The Key West Mystique

Key West Island News


Key West Island News connects Key West residents and friends of the island, fosters our One Human Family culture and advances understanding of shared goals for our island community

Key West to Fox News: Don’t mess with us

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.


OK, deep breath, everyone. One more. Maybe coax a half-hearted smile?  There, we’re feeling better.

Now, we can perhaps refrain from obsessing about that Fox News-Bill O’Reilly-Jesse Watters silliness that ended up on the front page of The Citizen this week. What did we expect from Watters’ World? Surely, we weren’t expecting Jesse Watters to do a newsy travelogue all spun with Tourist Development Council goodies?

In case you’re not a fanboy of Fox News and its resident blowhard, Bill O’Reilly, you likely missed the four-minutes-and-43-seconds Watters’ World stunt on Key West. Feel free to Google. Watters is known for his rarely uplifting, always squirmable (yeah, I made up the word) entertainment segments on O’Reilly’s show.

Think of Watters as weather screamer Jim Cantore. You see either in town and you know no good will come of it.

Watters parachutes into town, does a ton of video interviews, then patches them together in ways least likely to please those most interested in putting forth the best foot. He can be funny in a sophomoric kind of way.

Watters showed up in Key West recently, made nice with the movers-and-shakers, did a bunch of walk-and-talk videos and then left all the good news and great people on the floor in favor of several of Key West’s more colorful characters — of which, of course, there is no shortage. Watters didn’t have to work very hard to find a half dozen folks more than happy to goof off with him.

And, goof they did, riffing and snarking on the seamier side of Key West stereotypes. Think “wasted away in Margaritaville” on steroids. But, then we like Jimmy Buffet; Jesse Watters? Not so much.

Watters and O’Reilly bantered live during the on-air segment, insulting Key West’s collective worthiness, including O’Reilly’s description of Key West as “a notorious outlaw town,” and capping it with this old saw:

If you shake the country, all the sediment winds up in Florida. And then if you shake Florida, the rest of the mess goes to Key West.

That got the city’s movers-and-shakers (some of whom were apparently among the ones left on the cutting room floor) in a most just snit. Meetings followed. Facebook posts were incensed. Do we sue? Demand a retraction? Write a protest letter? One high school student plans his own video response. The Citizen captured the disgruntle  under a front page headline on Friday: “Fox News outrages locals, leaders.”

By week’s end, the tempest, like all good Key West hurricanes, blew itself out.

The best quote in The Citizen came from Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Virginia Panico: Watters, she said “loved Key West and said he was going to come on vacation with his wife and two little children. I think he better come in disguise.”

Yep. Good idea.



  1. Pat Udell

    Get ’em Linda.

  2. Hugh Peche

    I agree. Retaliating would only create a media war and provide them more opportunity to have fun at our expense. Discretion is the better half of valor. Besides, we don’t lower ourselves to their supermarket-checkout level – ignoring them basically says ‘it wasn’t worth our time.’ 🙂

    • Linda Grist Cunningham

      Thanks, Hugh, for the read. No one likes being made fun of, but taking the Watters World piece too seriously isn’t worth the effort. Have a great holiday.

  3. The Joker

    It’s a sad state of affairs when people lose the ability to laugh at themselves. Why so serious?

    • Linda Grist Cunningham

      Indeed, Joker. Returning humor — even if it cuts a little close — with a grin is the right way to go.I thought the piece was funny — silly, but funny. It was clear everyone on the video was having a great time. So, here’s to a big grin on this beautiful Saturday morning. Thanks for reading.

  4. Robert Grist

    Did he not come see the enlightened ones on Olivia Street? Now you have even more reason to watch the number 1 network for honest reporting and news. Be nice-remember it is the “Christmas” season even in Key West

    • Linda Grist Cunningham

      Somehow, I knew I’d get your attention with that Fox News thing. Merry Christmas, baby brother.

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