Fox Business Network’s Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery talks with Opportunist’s Managing Editor Leslie Stone about her passion for politics, the ‘Brexit’ vote and her memories at MTV.
One of Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery’s first assignments for Fox Business Network was covering the 2012 presidential conventions as a special correspondent for John Stossel—an experience she fondly remembers as “exciting, eye opening and wonderfully exhausting.” “The whole time I was thinking man, I hope I get to do this again in four years,” she says.
Next month, the host of the primetime TV show “Kennedy,” which airs Monday through Thursday at 8PM/ET on FBN, will be doing just that. She’s traveling to both the Republican and Democratic national conventions to cover what she refers to as “the craziest election of our lifetime.” “I’ll be doing coverage for Fox Business and Fox News Channel’s ‘Outnumbered’ for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and part of the [GOP] coverage in Cleveland,” she says. “I’m shooting some packages for my show and getting to know the two cities and also gearing up to see how Trump changes his strategy and the execution of his speeches. It will be interesting to see what new attack lines he and Hillary come up with in the next few weeks.”
Being in the thick of things is nothing new for Kennedy, a former radio DJ and MTV VJ, who is perhaps best known as the raven-haired and bespectacled host of “Alternative Nation,” a late-night alternative video music show that aired on MTV throughout much of the 1990s. At the height of her MTV fame, she helped to popularize alternative rock bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, hung out at the MTV Beach House with Jon Stewart and served as an MTV News correspondent at some of the music industry’s biggest events, including the Grammy Awards, Video Music Awards and Woodstock.
Kennedy is also the author of two books: Hey Ladies! Tales and Tips for Curious Girls and The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age of MTV through Rose-Colored Glasses.
Opportunist: Were you always passionate about politics, Kennedy?
Kennedy: I’ve always had a passionate curiosity for how the world really works. My mom volunteered on political campaigns and my dad, God rest his soul, was one of the most politically astute analysts I’ve ever known. He had an incredible perspective on breaking things down and understanding politics and economic issues.
Opportunist: Is it true that you consider yourself a ‘Republitarian,’ since you have both Libertarian and Republican views?
Kennedy: I did when I was still registered Republican. Now I’m an Independent, unaffiliated and small-l libertarian. That’s a distinction people make so they don’t get confused with being a Libertarian Party member. Let me just say that there are some fantastic people within the Libertarian Party who are dedicated to economic, personal and global freedom, which I celebrate in all its forms.
Opportunist: As a member of the media, what did you think about Donald Trump barring Washington Post reporters from his campaign events?
Kennedy: For some reason it didn’t bother me that much. I don’t think he suffers from under-coverage. He’s not president yet, and he’s apparently within his rights to keep that particular news organization from covering his events. It’s no different than what President Obama has done with the press. That’s why you see dozens of press organizations appeal to the White House to be better about honoring deadlines. In an age where there is so much media coverage and so many news outlets, candidates are often forced to be that much more controlling.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t hold press conferences because every time she does, she says something ridiculous.
Opportunist: Do you believe her e-mail scandal is really a big deal, or was it a careless mistake on her part?
Kennedy: She very easily could have put our national security at risk. The whole thing was incompetent and about power and control. She wanted to control all of the private and public emails so they would never be subject to FOIA requests.
Opportunist: What do you think are the most important issues facing the nation during this election year?
Kennedy: I think the most critical issue is debt service. We are going to get a bill for that very soon and we won’t be able to afford it. It will weigh the economy down so much. Debt is out of control and no one meaningful is talking reform. Two people running for president are eager to spend even more money and grow the size of federal government and that puts us on a collision course with disaster.
I also think we have to redefine the tax structure in this country and certainly lower the corporate tax rate. There needs to be an environment where government gets out of the way of small business so that more businesses are created. Right now, more businesses are dying than are being formed in this country. That’s an outrage. Dodd-Frank favors big banks for snapping up community banks, but big banks don’t have relationships with small business owners.
Opportunist: Were you surprised by the outcome of the ‘Brexit’ vote?
Kennedy: No, not at all. I think the E.U. is a mess and that Great Britain was never fully committed to it. In order for the E.U. to work, you have to have full commitment. It has become a giant welfare program for struggling nations and if I were France, Italy or Germany I wouldn’t want to be supporting countries like Albania. Those countries haven’t been served by being part of the euro. Even though the E.U. is supposed to be based on a free-market economy and free trade, it certainly hasn’t helped in Spain and Greece where they have 20 to 30 percent unemployment.
