Jesse Watters ’01 Shares Stories and Advice from a Career in Television

O’Reilly Factor Producer Delivers St. Anthony Hall’s Annual Clement Lecture

Hartford, CT, May 4, 2015 – Jesse Watters ’01 has learned in the years since his graduation from Trinity that having a mentor is an important component of professional success. For Watters, that mentor just happens to be Bill O’Reilly, host of Fox News’s The O’Reilly Factor. Watters spoke about his career and other topics at St. Anthony Hall’s recent Clement Lecture in Mather Hall.

James Longley '16 and Hollis Alpert '16 introduce Jesse Watters '01 at the Annual Clement Lecture
 Members of St. Anthony Hall, parents, alumni, and other guests crowded in the Wean Terrace Rooms for the lecture. Watters talked about the path he has taken, graduating with a B.A. in history and starting at the bottom at Fox News; literally, he started working in the basement logging videotape. When a position at The O’Reilly Factor opened up, Watters seized his chance, and in the years since began hosting his own segment on the show, “Watters World.”

He credits his relationship with O’Reilly for a great deal of his success. It hasn’t always been easy, he said, but having a mentor was his key to professional success. It enabled Watters to move up and investigate newsworthy events that not only helped shape his career but allowed him to work for social justice.

Jesse Watters '01
When he was new on the job, Watters was struggling to effectively pitch stories for The O’Reilly Factor. He was told that he had two weeks to turn it around or he would be fired. He ended up becoming an effective contributor the show. “Fear of failure can be a big motivator,” he said.

Watters is known for his lighthearted investigative segments, but he’s done quite serious work on The O’Reilly Factor, too. When the show was campaigning for the passage of “Jessica’s Law,” which would require tough sentences for first-time sex offenders, Watters tracked down evasive public officials to ask questions about the law and why some judges imposed lenient sentences on rapists and child molesters. Largely as a result of their reporting, the law has now been passed in 44 states.

“Information is power,” he said. “You have to stay informed.”

Watters also talked about how his time at Trinity prepared him to succeed, recalling his great teachers and experiences. While at Trinity, Watters interned for then-Senator Joseph Lieberman and studied abroad in the Netherlands. He also offered encouragement to current students preparing to launch their careers.

“If anyone wants to work at Fox News, give me your résumé,” he said.

Written by Maddie Perez ’15
Photos by John Atashian. Click here for more photos.