Political Animal


October 03, 2011 4:30 PM Jesse LaGreca knows how to talk to Fox News

By Steve Benen

The New York Observer’s Drew Grant notes today that Fox News hasn’t been too eager to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests — oddly, the network took a far more active role in the Tea Party events in 2009 — but the Republican outlet has sent some producers to the demonstrations. To hear the protestors complaints? No, to “prank” the activists and “cut up interviews to make people sound stupid.”

In at least one instance, this didn’t work out well.

Grant posted this clip of an interview between Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and Jesse LaGreca, a member of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

In case it’s not obvious, this video is not from Fox News — for some reason, the network didn’t air the footage — but rather from OccupyWallSt.org’s media team.

Those who can’t watch clips online can read the transcript the Observer published, but I’ll just say this: Jesse LaGreca appears to be pretty good at this. It’s tougher than it looks and this guy was on message.

Even when the producer tried to get him to condemn President Obama — a standard Fox News move when talking to liberal activists — LaGreca responded with a message the network probably didn’t want to hear:

“I think, myself, as well as many other people, would like to see a little but more economic justice or social justice — Jesus stuff — as far as feeding the poor, health care for the sick. You know, I find it really entertaining that people like to hold the Bill of Rights up while they’re screaming at gay soldiers, but they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a for-profit healthcare system doesn’t work. So, let’s just look at it like this, if we want the president to do more, let’s talk to him on a level that actually reaches people, instead of asking for his birth certificate and wasting time with total nonsense like Solyndra.”

Good for him. In fact, it seems to me LaGreca should be on television more.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


  • SYSPROG on October 03, 2011 4:34 PM:

    WHAT? The media have a REAL person on instead of the same ol' talking heads? Ain't gonna happen. It would destroy what they THINK the narrative should be.

  • June on October 03, 2011 4:42 PM:

    I agree with you, Benen - excellent!

  • leo on October 03, 2011 4:59 PM:

    From the transcript:

    Fox: Were here giving you an opportunity on the record [] to put any message you want out there, to give you fair coverage and Im not going to in any way.

    If they never broadcast the thing, what 'opportunity'?

  • Ahoy Polloi on October 03, 2011 5:00 PM:

    The problem is, this guy is better at this stuff than 90% of elected Dems.

    Anyone catch Meet the Press on Sunday? Xavier Becerra may be the chair of the house dem caucus, but i wouldn't even want him writing a letter to the editor on my behalf; the guy was totally ineffective, even when Gregory pitched softballs at him.

    Its not the message, it's the goddamn worthless messengers. And this just goes to show it.

  • Squeaky McCrinkle on October 03, 2011 5:02 PM:

    That almost restores my faith that the America I once knew must still be out there somewhere. Jesse LaGreca makes a very credible alternative to the other side's stupid "Joe the Plumber" stuff. Here's a "man in the street" who knows what he's talking about, and how to talk about it.

  • bobbo on October 03, 2011 5:12 PM:

    Love that guy!

  • Texas Aggie on October 03, 2011 5:17 PM:

    Leo, I caught the same thing and have the exact same question. It sort of shoots holes in everything that Fox says, doesn't it?

  • square1 on October 03, 2011 5:30 PM:

    What? Obama and Biden are "on message". The only problem is that the message is that the country is worse off than it was 4 years ago and they want to accept responsibility for it. O-kay...

  • Ron Byers on October 03, 2011 5:35 PM:

    I watched this earlier and loved it. If Fox gave him an opportunuity to put his thoughts on the record how come they haven't aired the tape? Greta, are you afraid your grayhaired Fox News junkies will soil themselves if you air this tape?

    Fox News reminds me of Richard Dawson's Network in the "Running Man." All propaganda, all the time.

  • laceface on October 03, 2011 5:43 PM:

    this guy is my new hero!

  • mdk on October 03, 2011 5:52 PM:

    Has the OWS movement found its Mario Savio? For those who don't know Mario - look him up.

  • Sarafina on October 03, 2011 6:06 PM:

    Jesse posts frequently on Daily Kos under the name Ministry of Truth. Check him out, he's awesome!!!

  • bdop4 on October 03, 2011 6:08 PM:

    This guy rocks, and is representative of a lot of the people currently occupying wall street.

    I encourage everyone to check out the OccupyTVNY channel on YouTube. Excellently produced videos of various OWS elements and a number of thoughtful interviews with participants.

  • Bruce Webb on October 03, 2011 6:15 PM:

    Actually what Jesse needs is someone to give him a job. He posts under the name MinistryofTruth at dKos and is open about the fact he literally struggles for rent each month.

    Maybe he could get on TV more if someone in DC offered him a paid internship or something. Man if I only knew someone with DC or NYC connections?