It’s not like Great Britain is going to immaterialize. It’s still going to be there. It’s a valuable trade partner to the United States. It was quite amusing when our president went over there and lectured Britons on how they should vote when deciding their own destiny and fate for their own country.
Opportunist: A few weeks ago Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said ‘Brexit’ could have consequences down the road for the U.S. economy. Could she be right about that?
Kennedy: She’s not a psychic. We don’t know what’s going to happen. There may be a short-term blip but I don’t think it will translate into long-term global recession. The picture in China is much more worrisome. You cannot base trade relations and monetary policy on a bunch of what ifs. That leads to the sort of hamstring protectionism that has caused our economy to stagnate. Janet Yellen shouldn’t have a job. The Federal Reserve shouldn’t exist at all. Who needs the Fed?
We will see what happens. I predict the volatility will calm down and life will resume as normal.
Opportunist: Some have said the “Brexit” vote means Donald Trump will win the presidential election. What is your opinion on that?
Kennedy: I saw that in the Daily Mail. Trump said the U.K. should leave the E.U. if they want to leave. Does that mean he will get elected? What happened in Great Britain and what happens in the presidential election here in the states is not a direct cause and effect relationship. The ‘Brexit’ vote doesn’t say anything about the psychology of American voters. Older people wanted to get out of the E.U. and the younger ones wanted to stay. The older people have seen the consequences of losing your self-reliance.
Opportunist: Is ‘Brexit’ a prelude to more countries leaving the E.U.? Will there be a domino effect?
Kennedy: Yes, I think there will be movements in other countries. Some will use immigration as the basis, but I don’t think anyone on any side of the issue should propagandize. It should be a rational argument. Sovereign countries make up the E.U., and it’s up to their own citizens to vote whether to get out.
Opportunist: After the mass shooting in Orlando a few weeks ago, the issue of gun control is at the forefront again. House Democrats ended their sit-in last week, but they plan to start back up when Congress reconvenes on July 5. What are your thoughts on that?
Kennedy: I think people who talk about assault weapons and semi-automatic weapons have no idea what they’re talking about. They should spend a day at the gun range to learn the basics of gun mechanics. Self-protection is a God-given, constitutionally protected right. They’re tackling the wrong issue from the wrong angle. Making more things illegal doesn’t do anything to stop motivating people who are happy to take dozens or hundreds of lives—and it compromises innocent civilians who want to protect themselves.
Opportunist: Can you share a few highlights from your time at MTV?
Kennedy: One of the funniest things was the emergence of the Internet. It was so new and so strange, and the only way to really get online was AOL. Everyone had an AOL account. [Laughs] I will never forget staying up until the sun came up with Chris Hardwick at the MTV Beach House in 1993 and going into chatrooms with our goofy screen names. Chris Hardwick has become a cultural phenomenon. So many bands came through the MTV studio on any given day. One day I was going to interview Paul Westerberg from The Replacements, so we sat down and we were about to get mic’d up when he said, ‘Hold on … I need to go to the store and get some cigarettes.’ That was the last time I ever saw Paul Westerberg. [Laughs] We never did the interview.
Opportunist: Was there anyone who inspired your career along the way?
Kennedy: Once I started working in radio I was most inspired by Howard Stern and the way he created his own paradigm and didn’t back down. There were a few things he said and did that left such an impression on me. He was funny and honest and self-deprecating in a way that I had never experienced as an aspiring broadcaster. He had just gotten to Los Angeles and promised to take over the market, but there were a lot of people within radio who thought he was such an East Coaster and a one-trick pony that he would never fly in a town where people spend the bulk of the day in their cars. But his show was authentic, funny and passionate—things people didn’t know a radio show was capable of being—and he triumphed.
Opportunist: Were you really the muse for the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1995 hit single ‘Name?’
Kennedy: Yes, that is true. I interviewed John Rzeznik in the book [The Kennedy Chronicles: The Golden Age of MTV through Rose-Colored Glasses] and he admitted it. It was their only song ever written about a moment, and it was their first hit. We were kind of crazy about each other but he was married, so I pulled away when he kissed me.
Opportunist: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Kennedy: Rocking and rolling [Laughs] and having fun passionately exploring all of the ideas and events that make me profoundly happy—especially those with my family. Two things that I’ve loved have remained consistent: music and politics. That goes all the way back to high school. [TV host] Mike Rowe says, ‘Don’t follow your passion.’ It’s true that you’re not entitled to work in your field of passion, but the hardest work you’ll ever do is finding a job you love—and it’s the most worthy pursuit.
Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer, editor and journalist with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides between Florida and Michigan. Follow Leslie on Twitter: @lescstone.