A blurred line (former Gov. Blagojevich on Letterman)

This week, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich began testifying in his corruption trial. Blagojevich is on trial for 20 different corruption charges and faces up to 350 years in prison.
When I heard he was taking the stand, I couldn’t help but think about the strange interview Blagojevich did with David Letterman back in February 2009. I was in the audience that snowy afternoon and, to this day, I’m not sure what to make of my experience.
Letterman opened with a list of corrupt Illinois officials who are currently in prison on corruptions charges. Blagojevich responded that unlike those men, he would be found innocent. The audience laughed at him. Letterman himself said the more he heard Blagojevich pronounce his innocence the more he thought, ‘This guy is guilty.’ And the audience laughed again.
Blagojevich said he tried to get the truth out during his impeachment trial. The Democrats (who wanted to raise the income tax) and the Republicans (who wanted to embarrass the Democrats) conspired against him to keep the truth from coming out. Strangely, no one laughed at that one.
Letterman and Blagojevich traded questions and answers about the accusations and then Dave asked, “Do you use shampoo and conditioner?” And the audience laughted.
Now, if you have been to a taping of a Letterman show you know that The Late Show staff come out and get the audience “warmed up.” One of the instructions during the warm up is that the audience should laugh. One young staffer told us, “Don’t think about it. Laugh first. You can wonder if it’s funny after the show.”
I went away from the show with a real dis-ease. Two things bothered me. Blagojevich, though charismatic, said outrageous things that were taken seriously. And Letterman said some serious things that were taken as a joke.
The line between the serious and the absurd was blurred. If you don’t think about it, I guess it somehow makes sense. But, once you leave the show, you begin to wonder if it was funny at all.

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One Response to “A blurred line (former Gov. Blagojevich on Letterman)”

  1. Carolyn Rauh says:

    Very insightful! Thanks for sharing.

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