Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Manhattan's outspoken conservative: An interview with Jedediah Bila
OHATCHEE, Al. May 30, 2011 — I first heard about Jedediah Bila when a guy I'm acquainted with "Liked" her on Facebook - for good reason, too. Besides being gorgeous, the conservative writer and former teacher from an Italian family in Brooklyn is gaining a reputation as an effective political commentator.
Very well-spoken, she articulates ideas without missing a beat, which should catch the interest of aspiring pundits across all spectrums. Mark Levin described her as "a rising, fresh star" on his radio program.
Somewhat parallel to Sarah Palin, Bila is a female conservative who seemed to "pop up out of nowhere" and appear on the national news scene quickly. She is a regular commentator on various shows at Fox News and Fox Business, and is sometimes a guest at MSNBC and talk radio. Bila recently released her first book, Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative.
Who is that girl with the one-of-a-kind name, and why is she so successful? Bila told me a little about herself via e-mail:
AMANDA READ: It appears that you went from being a private school teacher to becoming a popular political commentator pretty fast! Tell me a little about this transition in your life.
JEDEDIAH BILA: I began writing political commentary in 2009. Although writing has always been a passion of mine, I was often immersed in academic and creative writing. The 2008 presidential election really changed that for me.
After witnessing an astounding amount of media bias and an abundance of distortions with respect to conservative politicians and their records, I felt driven to speak my mind.
So, I transferred some of my focus to the political arena. I also really wanted to speak to our youth, as so many of them had been drawn in by Barack Obama’s “hope,” “change,” and “yes we can.”
I wanted to remind them that it is conservatism—not liberalism—that is their ally. Conservatives seek to preserve their liberty, their choices, and their opportunity to reach great heights. Radio and television found me soon after my columns were published, and it has truly been a wonderful and exciting journey.
I think your little Maltese, Emma, is becoming popular as well. Does she ever accompany you on business trips?
Like I always say, Emma is the star. I’m just the sidekick! She actually came with me in November of 2009 when I covered Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue book signing in Rochester, New York. She spent most of the night wrapped in a blanket in my shoulder bag while I interviewed people who were camped out to see Sarah that morning.
Emma has been on some other political adventures as well. And when I don’t take her, I miss her like crazy!
You graduated Valedictorian of Wagner College and earned a Master of Arts from Columbia University. What did you major in?
I have a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Business. My M.A. is in Spanish, and my coursework consisted mostly of literature classes that were taught in Spanish or English translation.
Do you think you use your major in your current occupation often?
I don’t, to be honest. And I often yell at myself for not keeping up with my Spanish as I should. I actually chose my major because of my love for literature. I was reading a novel and working on a paper in college one day and thought, “It would be really cool to be able to do all of this in another language.” And so I did.
The challenge of writing my college thesis and dozens of papers in Spanish is something I will always treasure. And every now and then, I wake up and start speaking in Spanish without realizing it, which is pretty cool.
Did you have any memorable run-ins with the liberal establishment in college?
I remember one night during graduate school when I was enjoying a soup and salad—and an oversized chocolate chip cookie, of course—at my favorite bakery café on the Upper West Side. I was reading a favorable column about Ronald Reagan. A student nearby noticed it and began carrying on. Before I had finished my cookie—which was delightful, as I recall—she was sweating and shouting. I don’t think I even said a word. Nothing like a good left-wing self-induced tizzy to keep me entertained.
What subjects did you teach when you were a teacher?
I’ve taught students from ages four to twenty-three. I’ve taught acting classes to young kids, as well as Spanish classes ranging from beginner language courses to literature courses.
What do you remember about the first TV appearance you made?
My first TV appearance was on Sean Hannity’s “Great American Panel” in March of 2010. I remember feeling at home from the start. I couldn’t believe that Sean Hannity was actually as nice as he seemed on TV and radio. I also remember thinking that the makeup artists were real-life magicians.
You keep columns for Human Events, The Daily Caller and AMAC. How do you decide which topics to cover for each publication?
All of the topics I write about come straight from the heart. There have only been two columns I can recall that editors actually asked me to write. When I find myself drawn to something happening in the news, I sit down and explore it through my writing. And if nothing catches my eye, I wait until something does.
With the exception of my “Q & A” columns—which are exclusive to AMAC—I don’t really write with a publication in mind.
Do you get a chance to read the comments on your columns?
I try to scan the comments on my columns. I make it a point to read all of my emails and do my best to answer as many of them as I can. I am very inspired by my grassroots supporters and feel honored to get to interact with them as much as possible.
A few months ago S.E. Cupp revealed some of the vicious hate mail she's received. Do you experience this too?
Yes, I get my fair share of what I call “love notes.” They are typically filled with misspelled words and curses, which really up the entertainment value as far as I’m concerned.
You have a pretty and distinctive name. Did your parents get your first name from the Bible? (I know it's Hebrew for "Beloved of the LORD", though spelled a little differently as a man's name; 2 Samuel 12:25.)
My mom was a drama director for years and has always loved unique names. She decided that I was going to be Jedediah whether I was a boy or a girl. The name actually first caught her eye in a television series, but the biblical meaning was important to her as well.
Is writing a skill that has always come naturally to you, or was it ever something you struggled with in school?
Writing is something that has always been a part of me and always seemed to flow from my pen pretty quickly. Poetry, journals, short stories, columns—I’ve always loved them all.
I was the Literary Editor of my high school yearbook and contributed poetry to my college’s literary arts magazine. I used to breathe a sigh of relief when my teachers would opt for essay tests and loved the fact that most of my work in college involved writing papers.
I’ve discovered so much of myself and so much of the world through writing, and it’s something that will be a very big part of me no matter what the future holds.
I love the antique design of your website. You've said that you like handwritten letters and personal journaling - are there any special writing materials that you use?
I don’t use anything fancy. Give me a plain old pencil and a small journal and I’m happy. I’m not a technology girl at heart. I love turning the pages of a book—the more weathered they are, the better. I love the musty smell of old libraries and antique bookstores.
And although I spend much of my time answering emails and writing my columns on my laptop, my heart rests with handwritten letters and probably always will.
What advice do you have for young people interested in entering the field of political commentary - particularly young women?
My advice is to never stop being you. Don’t try to fit in with who you’re “supposed to be” or what you’re “supposed to say” or how you’re “supposed to say it.” Your voice is special because it is yours and yours alone.
Also, I’d advise them to always speak from the heart. Be honest about what you stand for. Call it like you see it. Stand up for your principles. At the end of the day, you’ll go to bed knowing that you were true to who you are. And, in my opinion, that’s absolutely priceless.
Do you have any future books planned yet?
I don’t have anything planned just yet, but Outnumbered marks one of many exciting adventures to come.
Jedediah Bila is author of the new book, Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. She is a conservative columnist who contributes toThe Daily Caller, Human Events, and the Association of Mature American Citizens’ newsletter. She is a regular commentator on Fox News and Fox Business, including such programs as Hannity, Fox & Friends, Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, Varney & Co., and America’s Nightly Scoreboard, among others. She has also been a guest on MSNBC and talk radio. For more information on Jedediah, please visit www.jedediahbila.com.
To see some of her TV appearances, check outhttp://www.youtube.com/jedediahbila.
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 17 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.comand is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/SincerelyAmanda and Facebook atwww.facebook.com/AmandaChristineRead.