by Todd Froemling
Politicians have long been accused of being detached from college students and other young voters, and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's appearance on "The Daily Show" last month did not do much to dispel that notion.
Blagojevich agreed to sit down with "The Daily Show's" Jason Jones to discuss contraceptives, but what he said he did not realize was that the interview would be used for a show that spoofs the news.
"Blagojevich really dropped the ball, but one of his press people should have told him about it. I can't believe no one did," Joseph Blaney, an associate communication professor and director of broadcasting, said.
"I could see someone losing their job after something like this."
During many parts of Blagojevich's appearance he looked confused, and at one point looked off camera to ask, "Is he teasing me, or is that legit?"
He later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he did not know the show was a spoof until after the interview.
However, Ron Stephens, a state representative who was also featured in the segment, said he believed Blagojevich knew of the show's comic nature all along.
"With all due respect to the governor, he knew it was a comedy show. It's general knowledge for people under 90 years of age.
It was when he came off looking so silly that he said he thought it was a regular news program," Stephens said.
"Even assuming he didn't know about it beforehand, we had to sign a release before the interview."
The segment in which Blagojevich appeared was about an Illinois law that requires pharmacists to give out all prescriptions, including the morning-after pill, regardless of their moral beliefs.
At one point, Jones asked the governor to play the role of a "hot 17-year-old" needing contraceptives.
Blagojevich has announced he is running for reelection in November. Thoughts about what lasting effects his appearance on the show could have on his campaign varied.
"Blagojevich showed that he doesn't quite realize what is going on," senior criminal justice science major Dave Kline said.
"His appearance showed that he's not mainstream and he doesn't have much of a sense of humor.
"I could see it hurting his chances in the upcoming election."
"It's kind of unfortunate that so many college students only get their news from The Daily Show, but it's something that almost every politician knows about," Kline said.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, for instance, announced he would run for president on the Daily Show back in 2003.
Former presidential candidate and senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) also appeared on the show during his campaign.
Stephens said this was a small example of a trust problem that has been growing in Springfield, and he too said it could effect his reelection.
"He thinks he's 'tight,' as young people put it, but we don't know whether or not we can trust him," he said.
Blaney, however, said he does not expect any negative effects stemming from Blagojevich's confusion.
"The people who watch 'The Daily Show' know it's so ridiculous some people who go on there could get snickered."
"I don't think college students will hold it against him," he said.
According to a survey by the Pew Foundation, 20 percent of young voters get their news from "The Daily Show."
The Illinois gubernatorial election will be held on Nov. 7.
In the 2002 election, Blagojevich defeated Republican Jim Ryan.