Many non-Fox viewers are familiar with Fox News Channel's superstar pundit Bill O'Reilly, but they are perhaps less aware of his self-styled impish and incorrigible sidekick, Jesse Watters. In a nutshell, he's Fox's answer to Jimmy Kimmel, a fratty and sardonic 30-something (although he's closing in on 40), who usually sports a toothy grin and a generous dab of hair gel on his scalp. Enjoying his own segment on O'Reilly's show, "Watters' World," he can usually be found infiltrating liberal strongholds such as college campuses, Bill de Blasio press conferences or the Democratic National Convention, trying to catch lefties off guard, exposing them as a bunch of pot-smoking, soft-headed slackers.
Usually he can find at least one bamboozled philosophy major who doesn't know the national debt by heart, prompting a snappy one-liner from Watters, a zany sound effect from the producers and a pithy throw back to O'Reilly in the studio.
On Monday, Watters might have gotten a little too comfortable in his role of right-wing gadfly in a visit to Cornell University, another dispatch from the "indoctrination" camps of liberal America.
At one point, he asked a nonwhite female student whether she felt the phrase "Islamic terror" is offensive. When she answered yes, he quipped that he must have missed all the "Episcopalian" terrorists out there (presumably distracted by the number of Muslims).
Plugging away with his usual schtick to another female Cornell student, he offered to buy her one of Donald Trump's “Make America Great Again” hats.
"You can’t buy me anything," she shot back.
“Dinner?” he asked.
“Okay, this got weird,” she said, walking away as Watters laughed.
In the middle of another interview, Cornell's deputy director of media relations interrupted Watters and asked him not to interview students on campus. Watters protested, saying he had the permission of his latest subject. Eventually he met with the senior director, who denied him permission to film on campus altogether and promised to send him the university's statement later.
Cornell University did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
When the segment wrapped up, Watters surmised that Cornell probably felt threatened by Fox's exposure of the pervasive liberal infiltration of the education system. Fox's audience agreed, with a headline at the community page Fox Nation declaring, "Cornell University Kicks Jesse Watters Off Campus for Asking About Liberal Bias." O'Reilly, for his part, offered the tongue-in-cheek theory that the college was creeped out by the mitten-like gloves he wore at the time.
When contacted, Fox News did not offer further comment on the incident.
Getting kicked off an Ivy League campus is the latest feather in Watters' cap as Fox's resident "bad boy" shock-jock interviewer. His portfolio to date includes stalking a female reporter, ambushing a 75-year-old PBS host, and telling homeless New Yorkers to get jobs.