After his 2016 post-election interview on 60 Minutes, US president Donald Trump reportedly called a producer of the CBS news program to ask if he had broken any TV ratings records. He had not. In fact, he had fallen well short of the mark set by the post-election interview of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
And after this weekend, the notoriously ratings-obsessed Trump is even further down the 60 Minutes ratings totem pole. Anderson Cooper’s interview with the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, in which she provided details of her alleged affair more than a decade ago with the current US president, drew a whopping 22.1 million viewers—the most since Obama’s 2008 interview on the show and over 3 million more than the audience for Trump’s appearance.
Daniels’ interview is now the third most-watched 60 Minutes interview in the show’s 50-year history, and one of the most-watched television interviews on any program, ever.
By a large margin, Oprah’s 1993 interview with Michael Jackson—at the time, the pop legend’s first interview in 14 years—is the most-watched interview in TV history. There’s a clear theme of scandal or drama in the list of the highest-rated television interviews. Also on the list is Monica Lewinsky, who had an affair with then-president Bill Clinton; Richard Nixon (three years after his resignation from the US presidency); and the parents of the child beauty queen JonBenét Ramsey, who was murdered four years earlier.
Trump’s 2016 interview on 60 Minutes comes in at 10th place, behind two separate Obama interviews and the interview with Daniels, describing a sexual encounter with him that she claims happened months after his youngest son Barron was born to his wife, Melania Trump.
In the riveting interview, Daniels said that since that alleged affair in 2006, she has been intimidated by Trump’s legal team into denying the affair, and was even threatened by an unknown man in Las Vegas in 2011. Daniels was paid $130,000 by Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied the affair.
Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, pointed out that Daniels’ 60 Minutes interview earned higher ratings than the average of any season of Trump’s former reality show, The Apprentice:
Uncharacteristically, Trump has not spoken or tweeted directly about Daniels, though he did complain vaguely about “So much Fake News” the morning after the interview aired.