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Conference Call with Bachelor Ben

Even though we're only at the beginning of Desiree Hartsock's quest for love on this season of "The Bachelorette," one guy is emerging as both a frontrunner and the main source of conflict in the house.

Bachelor Ben participated in a conference call Thursday to address his status on the show and his relationships with Desiree and the other guys. He came across pretty genuine and his intentions seem legit, but even after talking to him, I'm still on the fence about his overall likability.

He addressed the confrontation with Michael by calling it unfortunate and that his actions probably came across in a way that he didn't intend. He resented a bit the comment that he's a politician, because he says what he means and doesn't try and cater to anyone. He also addressed the decision to bring his son by saying it was a risk that could've gone two ways. Either Desiree would love that he was a dad (and come on, little Brody is adorable) or Ben would know she's not interested in being a stepmom. She went with the former.

He also talked about his relationship with Brody's mom, and the comments he made during the premiere about having a son with his best friend. It led people to speculate about the circumstances of them having a child. He clarified that the mother was his girlfriend in college, and they had a son and tried to make things work. But in the end, they decided it was in Brody's best interest to have separated parents who were both happy than two staying together just for him. Then, they ended up becoming best friends and are closer than ever, and she gave her blessing to Brody appearing on the show. It's not ideal, he said, but it's been working out great.

He made it quite clear that he doesn't concern himself much with what the other guys think of him, because everyone will have their own opinion, but I asked him if he cared what America thought of him? Some of his actions can be taken in multiple ways, i.e. was bringing his son adorable? Or manipulative? Is he confident? Or smug and arrogant?

He responded by saying that he went on the show to find love and to find out if Desiree was the woman he was going to spend the rest of his life with, and that doing certain things with Des in mind could come back to bite him. But the only people he is really concerned about outside the show are his family members. As long as he is being himself and doing things that his mother would be okay with him doing on TV, the rest of America can have their own opinions. He truly only cares about his family, because what he does could affect them too.

I also asked if he would remain on America's fence as the season wore on, or if a greater majority would start to think of him on one side or the other, and he said we'll just have to watch and see.

And watch and see we shall. 

Here is the full transcript of the conference call with Ben! My questions are in red.

(Andrea Reiher):   Hi Ben.

Ben:                       Hi.

(Andrea Reiher):   Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Ben:                       Thanks for calling in.

(Andrea Reiher):   Well, we’ve seen in the previews for next week that you and Des seem to go off for a little impromptu one on one time.  What can you tell us about that?  How did you pull that off?

Ben:                       I think that’s something you’re going to have to watch and see.  It’s something that’s pretty startling and we both truly enjoyed it and I think that’s something you’re going to have to watch and see.

(Andrea Reiher):   And what can you tell us a little bit about Michael G.?  He seems to really have it out for you.

Ben:                       Well Michael is wearing his heart on his sleeve.  He’s a great guy and what happened between us was unfortunate timing and you saw that when he had an issue with what happened he confronted me.  He’s not afraid to confront somebody when he has any type of issues, so unfortunately that’s what happened between us and I think you’re going to see that some things like this may continue to happen.

(Andrea Reiher):   Great.  Thank you.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from (Gina Scarpa) from RealityWanted.com.

(Gina Scarpa):      Hey Ben.

Ben:                       Hey, how are you?

(Gina Scarpa):      I’m good thanks.  I was wondering what you thought about the comment this past week that you’re a politician, always searching for the right answer or saying what people want to hear, or maybe that you couldn’t be trusted.  What did you think about that assessment of your personality?

Ben:                       You know I think that’s an incorrect assessment of me.  I say what I mean, I’m not trying to say the exact right thing or say something that I think somebody’s going to want to hear, or do something I think somebody’s exactly going to want me to do.  As you saw, I did something that unfortunately hurt somebody’s feelings and I felt very bad about that but it’s something in the moment I felt was the right thing for me to do at the time, so I do not believe the assessment of me being a politician is actually a correct one for me at all.

(Gina Scarpa):      And you know obviously Des is a bachelorette because she’s looking for love and she wants to find a husband but, was there any part of you that was worried that maybe she wasn’t ready to be a mother or step-mother right away to someone or did you have a feeling that she would be the kind of person that would welcome a child into her life?

