'Factor’ Producer Jesse Watters on His Ambush Interviews

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," August 23, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, ambush journalism. As you may know, "The Factor" occasionally sends out producers to confront people who will not answer serious questions about controversial things they do, like judges giving child rapists probation, for example.

Now, some object to displays like these. But we feel they're a vital tool in holding public servants accountable for their actions, and we do not go after people lightly. We always ask them on the program first, or to issue a clear statement explaining their actions.

With us now "Factor" producer Jesse Watters, one of our field guides.

You were down in the Tampa, Florida area this week, and you were talking to Judge Lopez...


O'REILLY: ... who let a career criminal, 19 arrests out on low bail, and the guy promptly kills a Florida police officer.

WATERS: Right.

O'REILLY: Now, after you talked to Judge Lopez, the police came to talk to you. What happened there?

WATTERS: Well, he tried to lock us into his driveway, because we were there. And he came in, and when I was ready to leave after I was asking him the questions, he said, "No, I'm going to call the police, because you guys are trespassing."

So when the police came, they actually took my side. And it's pretty obvious, because this guy let out a guy who killed one of their cops. So the guy came over and he said, "You move the car, Judge." The judge moved the car. I came out, gave him my I.D. They gave me a little warning.

And I don't want to, you know, expose the cop or whatever, but he actually did say that this judge does have a little reputation among law officers.

O'REILLY: All right, so they were on your side.

WATTERS: Yes, pretty much.

O'REILLY: And you got a warning not to trespass.

WATTERS: Just a little slip of paper.

O'REILLY: All right. Now we don't want to trespass. We don't want to do any of that, but sometimes it's necessary, because these judges have to be held accountable. That's our philosophy. Now one of the interesting things that you did was you went down. You were the first ones — we were the first ones to confront Mike Nifong, the Duke guy. What happened there?

WATTERS: Well, that was one of the funnier ones. Because I'm actually a lacrosse player, and I felt a lot of solidarity with some of the guys that he was railroading.

I didn't think I was going to get him. Because when I went up to his property, he had gone inside to put the paper away. So I thought it was over, but he had to come back outside because he had left his dog unleashed outside.

So he came downstairs, started pointing at me, yelling. This is actually probably the dog that ate his law license, that he just had to admit to the bar. So...

O'REILLY: What was he yelling at you?

WATTERS: He said, "Get off my property. I only talk about this in the courtroom." That kind of stuff, just barking. He was very macho. The funniest part was, obviously — was that he had his bathrobe on.

O'REILLY: OK. Again, all we wanted to do was have him explain his actions to some extent and just wouldn't.

Now, one of the big ambushes we did was with NBC/Washington Post analyst Arkin — William Arkin, right? First name?


O'REILLY: Who said that our soldiers in Iraq are mercenaries, an incredibly stupid statement, as they don't get paid nearly enough. What happened here?

WATTERS: Well, I was waiting outside of his house. And he started to leave, and he was loading a lot of things into the car like ice skates, so I thought he was going to go to the local pond. He ended up driving an hour and a half from Vermont all the way to Massachusetts. So I had to follow him there.

O'REILLY: Did he know you were on his tail?

WATTERS: I couldn't tell. And so when we get to the parking lot, he was with his family. And I didn't like to do it in front of his family. We'd prefer not to have people there around.

O'REILLY: Right. Right.

WATTERS: But we had to confront him because he really slandered the troops. And I felt like it was important to represent a lot of the military families.

O'REILLY: But you don't raise your voice. You just ask him questions. And if you wanted to, you know, do it somewhere else we certainly would have done that.

It was interesting he had the NBC News cap on. That was just — I think God did that for us.


O'REILLY: You saw what a bad guy he is.

And the last guy was Conner in Ohio, a judge who gave a very light sentence to a guy who molested a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old boy. This guy was, I think, the most arrogant of all of them.

WATTERS: Yes, I waited for 10 hours on Saturday. So I was really geared up when I confronted him later on in a parking lot. So he actually said that pedophilia is similar to alcoholism, and he equated those two. He said it was a disease, and then he just flipped off.

O'REILLY: This is a bad — this is a bad guy. This is a bad guy.


O'REILLY: You know, and that's one of the good things about the ambush stuff is that we expose the — for who they are. And sometimes I feel bad about it, but you do a nice job. And Porter Barry is our other guy. And we're breaking in some others.

You're never afraid out there, are you?

WATTERS: No, I'm just afraid to come back empty-handed for you.

O'REILLY: Yes. That's who you should really be...

WATTERS: That's what I'm afraid of.

O'REILLY: Talk about an ambush, boy. You don't come back with it.

Jesse Watters, everybody. He's becoming a big star all over the world.

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