Today, the world woke up to a few videos of Donald Trump’s meet n’ greet with the Great Stephen Colbert. The event was nothing short of monumental, as the right-wing billionaire was given a chance to discuss some pressing issues with a primarily liberal audience.
You can watch snippets of the interview from Colbert’s YouTube Channel.
And who better to engage the former Apprentice star than a man who sarcastically embodied a stereotypical conservative for 10 years on Comedy Central?
But—to the surprise of many—interviewing “The Donald” wasn’t Colbert’s most enlightening or entertaining segment to date. Don’t get me wrong; the exchange was beautifully scripted and showed both parties in their best light. Although, I don’t think Colbert’s capable of an off night.
While ratings for this particular episode were the show’s highest to date, interviews with political figures like Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz were just as engaging.
Perhaps more important is The Late Show‘s ability to do what American politics hasn’t for a millennia: create an objective dialogue between members of the political left AND right.
Consider Colbert’s interview with Republican hopeful Ted Cruz. A well-known critic of gay marriage, the senator was challenged by a meticulously well-read host on the subject. As the crowd began to boo the conservative politician, Colbert stopped them.
“Guys, he’s my guest. However you feel, please don’t boo him.” You can watch the moment here at :30.
Putting aside the unparalleled degree of class that Colbert used to diffuse the situation, let’s acknowledge how groundbreaking the moment was.
In a nutshell, it encouraged democracy’s primary tenet: to give every voice a chance to be heard.
Nowadays, both the liberal left and conservative right are caught in an argument with no structure. As a liberal, I’m encouraged to open my mouth and close my ears whenever the concept of denying universal marriage rights is tabled. I emphatically believe that gay rights are a non-issue, that everyone deserves the right to happiness, but I’m extremely encouraged by Colbert’s ability to force a liberal audience to HEAR the beliefs of someone they don’t agree with.
The same can be said about his interview with Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders. A self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie’s platform is to give America back to the 99%. Instead of stoking Bernie’s fire and declaring his support, Colbert threw incredibly tough questions at the 74-year-old.
Before a commercial break, Colbert said “we’ve gotta get some messages right now from GIANT corporations who pay our bills.” This was a realistic approach to Sanders’ policy, which attempts to get big money out of politics.
Be it Elon Musk, Ted Cruz, or even Donald Trump, Colbert is solidifying his reputation as a brilliant interviewer. With a ruthless combination of objectivity, class and skepticism, Letterman’s replacement will have an enormous impact on the 2016 U.S. Election.
After all, he’s doing what American politics and media en large is failing to do: facilitate a reasoned discussion between advocates of two political viewpoints that couldn’t be farther apart.
Let’s hope American Congress tries to follow suit.
(Insert witty and equally thought-provoking sign off here)