    Hopefully this is jesse's/ MoT's ticket to if not ticket to fame at least rent money. Or at least a little coin sent to his Paypal account (see his Page at dKos).

  • FRP on October 03, 2011 6:21 PM:

    Echoing other comments , it is not at all an easy matter to keep a creeping emotional force from entering a reply to a provocateurs propaganda machine microphone . I doubt I could have hit every point this guy hit with the light touch , hard points and deprecating , selfless presence .
    Well done sir , and , yes I reach for a Barny Frank or an Al Franken but precious few ladies and gentlemen who carry an edge with a point when the opportunity arises .
    Just for giggles try and imagine (full name) Joseph Isador Lieberman making one , any , point without an effortless , virtuoso irritation delivered to a listening , breathing , suffering , captive humanity .

  • Curmudgeon on October 03, 2011 6:22 PM:

    I would love to see this guy on Rachel Maddow's show.

    (hint hint!!)

  • exlibra on October 03, 2011 6:36 PM:

    Yeah, but the guy probably has marble countertops.

  • pokeybob on October 03, 2011 6:50 PM:

    Jesse LaGreca was soo patient. As if he knew what the faux news guy was going to say...Hmmmm. And yes, he is on message better than most of the DNC people by far. That footage will never be on my TV.

  • Brenna on October 03, 2011 6:51 PM:

    Awesome interview! I'd love to see more of this guy.

  • brent on October 03, 2011 7:10 PM:

    The thing that is so frustrating to me is that I and plenty of people I know say these things pretty much every day. We even discuss a lot of these issues here. I realize its much more difficult when on camera but my point is that what LaGreca is doing there should not be, in any way, revelatory. He is speaking the plain truth to which anyone, who is paying even a modicum of attention, can agree. But in the context of our unbelievably stupid discourse, his expression of that truth is something quite remarkable. If you watch, not just Fox News, but MSNBC, or any of the major network television discussions of these issues for days on end, you will not be likely to hear a single sentence which even address the issues, crucial issues, that LaGreca is discussing in that clip. Its deeply upsetting.

  • deanarms on October 03, 2011 7:13 PM:

    I love it! I don't want this to be taken the wrong way, but Jesse is like the left's Joe the Plumber. With one big difference -- he has a brain. I mean he's a plain spoken, well spoken guy, a regular Joe, who stepped up and dished it out pretty darn well. I would love to see this segment on Rachel's show. And I agree with most commenters here -- we should be seeing more of Jesse.

  • JW on October 03, 2011 7:38 PM:

    "Good for him. In fact, it seems to me LaGreca should be on television more".

    Which is why you're not a corporate media executive.

    Which is not to say you can't be bought. Just look what happened to the once upright Christiane Amanpour.

  • Rich on October 03, 2011 7:45 PM:

    Nice to see this go viral. It has 2-fold importance--showing what Faux News doesn't include on its newscasts and presenting an articulate face of protest.

  • Bob on October 03, 2011 8:07 PM:

    The Jesse LaGreca clip was fabulous. The Progressive answer to that idiot "Joe the Plumber." I have no doubt the House Democratic Caucus could really use a guy like that in their press office - yet they'd never hire him. Maybe Job Stewart would offer him a gig?

  • Lance on October 03, 2011 9:26 PM:

    My New Hero!

  • Harvest on October 03, 2011 10:01 PM:


    Jesse LaGreca is a frequent contributor to Daily Kos and is, or has recently been, homeless. No marble countertops to be seen anywhere near him -- the real deal. He's a writer and activist and deserves some respect for doing what the elected Democrats, making $174K a year, seem unable to do -- convey a coherent message...

  • wyatt on October 03, 2011 10:12 PM:

    anyone else heading up to New York this weekend? i'm thinking this is something worth getting involved with. if nothing else let's get more progressive with a way with words near some damned TV cameras.

  • exlibra on October 03, 2011 10:37 PM:

    Harvest, @10:01 PM,

    My bad, I misremembered. It's not marble countertops, it's *granite* ones:
    (or Google: "granite countertops Michelle Malkin")

    Also, too, a little bit of a sense of humour is a good friend to have.

    Have to share craptcha, again; it's priceless. "1972-1977. ntracil" it says. What I *think* that means is that, in that 5yr period, there was a medication being developed to counteract racist nuttery. It's too bad it has been abandoned

  • hornblower on October 04, 2011 1:04 AM:

    He did a real nice job criticizing Fox News. I am sure we will be seeing more of him. Cable is always looking for new voices and he could probably use a job.
    Maybe this is like Coxey's Army that marched on Washington in 1894. But I think Jesse is a rare articulate spokesperson for a movement that has no coherent message and goals that are too general. In spite of progressive angst the best hope for progress is the re-election of President Obama with a healthy majority that can reform the Senate which has ceased to function. But as long as the weather is nice why not do some marchin'

  • Jay Ackroyd on October 04, 2011 3:09 PM:

    Just came from #OWS. Ran into Jesse/MoT. I complimented him on the Union soldier's cap. And he laughed. He said he gets a lot of "Why are you wearing a Confederate cap?" to which he replies: "Another demonstration of the effectiveness of the American education system."

