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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the death of legendary news editor Ben Bradlee.

March 13th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

How I met Stephen Colbert

When lining up guests for my first few weeks of The Lead, Stephen Colbert was a natural. His sister is running for Congress in South Carolina – her primary is on March 19, the day after my first show – and I’ve known Colbert now for almost a decade. After all, he was once a campaign reporter.

It was a cold Iowa winter’s day in 2004 when I first met him. The turn of events began when my producer Max and I became determined to get an interview with Howard Dean. The Vermont governor was beginning to tank in the polls just a few days before the Democratic caucuses, and we figured a reaction from him could get me on the news.

We pulled into a high school somewhere and found Dean’s then-adviser Joe Trippi, and stood in the back halls, waiting with two other reporters. One of them was Colbert, then with The Daily Show.

Click on the video above to see how Colbert remembers it.

We met later in South Carolina – in the halls of the University of South Carolina – and I later asked him to be my date for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. During the meal he excused himself to take a phone call. When he came back, he informed me that he’d just agreed to his own show. (The next year he gave the comedy address at the dinner, but that’s another story.)

Colbert will be one of my first guests, to talk about his sister’s congressional race and much, much more. He’s a lovely guy and, of course, hilarious. Hope you join us when the show debuts next week.

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