Jesse Ventura Watch
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A fascinating, insider's look at what drives America's most celebrity- hungry politician.

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Jesse 'n Vince

Ventura had sex



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After the Fall:
Jesse's Post 9/11 Meltdown and Beyond

Jesse's legacy? It's always the other guy's fault.

The brand takes a hit, as plans for a musical based on Jesse's life are scrapped.

Maybe it only looked as if Jesse were having fun.

Jesse decides to walk, not run. Once-ardent supporters say good riddance and a Twin Cities jackal writes that "by not running, not losing, he chiefly protects the franchise, Jesse, the one-man show."

Barking Head? Eric Alterman thinks that all of the cable news networks will "salivate at the thought" of hiring Jesse: "His opinions are kind of wishy-washy for a national cable audience, but he's got street cred because -- it's ridiculous -- he's an ex-professional wrestler and a critic of the media."

Media has treated Jesse "like someone's daft uncle."

Another jackal says he believes that Jesse's tendency to lash out at the media is the flaw of a person who has trouble taking responsibility for his mistakes. So "whenever he gets in a corner, it's the media's fault."

A Los Angeles Times analysis of Jesse's impact and exit overstates the media coverage of his family, inaccurately characterizing it as "relentless." And like hundreds of other articles, it mistakenly refers to the one-time frogman as a "former Navy SEAL," a myth that Jesse has aggressively perpetuated.

Both Minneapolitans and St. Paulites think it's time for Jesse to go.

Jesse's "on the ropes" and "nearly impossible to avoid" when there's a network camera rolling.

Time has 10 questions for Jesse.

New book delves into Jesse's philosophy.

Jesse ran up big expense tab for defunct XFL, got WWF stock as part of compensation.

Is Jesse delaying official candidacy announcement to milk radio gig for as long as possible?

Jesse vetoes dollars for public TV in Minnesota, personally favors commercial broadcasting and a national audience.

Jesse approval slide hits national wires.

Irreleventura Jesse nominated as most irrelevant talking head since 9/11.

Has Jesse evolved himself out of office?

Jesse: tax increase opponents are unpatriotic.

Pioneer Press special report: aka Jesse Ventura

Paper gives Jesse free ride on bogus SEAL claims.

Jesse tells Larry King that he's "leaning towards running again."

Jesse tells CNN's Paula Zahn why he isn't worried about sinking poll numbers: "They come and change with the breeze."

A Twin Cities radio station trashes Jesse in a full-page newspaper ad.

Jesse inspires first annual "Hunted Man" awards!

Jesse barks at media, but fails to disclose that it was his staff that contacted "Good Morning America" before his trip to NYC's ground zero.

Jesse goes to Washington and works Bud Selig "high and tight."

A Star Tribune poll finds Jesse reaching new highs (disapproval) and new lows (approval).

The New York Times asks: Senator Jesse?

In a new poll, 21 percent of respondents say "poor" Jesse.

What's behind Jesse's latest spouting and pouting about the media?

Jesse advises constituents to boycott TV and newspapers and get their news from talk radio.

Garrison Keillor: For the Garbo of governors, the Pynchon of politicians, disappearance is a great way to attract attention.

Memo to Voters: "Eject this preening cockatiel from office at the next election."

Jesse's trip to "ground zero" opens new rift with media.

The Bunk

Jesse's Dangerous Game

In a Cursor exclusive, ex-Navy SEAL commander Bill Salisbury investigates Governor Jesse Ventura's claim that he "hunted man" in Vietnam as part of his military service (see below). Salisbury's findings cast doubt on Ventura's assertion that he engaged the enemy in combat, and raise the possibility that Ventura never went ashore in Vietnam.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on Salisbury's investigation and readers respond.

KMSP-TV follows Cursor's story with a report on Ventura's military record. It finds no Combat Action Ribbon on his discharge document.

Combat Action Ribbon Eligibility Requirements

View the document.

Read the transcript of an interview with Bill Salisbury

The paper SEAL talks to Bill O'Reilly about real SEAL Bob Kerrey.

Read the "Hunting Man" Interview

Jesse defends his credentials for setting state conservation policy in this confrontational interview with a Star Tribune's outdoors columnist who had criticized him: "Until you hunted man, you haven't hunted yet. Because you need to hunt something that can shoot back at you to really classify yourself as a hunter. You need to understand the feeling of what it's like to go into the field and know that your opposition can take you out. Not just go out there and shoot Bambi."

Jesse Hands Political Opponents an Issue

Editorial Cartoon: Jesse the Head Hunter

"Tell Jesse to Put Up or Shut Up"

One week after the "hunting man" interview, a Vietnam Army veteran says Minnesotans should tell Jesse Ventura to put up or shut up: "The people who had the most intense combat experience seldom talk about it at all in public. They virtually never flaunt it as the governor does. If he wants to trade on his Navy record, he should release his DD Form 214 and make a statement of the specific places and dates of his overseas service. If the governor is unwilling to make even such a bare-bones disclosure of his experience, he should shut up about it."

Was Jesse a real SEAL?

Ex-Navy SEAL Bill Salisbury investigates Jesse's military service and concludes that he served as a member of an Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) in Vietnam and not as an elite SEAL. Salisbury on the difference between SEALs and UDTs: "SEALs in platoons of 12 to 14 men went looking for the VC and NVA in the swamps, paddies, and jungles of Vietnam; UDTs mainly floated around the South China Sea on ships with Marine battalion landing teams as part of what's called an amphibious ready group or ARG."

Salisbury Takes on Celebrity SEALs

Jesse: Navy SEAL Since 1983

The Governor's office confirms that Ventura was a UDT member and not a Navy SEAL, but argues that because the two entities merged under the SEAL banner in 1983, UDT's can now refer to themselves as SEALs. However, spokesman John Wodele said Ventura "is very forthcoming and accurate in terms of his relationship with the U.S. Navy. He talks about the fact that he was in the Underwater Demolition Team. In fact, he has corrected me in the past." Cursor's examination of print interviews and broadcast transcripts finds that Ventura consistently refers to himself as a Navy SEAL, seldom explaining the distinction between SEAL and UDT

The Bully

Jesse's Worst Enemy

Gary Wills' profile is a must read for anyone wanting insight into what makes the short-fused, governor/entertainer tick...tick...tick. "Jesse's big enemy is not the government or the press or the cashers-in on his fame. It is the demon of paranoid suspicion and conspiratorial distrust that lurks in him. Jesse's real enemy is Jesse."

Body Slammed From the Right

Writing in the National Review, and comparing Jesse to the "Lonesome Rhodes" character in Elia Kazan's film, A Face in the Crowd, Jonah Goldberg exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of the message: "Ventura denounces the media for valuing sensationalism over substance. He assails their tendency to "portray every story as a battle." He inveighs against the "spin doctors," and condemns politicians who put their own interests above those of their constituents. In short, he stands foursquare against every trend in American politics that made his political career possible in the first place and sustains it today."

Jesse's Media Half-Nelson

A darling of the national media, Ventura prefers to play out his battles on a smaller stage, where he can mix it up with local reporters without harming his national reputation. A veteran "jackal" tells Howard Kurtz: "It's very much in the governor's interest to be perceived as being at war with the media."

Ventura Highway

A long-time political reporter examines the record to determine if Jesse's my-way-or-the-highway approach to the media has led to softball coverage.

Jesse-vs-the media, in ten words or fewer.

Jesse Turns the Tables

"The SEAL in me doesn't get mad, he gets even. So I've put together a sort of fantasy media conference - a press conference in reverse, if you will. I've invited all the journalists I know who have a reputation for sleazy reporting. I won't name names; I'll leave it up to you to find out who they are. This time, I get to ask the questions."

The Brand

Jesse's Ka-Ching

Since becoming governor, this "one-man conglomerate of private money-making ventures," has earned an estimated $1.5 to $3 million in outside income from two books, a one-night appearance as a wrestling referee and a series of 12 television broadcasts as an XFL commentator. He has also has sold the rights to his life story for a musical comedy.

Jesse Protects the Brand

Jesse the Moonlighter

Jesse's thirst for the celebrity spotlight has also left him open to criticism from other public officials and constituents. In this CNN report on the controversy surrounding Ventura's efforts to balance work and pay, critics react: "Here is a governor who is using his position as governor to become a celebrity. And not only a celebrity, but to make a significant amount of money on the side."

Jesse's Handlers

From a talent agency located on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, and a law office in downtown Minneapolis, two men orchestrate the private career of this most public official. "When Ventura won the election in November 1998 and saw his celebrity value skyrocket, he made it clear he would be open for business."

Celebrity Set-Up

A Carleton College Political Science professor on Ventura's dual career path: "We usually understand governor to be a fulltime job. However, Jesse uses it as one of two jobs. I think Jesse really understands that, as governor, he has a unique opportunity to set himself up for life. Serve a term, make significant amounts of money beyond the official salary during that term, and create a celebrity profile that will carry him in to several strong, income-producing years after he is governor."

Shadowing Jesse

Twin Cities' TV stations have been following Jesse around the country and the world since he was elected governor in 1998, covering his every word, regardless of the cost. "What the governor is getting is dream coverage for a politician selling himself as a larger-than-life piece of living theater. What elected official doesn't fantasize about contriving an image so mediagenic it sustains precisely the kind of obsessive attention required to fortify his popularity?"

Jesse the Commentator

Shortly before an XFL game became the lowest-rated show in prime-time history, founder Vince McMahon said the leagues biggest mistake was its selection of announcers. "Our research shows people don't like him [Ventura] on the XFL. He's too over the top. Hyperbole turns people off. They know when you're not telling the truth. We need football announcers, not WWF announcers."

Jesse Rides a Loser

A veteran Jesse-watcher says the XFL fiasco undermines a fundamental aspect of Ventura's positioning effort: "What's amusing to us here, is that the governor's shtick in both politics and show biz is heavily based on the "infallibility factor": the pretense that he never rides a loser and is never wrong."


The Politainer

Jesse the Politainer

Bolstering the Brand

Jesse Talks the Talk

Jesse Loses a Gig

Charting Jesse

What Price Celebrity?

Sorry, George!

Jesse on Broadway

Jesse at the Opera

Toy Governor

Toy Governor

Electing a Pseudonym

The Ironic Public Servant

Jesse, Inc.

Jesse -vs- Keillor

Orrin Hatch -vs- Jesse

Battling SEALS

Body Double

Body Double

Jesse's "38 DD" Problem

Being Jesse Ventura

Imagining Jesse

Jesse & The Donald

Jesse & Judge Judy

Jesse the Campaigner

Jesse The Rocker

Jesse the Rocker (Downloadable!)

Jesse-Free Zone

Am I Annoying?

Free Advice for Jesse Ventura


Aaron Brown

Larry King

Larry King

Wolf Blitzer

Checks & Balances
2/8/01 (audio)

Business Week



The Advocate


Jesse Speaks
National Press Club

Editorial Cartoons

What's Behind Jesse's Mirror-Hungry Personality?