On July 19 2023, a post on Reddit’s r/TikTokCringe — a forum dedicated, as its name indicates, to cringe-inducing videos — purportedly depicted an on-air phone discussion between Fox News personality Jesse Watters and his mother:
Its title referenced NBC’s The Office (“I’m doing the Michael Scott grimace this whole vid,”) and the attached TikTok clip was originally shared by @vicenews on July 18 2023. Alongside that TikTok post, Vice News wrote:
Jesse Watters has been a longtime conservative personality at Fox News, and has been slammed for spreading baseless conspiracy theories about “rigged elections,” including targeting the FBI. #jessewatters #foxnews #conspiracy #conspiracytherory #conservativemedia
Watters himself tweeted a version of the clip on July 17 2023 (the date on which the segment aired), and it appeared the airing marked Watters’ first show in a time slot vacated by former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson:
In both clips, Watters informed the audience that a viewer called in to the show. Watters then introduced the caller as “a Democrat” and his mother, whose name (Anne Purvis) appeared in an Insider.com article about the segment.
I have enjoyed the show i want to say congratulations honeybun we are so proud of you and your accomplishments and you’ve worked so hard.
Now let’s aim to have you keep your job, and to that end I do have some suggestions:
Do not tumble into any conspiracy rabbit holes. We do not want to lose you, and we want no lawsuits — okay? In keeping — I have a list here — in keeping with the Hippocratic Oath, do no harm. We need you to be kind, and respectful, you yourself mentioned “humble” is a stretch so I– I get that.
Use your voice responsibly, to promote conversation that maintains a narrative thread — there really has been enough Biden bashing, and the laptop [allegedly belonging to President Biden’s son Hunter Biden] is old.
Perhaps you could suggest that your people take less interest, for example, in other people’s bodies, and talk about that …
At that juncture Watters interrupted his mother, and claimed that the unspecified segment in question was about “taking other people’s interest away from children’s bodies … that was the point of that segment.” Watters then said “Mom, I love you,” and “I knew this was a bad idea.”
Watters’ mother ordered him to “wait,” and continued speaking, saying:
Wait, wait wait … I want you to seek solutions versus fanning the flames — you could encourage that Bedminster friend of yours to return to his earlier career on television, everyone in his audience could wear a red hat, and I’m sure the ratings would soar.
Although never as high, my darling, as yours on Jesse Watters Primetime. Good luck … I love you … Wait I want you to seek solutions versus fanning the flames, you could encourage that Bedminster friend of yours to return to his earlier career on television everyone in his audience could wear a red hat and I’m sure the ratings would soar, although never as high, my darling, as yours on Jesse Watters Primetime, good luck … I love you … I’m thinking that a small dinner between five and eight would be the way to go.
An article by British newspaper The Independent provided additional context for counterfactual statements made by Watters during previous appearances, as well as her mention of Watters’ “Bedminster friend”:
“Perhaps you could suggest that your people take less interest, for example, in other people’s bodies, and talk about that,” she said, a likely reference to his ongoing segments ridiculing transgender people and his commentary on abortion. (Last year, Watters called a very real story about a 10-year-old girl who needed abortion care a ”hoax” and “politically timed disinformation”, then tried to take credit for putting “pressure” on the investigation after a suspect was arrested.)
She also mocked Donald Trump by referring to him as “that Bedminster friend” of her son’s.
On July 19 2023, a popular post to Reddit’s r/TikTokCringe featured an undated video, purportedly depicting Fox News personality Jesse Watters accepting an on-air call from his mother, “a Democrat.” The segment (cringe and all) was real and unaltered, and it originally aired on July 17 2023.