Ben:                       That’s a good question.  The main reason I brought my son was to see how Des reacted once she knew that I was a father and she saw my son in person.  It actually had to go two ways.  1)  She’s going to love the fact that I’m a father and that I’m so proud of my son, or it’s going to show me that she is not ready to jump into that type of relationship where she has to step in and become a mother figure to somebody.  So, that’s one of the main reasons I brought my son, to see if she’s ready for that and as you all can tell (inaudible) in the fact that I already have a son and that you know, I have part of my family that’s already there so she was totally OK with that and it made me extremely happy and I think that’s one of the reasons our relationship began to grow so fast.

(Gina Scarpa):      That’s a good answer.  Thank you so much.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from Jennifer Peros from Us Weekly.

Jennifer Peros:     Hi Ben, thanks for joining us today.  Just to follow up with that last question, I mean I feel like after you had brought your son out, he’s absolutely adorable by the way, you caught some kind of criticism from the other guys in the house.  So, have you gotten any heat from bring him on the show, from like outside parties as well?

Ben:                       You know, everybody’s going to have their own opinion on why they believe I brought my son.  I know exactly why I brought him and as I said before, it was a big risk because it could have gone two ways.  Desiree could have loved it or she could have decided that I’m not ready for the situation that this guy’s in right now with already having a kid.  But, it never once occurred to me what is everybody else going to think.  It just occurred to me how is this going to (inaudible) Desiree and then also is my son’s mother going to be OK with this.  So, of course I conferred with her before any of this happened and she was OK with everything that happened on the show and in the end it really didn’t matter to me what everybody else thought.  It just mattered how this is going to affect me and Des.

Jennifer Peros:     Great.  And then I feel like you started to be portrayed as kind of like the villain on this season.  Do you feel like unfairly targeted at all?

Ben:                       You know, that’s for each and every person to decide on their own, but I think I did come in with the idea that I’m here (inaudible), let’s find out if Desiree is the woman that I’m going to marry and that approach may not have been the way that some of the other guys had initially come in and I focus all my attention on trying to grow the relationship that Des and I have.  Some of the guys saw that and we saw some of their reactions.

Jennifer Peros:     Yes, we definitely did.  Thank you so much.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from (Beth Kwiatkowski) from Realty TV World.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Hi Ben, how are you?

Ben:                       Good, how are you Beth?

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Good.  So you told Des during the premier episode that you had your son, Brody, with a friend which is kind of an unusual decision to make in your early twenties.  Would you mind talking about that a little bit, like was it something you did intentionally and if so, how did you come to that decision?

Ben:                       I think that’s one of the statements that I made on the show that has probably had the most I guess controversy about it.  How it came off is not exactly how it was meant to be.  My son’s mother was actually my college girlfriend and we had Brody and we tried to make things work and in the end we really just sat down and talked and said what’s best for our situation? 

                              We don’t want to get married just to get married because we have a kid.  We want to get married because we’re in love.  In the end we decided that that’s not where we were in our lives.  So we thought it was better for Brody to have two parents who are very happy who aren’t together than to have two parents that are together and are very unhappy because we had both seen that in our earlier childhoods and we didn’t want that for our son. 

                              We saw it with grandparents, but you know it’s really just been the best situation Brody can ask for with what we’re going through.  Me and Stevie, which is my son’s mother, we turned into best friends and we’ve kept a very good relationship.  He is very happy.  He knows he’s very loved.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a happier kid, it’s not the ideal situation, but it’s definitely working out great, so she is really one of my best friends and that’s what that comment meant was that even though we decided not to be together we will remain best friends.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    OK, awesome.  At the cocktail reception during Monday night’s episode there was a group of guys which included Brandon, Mikey and Michael G. that were talking amongst themselves about how you brought up the bar you owned and mentioned something about how previous backelors would have owned a bar and ended up turning it into five bars after appearing on the show.  They kind of suggested you talked a lot more about your company than about your son.  I just want to get your response to that and I guess, did you realize you were giving off that impression?

Ben:                       That comment actually surprised me, or that conversation.  I mean, we all knew what everybody did.  We all knew what everybody’s business were.  And they knew what mine was and sometimes I wonder if the fact of being a business owner makes you have a target on your back that are you doing this for the wrong reasons.  I talked about my son all the time, but I talked about it with my group of friends and there were some people I didn’t talk to more than others and some of those people I didn’t talk to too much may have been in that group making that conversation, but I talked about my son all the time.  I missed him a lot, from day one I missed him.  He’s everything, so that comment did catch me a little off guard, but some people may decide to make judgments without really trying to know somebody.  That conversation doesn’t really bother me because I knew the reason I was there and I was there for Des and they knew that.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    OK great.  Thanks Ben.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from (Carrie Bell) from People Magazine.

