Following comments Fox News host and Philadelphia native Jesse Watters made about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, he received a critical text from a liberal viewer — his mom.
“You do not have the expertise nor knowledge to question the special counsel’s investigation until you know what they know. Hush Jesse,” Anne Bailey Watters texted to her son, a rebuke he read on air last week. “We are a nation of laws. Please tone down the strident attack on our court system. You end up presenting a lack of a moral compass honey. We all know you are a Trumpet — you need not scream it.”
The child psychologist has become a loving critic of her son’s political opinions as the Fox News rising star has gained an elevated presence, moving up from man-on-the-street segments for Bill O’Reilly to cohosting the network’s popular panel show, The Five. Watters also hosts his own weekly show, Watters’ World, which airs on Fox News Saturday nights.
According to Watters, his mom began sending him her opinions via text message when he first became a cohost on The Five in April 2017, filling the seat on the then-9 p.m. show vacated by Eric Bolling, who was fired over sexual harassment allegations.
“At that point my mom had had a few cocktails, and she would just be a little critical about my presentation, or the content of what my commentary was,” Watters said. “She discovered how to text, and I remember in the commercial breaks reading these random texts from my mom to some of my colleagues on set, and they would laugh.”
Eventually, Watters’ producers got wind of the messages, and last October they launched the regular feature in which the host reads complaints from his Trump-hating mom on air. Watters said the segment was an instant hit with viewers.
“I think it humanizes me for the critics. People on the left in the media enjoy watching me take a ribbing from my mother,” Watters said. “It’s just a lighthearted, authentic, mother-son relationship I chose to disclose to the audience just to lighten the mood … people can relate to it.”
Part of the fun is that Watters includes his mom’s harshest opinions. Among other things, Anne Watters has warned her son not to accept an offer from Trump to become his chief of staff, mocked frequent Fox News guests Diamond and Silk, and chastised his behavior toward his cohosts. She also suggested that her son read more books to educate himself and warned him, “Stay far away from speaking for Trump.”
“I think she’s really cranked up the mom texts as the Mueller probe has gotten hotter,” Watters joked. “She’s salivating.”
Watters, who grew up in Germantown and East Falls, attended Penn Charter through his junior year before moving with his family to Long Island. Watters didn’t really get into politics until college. Once he did, he would listen to Rush Limbaugh during car rides, driving his liberal mom crazy. So in a way, he can consider her critical texts a delayed form of payback.
“Quite obviously my opposition to Jesse’s politics and delivery can be fierce. Indeed, he has always been a challenge,” Anne Watters joked. “But this next statement should be self-evident: I love him constantly and unconditionally.”
In these hyper-partisan times, most families attempt to avoid politics at the dinner table, especially on holidays. But at the Watters household, a holiday meal almost inevitably leads to political warfare.
“For the eight years under Obama, Thanksgiving and Christmas were tough. I had a long stretch there where I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, and it was frustrating,” Watters said. “But that first Thanksgiving after Trump won, I cleared out the entire Thanksgiving table. It got a little tense.”
“The battle, however, rages on and the rules of engagement dictate that there are no knives held, nor tears shed, at our family dinners,” his mother added.