Members of ThinkProgress attended the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC today. While we were there, we happened to see Fox News producer Jesse Watters and decided to try to interview him about why he stalked and ambushed ThinkProgress Managing Editor Amanda Terkel in March while she was on vacation in rural Virginia.
At first, Watters tried to walk away from us, but we were able to chat with him as he waited for the elevator. When we said we were from ThinkProgress.org, he replied, “I don’t know that organization.” But as soon as we mentioned the ambush of Amanda, he turned to his cameraman and said, “Oh, shoot this. Shoot this. Shoot this.”
We pointed out to Watters that O’Reilly has said he always contacts people to give them a chance to respond before ambushing them. Watters attempted to stall several times before answering the question, but eventually responded:
WATTERS: We called her office.
Q: She said she got no call.
WATTERS: Yeah, no — I called her office twice.
Q: Who in the office did you call?
WATTERS: I called the main number.
Q: The main number?
WATTERS: Yeah, I called the main number and asked if Amanda Terkel was there.
Watters then began to say that he contacted Amanda Terkel “before we went after –” but stopped himself before finishing the sentence and instead said, “Yeah, before we went there.”
Watters is lying, just like he did when he claimed he contacted Hendrick Hertzberg before accosting him in New York City. No one at the Center for American Progress ever received a call from Jesse Watters or anyone else at Fox News about having Amanda appear on the show. (Of course, O’Reilly’s producers had no trouble finding CAP’s media booker a few days later when they then wanted John Podesta to appear on the show.)
Watters also tried to play off staking out Amanda’s apartment, following her on vacation, and ambushing her on the street as a friendly interview. “Amanda Terkel is a very nice person, and she sat down with me, and we did an interview. She was very gracious to take my questions and I really appreciate that. … Tell her I said hello.” He then looked into the camera and said, “Hey Amanda, how are you doing?” (As we pointed out to him, Amanda never “sat down” with Watters; she had to stop on the street while on vacation and talk to Watters because he and his cameraman had followed her for two hours.)
As Watters walked away from us into the elevator, we asked Watters why he refused to comment to the New York Times about his ambush tactics. “I didn’t refuse to comment to the New York Times,” he replied. “Don’t believe everything you read in the New York Times.” Watch it:
New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, who wrote the story on Watters’ ambush tactics, responds on Twitter: “I called Mr. Watters repeatedly at his office #, and he referred my calls to Fox’s PR people. He refused to comment.”