(Carrie Bell):          Good morning.  I guess that I want you to expound on that a little bit because when I was watching that episode last night and usually we don’t tell people until much farther in to the process and they’ve been eliminated and they understand whatever happened, but you have the rare opportunity to actually watch and episode and react to it immediately, so that conversation, a lot of shit got tossed about you and how was it watching that on TV because you obviously weren’t privy to that while it was happening.

Ben:                       You know, going into this you realize you’re going to hear some things that you may not have expected and that’s one of the things about being on the show is you don’t know what’s happening with the other guys when they’re not around you, you don’t know what they’re saying, you don’t know what they’re doing, you don’t know about their time with Des.  I’ve gone into this process with the understanding that some things may be said and I may see things that I may not like and then I see things that really surprise me and I do know I respect the guys for doing what they did and I’m not going into this worried about what other people said, how do I appear, I was exactly who I was and although some things didn’t happen the ideal way that I would want them to, I don’t have any regrets.  It was a great experience and you know I don’t have anything against any of the guys.  They have their own opinions and the right to those opinions.

(Carrie Bell):          The other thing I wanted to ask is you kind of had this whole thing with Des about, oh, it’s out secret, I’m the first one who knows how good of a kisser you are, blah, blah, blah, but apparently you’re not which I would imagine you also saw on the episode.

Ben:                       Sure.  I mean, there’s one thing about me.  I didn’t ask a lot of questions about how the other guys dates went.  You know, it’s just not something that I really wanted to hear, you know, how a date would go with somebody that I like.  So, question you know, had Bill tried to kiss her?  Nothing was more that the guys don’t understand was that I know you’re a good kisser.  Basically saying that nobody knows about that, that’s kind of our secret.  I am pretty private with my relationships.  Even though we’re on a TV show that the nation is going to see, you don’t necessarily want the guys that are still around here in that moment knowing anything about what you’re doing with her, so you know I enjoyed in a setting that’s so public having things that are private between us and it’s got some romance to it and it has excitement to it.

(Carrie Bell):          OK.  I guess the important thing is you got in there anyway.

Ben:                       I’m sorry.

(Carrie Bell):          I said that the important thing is you got in there at some point anyway.

Ben:                       Yea and Des is an amazing kisser.

(Carrie Bell):          All right, thank you.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from Catrina Whiteman from Digital Spy.

Catrina Whiteman:      Hi Ben.  It’s great to speak to you today.  I wanted to ask you, do you think that any of the tension with guys, do you think that any of it was caused by the fact that you got the first rose on the first night?  Was there a bit of jealousy there do you think?

Ben:                       I’ve had that question asked of me by friends and family and that’s something I don’t know because I don’t know exactly why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling.  It was unfortunate the timing when I walked in on Michael and Des’ conversation.  That’s something that each guy on the show is going to have to answer for himself because I don’t know.  I still don’t know the reasons they say or do the things they do but from what I hear it does.  Getting the first roses is not always the best thing, but it was for me.  It was more about how my relationship with Des was growing and that’s just more confirmation that, you know, hey, this is where I really need to be right now.  This is something that I really need to be pursuing so in my opinion, it didn’t bother me either way.  It was a great step for me and Des on our journey.

Catrina Whiteman:      OK, that makes sense.  When all this drama was happening, were you at all worried that it would get back to Des and she would see you differently.  Was that something you were kind of thinking about, I’m going to have to talk to her about this?

Ben:                       You know, not really.  That didn’t really ever cross my mind.  I don’t focus on the negative things so I wasn’t going to sit there and let what happened between me and Michael affect what’s happening between me and Des.  So, that really wasn’t a worry on my mind.

Catrina Whiteman:      OK, that’s brilliant.  Thank you so much.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               Your next question comes from (Bill King) from WABC.

(Bill King):              Hey Ben, how you doing?

Ben:                       Good.  How are you doing Bill?