  • Monster on October 04, 2011 5:57 PM:

    yeah he is a real man of the people.... he writes for a a liberal blog and travels to other areas where there are protests going on...... im gonna just call him out as the fake he is

  • Monster on October 04, 2011 6:00 PM:

    if he is always broke how was he able to take part in the madison protests.....

  • honolulu mark on October 04, 2011 11:37 PM:

    Jesse gets it. Tell him he has my support and that of millions of americans who, so far, have been silent. But after hearing him will rise up. Keep it up Jesse.

  • robert on October 06, 2011 5:16 AM:

    Wow! What a laser beam. What we all know and think and feel and he packs it all into a few sentences. Jesse for senate! Stewart, ......Maddow.... at least get him on TV. We need more heroes.

  • John on October 06, 2011 9:39 PM:

    Why waste time on Solyndra and wasteful government spending when we are broke, maybe that's why we are broke.
    The largest government sponsored subprime mortgage lender Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under Franklin Raynes made it appear that the company had reached earnings targets, thus triggering the maximum possible payout for executives including Raines, Howard and others. Of $52.8 million in bonuses Raines received during the six years might have been linked to improper accounting manipulation.
    I agree we should burn these politicians.

  • Anonymous on October 11, 2011 3:41 PM:

    occupy movement has no party affiliation. http://anonpad.org/PsyOpWatch

    Jesse LaGreca added to psyopwatch
    all the democrats want to politically hijack the occupy movement
    beware, they may hire people like jesse to hijack the occupy movement

  • Linda Hamilton on November 01, 2011 1:59 PM:

    I am a 66 year young great grandmother and I am behind all of you young people all the way.I heard Jesse on the Tom Hartman show today on Free Speech TV and was so impressed with him and also thought ,this is the young man we need in Washington and not the whimps we have.I wish I knew where I could donate to the movement or to him.

  • elche on November 06, 2011 7:03 PM:

    That was unquestionably the most refreshing thing I've seen in the media in recent memory. What Jesse La Greca said was absolutely correct- if those in the red states took a pause from the hate-fest and actually listened to what guys like this are saying, the bottom would fall out of the Republican party. He articulates what many people would like to but can't- somebody with the means needs to get this guy wider exposure. Right on La Greca!

  • Dorothy Anne Fischer on November 18, 2011 8:19 PM:

    I heard that there are some truckers that are talking about shutting down the roads in and out of D.C. to keep the congress in session until some changes are made?
    Just park and leave their rigs? It would have to be owner operators.....the corporation truckers probably couldn't do that. I don't know. Are they unionized? Have you heard anything about this?

  • mikey on November 25, 2011 1:02 AM:

    (Raises power left fist for jesse)

  • Becky on November 25, 2011 12:50 PM:

    Wouldn't you like - just once - to hear someone, anyone,
    from either side, say that the payroll tax cut is a cut
    in the percentage we pay into Social Security, and this
    cut is undermining the solvency of the program? Obama's
    speech in Manchester, NH this week was all about preserving
    the payroll tax cut. Either he doesn't realize what is
    actually being cut, or he's onboard for destroying social
    security. Anyone?

  • John Ward on January 03, 2012 6:12 AM:

    Studying this debate confirmed my belief that Martin Gray got it right in his book 'For those I loved'.
    In his experience he met what he called "Butchers" in every nation who are pitiless in their self involvement and ruthless to any perceived threat to their position of power. He claimed he could see it in their eyes.
    4% of our population are Psychopaths and/or sociopaths who by dint of their intelligence and belief in their ability to charm, speak the words and work their way up any organisation, are the fragile corruption of our financial industrial and political systems. John Howard was such a glib chameleon and his behaviour shows he could even try to convince us that he was a cricket tragic like Menzies. Until he tried to bowl a ball! I believe he held us in contempt because he could fool us.
    The GFC is down to these few who have shown they are now more powerful than Governments, whom they have forced to bail them out.
    Until these individuals are held personally accountable for their actions and can no longer hide behind 'Corporate Person-hood', they will continue to edge our systems to the point of collapse.
    This is what the the occupation movement is instinctively finding it's way to oppose.
    It has only taken a few rotten eggs to bring the world nations to near collapse. When it does they will probably give themselves a bloody bonus!