.”