On February 24th, 2022 I happened to record “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS TV because the guest listed was Julia Ioffee. I had seen many tweets from Julia Ioffee on Twitter which I found insightful relative to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. So, I took this opportunity to learn a little more about her and was very impressed with the conversation she had with Stephen Colbert as the first segment of the show after the monologue.
I highly encourage you to view just a portion of this segment of the show because all the sub segments of this segment of the show build up to a powerful climax. Stephen Colbert masterfully guides the conversation along the way. And, Ms. Ioffee reveals that she worked with Mr. Colbert’s producers in advance “giving much thought and doing homework” to come up with the powerful ending to her interview along with expert coaxing, prompting and interview skills by Colbert.
This is a summary of just a portion of her interview which Stephen Colbert dubbed “A Cautionary Tale”.
At the beginning of the interview, they reminisced about their first meeting when she appeared on the show in 2014. Stephen Colbert just happed to comment about Ukraine eight years ago in their first meeting.
This interview built on their previous meeting and segued into a discussion of events in Ukraine now. Colbert revealed a few things that I did not know about Julia Ioffee. She is a journalist who has been reporting on Russia for 15 years. Also, she IS Russian herself, having been born in Russia. During the course of the interview she indicated that she had been touch with friends in Moscow.
Julia discusses that Russians of her generation having never experienced democracy. ”Ukrainians have had democracy for a couple of decades. “People in Moscow [her friends] don’t have as much experience with democracy as we do. Russians haven’t really experienced democracy.”
”Look how hard they [the Ukranians] are fighting for it.” “We [Americans] tend to take it [democracy] for granted.” Her implication here is that Ukrainians who have had democracy for only twenty years are fighting like champs to retain and protect their limited experience with it. Americans have had democracy for a couple hundred years and “we tend to take it for granted and we’re complacent about it”. She supports her observation that Americans are complacent about democracy by reminding us how shocked and surprised we were of events in Washington D.C. January 6th, 2021 and of Trump’s actions in general.
“And if it [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] teaches us anything, it teaches us that democracy is WORK [which ALL of us must be doing]. “It’s vigilance. It’s being educated. It’s being a savvy consumer of media. It’s voting. It’s paying attention” [ at this point Colbert gently butts in and dubs her comments “A CAUTIONARY TALE” implying that we all should heed her advice.]
“We already have it! We have to make it better!” [this is work we must all do as citizens]
“We’ve had it for hundreds of years and all we have to do is work at it and make it better” [In contrast to the Ukrainians fighting with their lives to retain two decades of history with democracy] “These guys [Ukranians] have started from scratch”
Colbert ties a bow around the climax: “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, this is a cautionary tale for us” — Julia Ioffe’s articles can be read at puck.news”
Disclaimer: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is the property of CBS Viacom in accordance with this coporation’s contracts with Stephen Colbert. This is a compilation of the notes I took down during the segment described: