by Ryan Meehan
Jedediah Bila is an author, columnist, and TV and radio personality. Her book, OUTNUMBERED: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative, was published in May of 2011. Her columns have been published in/at Human Events, The Daily Caller, Newsmax, FoxNews.com, Breitbart.com, The Blaze, and the Association of Mature American Citizens’ newsletter. Topics include politics, culture, media, fitness, music, and more. Jedediah has guest hosted 1450 WCTC radio, as well as Varney & Co. on Fox Business, and FOH Favorite Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld on Fox News. She has been a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business, including such shows as Hannity, Fox & Friends, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, Varney & Co., America’s Nightly Scoreboard, Follow the Money, America’s Newsroom, The Tom Sullivan Show, and Lou Dobbs Tonight. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report,” The Blaze TV, and several radio shows, including The Sean Hannity Show, The Mark Levin Show, The Lou Dobbs Show, The Laura Ingraham Show, and The Monica Crowley Show. And she was kind enough to be our guest today in 5 Questions.
FOH: At what age did you decide to focus on politics and broadcasting as a career? Was there any moment that really sparked your interest in those subjects and made you want to become a part of the mainstream media?
JB: I actually didn’t get into this business until late 2009. Growing up, I was always interested in politics to an extent, but considered myself much more a literature/creative writing/theater/psychology gal. I spent most of college on a literary journey and was always fascinated with psychology because I find human nature terribly interesting. My B.A. and M.A. are in Spanish literature, and I did that as I do most things–on the spur of the moment without over-thinking it. I was sitting on the steps of my college reading one day and just thought, “It would be really cool to be able to do this in another language.” So I did.
Politics was always a subject at my dinner table growing up, and I was lucky enough to be raised among family and friends who all thought quite differently–conservatives, liberals, moderates, you name it. So my interest in issues like taxes and abortion started at a pretty young age. However, I don’t think I would’ve ever predicted that I’d be talking about politics as much as I do today.
I guess I never really consider myself part of the mainstream media. I tend to think of myself as a girl from Manhattan with an opinion. Sometimes I give that opinion among friends in coffeehouses, and sometimes I give it among commentators on TV. It might sound silly, but that’s really how I see it. As far as what sparked my involvement, I think the 2008 presidential election and the media’s biased coverage shook me a little. I was a teacher and high school Dean in Manhattan at the time–I chronicle some of this in my book–and remember thinking that media bias was doing an enormous disservice to voters. I also remember feeling like many people got on TV with the intent of spewing talking points, being loyal to a party or a machine, or defending something they were told to defend. I, like many viewers, wanted to see commentators who actually told you what they thought.
So, here I am.
FOH: In a word, how would you describe the current state of political discourse in this country? Could you briefly explain why you feel that word represents what politics has become in this day and age?
JB: Chaotic. I think that right now it’s very hard for a lot of people to cut through the talking points, media bias, and finger-pointing to actually find out what’s happening. Many Americans I know have given up on politicians and feel really confused and betrayed by the system and the leaders they have elected. I think that if we had a media in this country that was largely driven by a hunger for truth, rather than a commitment to propping up some politicians and destroying others, there would be much more clarity out there.
FOH: What is the focal point of your book “Outnumbered”? Out of all of the different topics discussed in the book, what is the single most important thing that you would like the reader to take away from the experience?
JB: Outnumbered sort of wrote itself. As a fan of journal writing, I pretty much wrote that book while going about my daily life, then looked at it all one day and said, “Oh wait, is this a book?” The reason I chose to publish it is because it told a real-life story–no fancy facts or research, just people living and thinking and doing and saying. Real stories, real encounters, real feelings. The focal point is looking at the Left’s version of tolerance, diversity, feminism, and civility through the lens of their very own actions. I wanted to break down the stereotypes that exist about conservatives and call upon people–Left and Right–to do some difficult self-reflection. We all need to.
What I really wanted readers to walk away with is the notion that if we are going to claim to stand for something–be it civility or tolerance or diversity or whatever–then our actions should reflect it. That includes all of us, regardless of political affiliations. I also wanted to remind people that it’s okay to take a minute and walk in someone else’s shoes, to see the world through someone else’s eyes every now and then, and to really challenge yourself and your beliefs. That doesn’t mean you abandon your principles; it means you ask yourself tough questions and really figure out who you are at every stage of life and what you value. I’ve worked in liberal academia, went to liberal Columbia University, and have lived in very liberal New York City most of my life. I arrived at my strong libertarian-conservative beliefs because I wasn’t afraid to be outnumbered or to question my beliefs from time to time. What I discovered is that yes, I stand by these ideals. Yes, I’m prepared to defend them. And yes, I have immense respect for the rights of others to disagree with me.
FOH: In your blog posted on November 12th, you wrote ” Every time I suggest better, smarter GOP outreach to young people, Hispanics, African Americans, and women, many in the GOP old guard wave their pointer fingers at me and insist that I am advocating pandering, that I am allying myself with the Left’s divide and conquer tactics.” Why do you think so many people that align themselves with the GOP old guard believe that any sort of outreach should be considered pandering? Is there anything that can be done to fix this viewpoint or is it something that you think will continue to rear its ugly head?
JB: I think that lots of folks believe that outreach equals carving the country up into special interest groups and telling each group what they want to hear in order to get elected. That’s pandering, not outreach. Outreach means taking your message of unity to African-American and Hispanic church groups, college campuses, feminist centers, performing arts centers–and talking (not lecturing) about why your message will stand up for their rights and freedoms. Outreach means choosing messengers wisely: charisma matters, and to deny that fact is absurd. Outreach means understanding the youth culture and talking to them (not at them) in forums and formats that they appreciate and relate to. It’s not about pandering; it’s about changing hearts and minds and defining conservatism and libertarianism to people who have been inculcated with media-driven lies about who we are and what we stand for.
Of course it can be fixed, but it will take time. This is not something that can happen overnight. And it will not be led by people who think the system is just fine the way it is or who don’t understand that you can modernize your approach without compromising what you believe in.
FOH: What’s next for you in 2013? Anything big in the works that we should know about?
JB: There are a lot of options on the table as I write this, and I unfortunately can’t talk about any of them just yet. Let’s just say that I have lots of decisions to make. I’m also working on a novel, and still haven’t decided if it’s something I even want to put out there. What I can promise you is that I will always be a girl from Manhattan with an opinion about pretty much everything. As far as the rest…stay tuned!
Jedediah’s Official Website: http://jedediahbila.com/
Purchase “Outnumbered” on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Outnumbered-Chronicles-Conservative-Jedediah-Bila/dp/0983576807/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1305155422&sr=8-1
Jedediah on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LikeJedediahBila
Jedediah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JedediahBila
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