(Bill King):              Good thanks.  So at this point with what we’ve seen so far, the audience doesn’t really know what to make of you.  I mean, you bring your son and he’s adorable, but as you said people have different opinions about it and some could see it as manipulative, and while seem genuine in your motivations and you say you’re there for the right reasons, your confidence and the way you interrupted the other night could be perceived as smug and arrogant.  So, you kind of made it clear that you’re not really concerned with what the other guys think of you in the house, but is it important to you how the audience perceives you and what they think your character is?

Ben:                       When I was doing the things that I was doing, it’s because I was doing for me and Des.  It was not with the intentions of how was anybody else going to perceive this.  So, that may have come back to bite me with some of the guys in the house, but this is a show to find love, a show to see if this person that you’re here with is the one that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.  And that’s what I was there to do and I had my way of going about it and some guys had other ways and I guess that’s all I have to say to that question.

(Bill King):              OK, I meant kind of more like, not necessarily what the other guys thought of you, but if you care on a bigger scale what the audience would think of you.  Not that you are concerned with the guys, but also if at the end of all this, if you do come across as the villain of the season, because like I said, at this point, people are kind of split on you.  Some think of you as a front runner and others kind of think you’re a d-bag, so I don’t really know like if that part concerns you.

Ben:                       I would have to say this, the only people that I would be concerned with how do I do on the show was my family and as long as I’m being who I am and I’m doing things that my mother would be OK seeing on TV and all of her friends, then I’m OK with who I am.  Now the rest of American, they’re going to have their own opinions and I’m not going to sway those either way so truly the only people that I probably would have cared about how I appear on TV would be my family because what I do could affect them as well.  Does that answer your question?

(Bill King):              Oh absolutely.  Thank you very much.  Now for my other follow up question.  As the season goes on and we see more, do you think that you’re going to kind of still be on the fence when it comes to the audience or do you think that one way or the other your personality will emerge a little more?

Ben:                       I think you’re just going to have to watch just like me and see how everything goes.  Everybody is going to form their own opinion and they’re going to pick different reasons to form their own opinion, but it’s going to be a great season and I guess everybody is going to have to figure that out for themselves.

(Bill King):              All right.  Thanks a lot.  I appreciate it.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               You have a follow up question from (Beth Kwiatkowski) from Realty TV World.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Hey Ben.  So obviously in next week’s episode it looks like one of the guys in the house has a girlfriend and she comes to the mansion not only to confront him, but warn Des of their relationship at home.  What were your thoughts when that happened?  Did you guys ever hear this bachelor ever talk about his girlfriend or did it come as a complete surprise to all of you?

Ben:                       That scene is going to be something to watch and it’s definitely going to be interesting to the viewers.  I’m not going to be able to comment much on that scene but it’s definitely going to be a big part of next episode for reasons that we all know, but that’s all I have on that.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Did you kind of think he was there for the right reasons at least from the beginning, like before that moment ever happened?

Ben:                       I can’t really comment on that.  I think in the next episode you’re going to see exactly what the guy thought, so the guys were pretty vocal on exactly what they thought about the situation.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    OK.  And it seems like although you were getting under the guy’s skin, you weren’t really trying to do that, like it wasn’t intentional on your part.  Did you actually hope and/or want to get along with the guys in the house but it just didn’t turn out that way, or did you not care about befriending the guys at all?  Like was it the type of situation where you’re like I’ll just be nice to their faces so they won’t say anything bad about me to Des or what was going on there?

Ben:                       It was never about doing things in front of them and doing something else behind their back.  It was never like that.  I wanted to want to be friends with the guys in the house, and I did have a lot of friends in the house.  You know, some guys were not OK with the way that (inaudible) was handled but I did have many friends in the house.  I did spend time when I wasn’t on dates developing those friendships and learning about the other guys.  I think I’ve got some really good friends that came off this show, but I never wanted to hurt anybody.  My intentions were never in the wrong place. 

Just in the moment you’re still pretty nervous, you’re in situations not necessarily what you’re used to so you know I made the decisions I made and that’s pretty much all I can say on that.  I did have friends in the house and I did (inaudible) but in the end we were there for Des, so that was my main concentration.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Great.  Thanks Ben.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               You have a follow up question from (Carrie Bell) from People Magazine.

(Carrie Bell):          I wonder if you, because you said you have no regrets and obviously your initial reason for being there that was most important was that you were there for Des, but now looking back do you at least have regrets about how you handled yourself?  You did already have a rose and that’s always perceived as being greedy for some reason, if you go into a rose ceremony, you have a rose and you still want time with her.  Do you feel like, crap, I wish I would have handled that differently?  Or, I kind of see what they’re saying.  I mean, like how are you feeling now that you have hindsight?

