Ventura’s new TV show lets students challenge his views

Jesse Ventura is back, and this time, students can challenge him directly.

The former governor and pro wrestler’s weekly show, “Jesse Ventura’s America,” aired on MSNBC for the first time Saturday with audience members – including University student Warren Young – who discussed politics and current events with Ventura.

“They’re not pundits, they’re real people,” Ventura said, introducing the audience members. He said the show gives ordinary people a forum to discuss their political opinions.

Young, a strategic communications senior, said he plans on being in future shows, and at least one other University student will be on Saturday’s show.

Sonya Tormoen, an MSNBC employee in charge of selecting audience members; said the show recruits students because they are politically active, organized and will help provide diversity in audience members’ ages.

University student Jerry Broeckert was involved with test tapings and has been invited back to participate in future shows.

“I enjoyed the experience,” Broeckert said.

During each show, Ventura poses a topic for debate, gives his opinion and then gives the audience members a chance to respond.

“Since he’s the host of the show, he’s got the final word,” Broeckert said.

Even though only half the audience members had time to speak, Young said anyone – whatever his or her political affiliation – can have his or her voice heard.

“You’ve got to yell and you’ve got to make one-sentence jabs,” Young said.

He added that although it is tough to have one’s opinion heard on the show, it is still a valuable opportunity.

Even the chance to talk a small amount is better than not taking the opportunity at all, Young said.

University political science professor David Samuels said he does not think Ventura will allow people who disagree with him a chance to really debate.

“Ventura is thin-skinned,” Samuels said.

Still, students should capitalize on the chance to try, he said.

“(It would) certainly be worthwhile to take advantage of Jesse’s offer,” Samuels said.

Other politically minded students said the show would not have an impact on University students.

“They (students) might watch the show because it’s Jesse,” said Tiffany Rodgers, an officer for Students for Dean – a University group lobbying to get Howard Dean elected president.

She said she had no plans to watch the show and did not think other students would either.

But Tormoen said the issues on the show are relevant to students.

“Anything we talk about affects students in one way or the other,” Tormoen said.

Dan Nelson, Campus Republicans chairman, said he might watch because he is interested in politics but doubts it will sustain a political debate.

“How many times can you really watch Ventura try to formulate an opinion?” Nelson said.

Young said he cannot wait for the opportunity to debate with Ventura again.

“I’m looking forward to the chance to be able to just call (Ventura) out,” Young said. “The opportunity is right in front me.”