Colbert didn't cut corners here, immediately opening the interview with a confrontation over claims Stone's series of conversations with Vladimir Putin amounts to nothing but a "fawning interview of a brutal dictator", particularly following a clip in which Stone appears to accept Putin's answer on whether Russia interfered with the US election at face value.
Stone then seemed increasingly defensive of Putin, explaining: "He is a head of state. He has his own interests of Russia. I respect him for that, and I understand why he’s doing that. He's a strong nationalist."
"I think he’s devoted to his country," he later added. "And I’m amazed at his calmness, as I said, his courtesy. He never really said anything bad about anybody. And he’s really been through a lot, and he’s been insulted and abused... "
At this point the audience, who had heartily applauded Stone when he took to the stage, seemed to lose their patience and reacted audibly to the the claim that Putin had been "abused in the press; in the media".
"Any thing about him negative you found? Or, does he have your dog in a cage someplace?" Colbert then asked, to a round of applause and laughter.
"I don’t understand why our president will never say anything negative about Vladimir Putin," he added. "Given that Putin is an oppressive leader of his country, who suppressed the free press and arrests his enemies. And that is not something that I, as an American, or a member of the press, can respect. And I’m surprised that you do respect that."
The Putin Interviews continue on Showtime until Thursday.
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