Ben:                       Everything is always easier with hindsight.  Unfortunately I didn’t have it at that time.  The way it happens is the way it happens.  You can’t go back and change that and you know, that is a question I get asked a lot is, you had a rose so why did you go steal her?  And you know, some of the guys thought that the guys that had roses should maybe hold back, you never have a chance to talk to her and if there is time for us to talk to her, but I’m sorry without time you can’t grow your relationship.  I think me and Des have had some very good quality time so far and that’s why our relationship is where it is.  Those minutes that I got with Des were great minutes and it really helped and I love talking to her it’s always so much fun and so easy going.  I really enjoyed that time that I had with her.  Could it have been handled differently the way that I got that time?  Yes of course.  But it didn’t.  I was really nervous.   I saw her and I just wanted to talk to her.  It affected me in some ways and it affected me in other ways.

(Carrie Bell):          I mean at this point in the show how were you feeling about her.  I mean do you feel like she could be the one, was that your first impression, like oh, OK this could work.  And why?

Ben:                       With me I don’t jump at things just extremely fast, but there is definitely a connection between me and Des and I think the viewers can see it and I can see it and Des can see it and that’s why I’ve gotten the roses that I’ve gotten and we have a great connection, we have a lot of things in common and things are going really well for me and Des.  I’m really excited about how everything’s going.

(Carrie Bell):          One more question.  You know the song, without rhyme or reasons and everybody’s, I mean it’s like you guys did the video because you had to do what everyone says or be screwy for the right reasons, obviously there’s a girlfriend and possibly many other things coming down the line, but at that point in the show did you feel like everyone was there for the right reasons?  Or, were there people you maybe suspected, like this guy might just want to be on TV or this guy might just want a good time, or did you see the whole group at this point being genuine and there to find a wife?

Ben:                       You know, it’s still pretty early on and we’re all still getting to know each other and it takes time to get to know each other so, at this point, no, none of us really believed anybody was there for the wrong reasons, but we all do understand that it’s early and we’re still getting to know each other, and we’re still trying to figure each other out.  I think it’s pretty early on to really know 100 percent about what is everybody’s true motives, but at this point I’ve never heard from one guy in the house who said this person is not here for the right things for the right reasons.  I think at that point everybody was OK with each other.

(Carrie Bell):          The time of blissful ignorance.  Thank you.

Ben:                       You’re welcome.

Opeator:                You have a follow up from (Beth Kwiatkowski) from Realty TV World.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Ben, you mentioned that you did have a few really good friends in the house.  Would you mind naming who were your friends at this point in the season?

Ben:                       I was on good terms with most of the guys, at least from what I saw.  Of course you never know what people are really thinking, but Brad was one of my really good friends and (Zach Hag) was one of my good friends, Robert was a good friend of mine and unfortunately he had to go.  I had some other good friends in the house, but those would be who I clicked with really well.  I connected with Brooks, he’s a great guy.  We really had a great group of guys and a lot of really thought this was probably one of the best teams when it comes to candidates.  It was just a fun group of guys and we had a lot of fun together, but you throw a girl in the mix and sometimes things change.  Especially a girl like Des who is so beautiful, so much fun. 

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    Ok, sure.  And I guess if not you, who else did you envision might be a good match for Des, while you were in the house at this point?

Ben:                       Again, it’s really early on to really know anybody and the thing that I always mentioned and believed was I only know what’s going on with me and Des.  I only know how our relationship is progressing.  I have no idea what’s going on with her and the other guys.  I’m not there for their conversations, I’m not there for their moments, so I want to just concentrate on how my relationship is going, and it’s going great, it’s going at a rapid rate and it’s really looking good.  So that’s the things that I was concentrating on.  I got asked a lot by other guys, you know, hey what do you think Des is really after.  Honestly I never had a good answer to that because I just knew what was going on between me and Des.

(Beth Kwiatkowski):    OK awesome.  Thanks Ben.

Ben:                       Thank you.

Operator:               And you have a follow up from Jennifer Peros from Us Weekly Magazine.

Jennifer Peros:     So let’s say you don’t win the season.  Would you ever consider being the Bachelor if they asked you?

Ben:                       That’s something I can’t comment on.

Jennifer Peros:     OK.  Thank you.

-Bill King


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