INSIDER INTERVIEW: Jenna Lee Reveals the Best Thing About Marrying a Navy SEAL
Ahead of her wedding next weekend, Happening Now anchor Jenna Lee talked to the Insider about how she met her fiancé Leif Babin, a Navy SEAL, how his career impacts her role as a journalist and what she wants America to know about being part of the Navy SEAL family.
Insider: How did you and your fiancé meet?
Jenna: We met at the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund Dinner. I was invited by Roger Ailes. Many of us were there representing for Fox ... Jon Scott, Eric Bolling, Megyn Kelly. At the time, I was getting up at 2am to host Fox Business Morning on the Fox Business Network. The dinner was at 7pm which could have been midnight for me and I was really like, “I don’t know if I should go to this thing.”
I was sitting at a table with a family whose son was a fallen SEAL who was being honored and Leif came over later. He had a seat at the table but he was late, which is something he is working on. He was a very handsome guy, he looked great in his uniform and the first thing I thought was, “Oh what a handsome guy ... not my type.”
He was from Texas, he’s in the military ... it was just sort of one of those things. So I sat at the table and we were kind of across from each other and were chatting a lot about the military because I was very curious about how everything works. We report on it so much but I didn’t understand how many guys are in a platoon, how exactly deployments work, so I was kind of grilling him on some of that stuff. I left the event early and because he was talking to Jon so much I said to him, “If you want to come by and see Jon’s show, I do a couple of reports for the show and I’ll show you and your buddies around.” He ended up doing that and we kept in touch but it was months and months before there was anything.
Insider: Did he tell you he came to the show for you?
Jenna: (Laughing) Totally! Although he said, “You were really trying to pick me up,” and I was like, “I really wasn’t”. In fact, I was trying to leave because I had to wake up and it was 9:30pm. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the show the next day because it was really late. I genuinely was not trying to pick him up but he’ll never buy that story!
Insider: What is it like to be with a Navy SEAL? What has it taught you?
Jenna: It’s interesting, especially with the news in this field, when you’re a part of their family because you really don’t know anything they’re doing. I can confidently say that I have never heard any details about anything he is doing. It is one of the hardest things because when they are deployed and you say, “Hey - how was your day?” - it’s either “good” or “bad”, there’s not much else. It’s either busy or not. You have no concept of what exactly they are dealing with. I give him a lot of credit for that because I‘m sure there were some very tough days.
Of course, it also ended up making me a better journalist. I would have no idea about so many parts of the military, from going through a deployment with someone to knowing how they’re set up, how they’re organized to actually seeing the SEAL team and knowing a little bit about it is hugely helpful, especially with some of the news that’s been happening. I’ll say, “Okay, they’re talking about withdrawing X amount of troops - what do you think about that?” You have someone who has been in the battlefield and knows!
Insider: So there are great parts of having your fiancé in the military, but there must be some tough parts too, including deployment. How many times has your fiancé been deployed?
Jenna: Since we’ve been together, only once. But, he’s been through three deployments to Iraq and before that he was on a fleet and deployed three or four times with his fleet. He’s constantly on the road. It’s just really, really hard. I can’t say enough about the military families that deal with this on a regular basis. They’re a special group of people. Still, to this day, if we watch the troops come home, I can’t watch it, I can’t narrate it. I just get too emotional. It’s so close to me still.
Insider: The Navy SEALs were obviously in the headlines recently for taking down Usama bin Laden. How did you feel when you heard the news?
Jenna: I just was thinking about all of the families because they probably knew they were doing something dangerous in the weeks that they were there. Those teams are always doing something, but they have no way of really knowing what their sons or boyfriends or husbands do. One of the things I really learned is that the people who have really done something don’t talk about it! I can imagine a great sense of relief for the families knowing that no one was hurt but also that this great weight was lifted.
Insider: How did your connection to the SEALs impact how you reported the story?
Jenna: I think that I reported on it differently in that I was particularly sensitive to some of the information coming out. I’d known enough about some of the way that protocol is dealt with that I knew to not go by reports because the information was coming in all at once. I had to be really discerning. The major points were definitely reported on correctly and if something was questionable, I didn’t go with it.
Insider: Going forward when stories and news events come up involving the SEALs, how do you balance your emotions and personal involvement with your role as a journalist?
Jenna: It’s not too difficult because I don’t know much about what Leif has done specifically.
Insider: Can he ever tell you about his time as a SEAL?
Jenna: I don’t think he’ll ever talk about it. I also think there is a sense of pride within the guys that what they did is amongst them. When Navy SEAL stories come up, I look at them really skeptically to be honest. There’s such a sensational part of it that I think we have to be particularly careful about giving credit where credit is due and not perpetuating something that is inaccurate or Hollywood-driven.
Insider: What would you want America to know about being a part of a Navy SEAL family?
Jenna: That they are so honorable and they are so courageous and they are unwavering in how they feel about the country. It’s one of the things that really attracted me to Leif because if there’s one thing he is sure about, it’s that he is willing to die for the country. That type of integrity, you just don’t find. I would say that that’s the thing everyone needs to know - they really are as good as you think they are, they really are.
Insider: What advice would you give to women who are getting involved with someone in the military?
Jenna: You have to be so patient to know that that they are called to something bigger and, you know, I think that’s indicative of a lot of relationships. When you are in a relationship and someone is called to something, a service or something bigger, you can’t compete with that, you shouldn’t compete with that and you shouldn’t ask someone to choose between you and that. It’s the one thing I feel I have a grasp on right now. We’ll see how it is in the coming years but, you know, they’ll always have that calling so you’re best to be supportive of that.
Insider: Does your fiancé watch Fox News?
Jenna: Yeah, he does. That was fun too because sometimes during his deployment, he could still see me. The internet has also been great for these deployments and such.
You know what? In some funny ways when he first met me and I was getting up in the middle of the night and I’d done all of this crazy stuff, I didn’t have to explain that to him which is helpful. He understands if I have to get up and go, he’s not going to stand in my way.
Insider: Has he taught you any “tricks of the trade”?
Jenna: Before he left for deployment, I couldn’t do a pull-up, so he taught me and now I can bang out a couple of them. That was good, that was my goal. My goal was to do pull-ups and push-ups the right way, so those are things that he’s taught me. He has yet to teach me any combat skills!
Catch Jenna Lee on Happening Now -- weekdays at 11a ET on the Fox News Channel. And, get more dish from Jenna on the plans for her big day.
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