CBS’s news magazine program 60 minutes has dominated its time slot in the Nielsen ratings for years, but an interview with President-elect Barack Obama drew the program’s highest ratings since 1999, according to a CBS spokesperson.
Nielsen Media Research reports that nearly 25 million viewers watched the 60 minutes Obama interview. CBS journalist Steve Kroft interviewed the President-elect, and the two discussed a plethora of different issues ranging from the current economic bailout package being debated in the House, the war in Iraq, and even college football.
In the second half of the interview, first lady in waiting, Michelle Obama, joined the discussion, giving many Americans a greater insight into the woman behind the man.
True to form, Obama was gracious, steady and engaging in the interview. When discussing the beleaguered state of the economy, the President-elect measured his words carefully, but was always reassuring, even while defining the seriousness of the situation. Encouragingly, Obama’s trademark optimism manages to shine through, even when discussing matters of a “most unpleasant nature.”
Also reassuring to many Americans was the President-elect’s obvious command of the issues; he demonstrated that he both intellectually and emotionally understood the hardships being faced by many Americans at this time.
Of particular interest to many were Obama’s comments about the state of the US auto industry, which many feel is on the verge of collapse. The President-elect stated that losing the big three US automakers would “be a disaster in this kind of environment.” He made it clear that he felt the government should provide assistance to the industry, but also emphasized that simply writing a “blank check” was not the solution.
An interesting break in the conversation came when Steve Kroft asked the President-elect if he ever wondered “what did I get myself into?” Obama responded thoughtfully, with an awareness of the multiple “enormous” issues the country is facing at this time. He emphasized that his team would be doing a substantial amount of groundwork even before he takes office on January 20, 2009.
During the second part of the interview, Kroft ask Michelle Obama about living with the President-elect, and she offered a few humorous anecdotes about Obama as a graduate student — with a stereotypically shabby student apartment and a “ramshackle” car he drove around town.
Overall, it seems that both the President-elect and the future first lady both earned high marks for their performance on 60 minutes. But the biggest winner of the night had to be the 60 minutes program itself, scoring humongous ratings and reaffirming the program’s status as the premier news magazine on American television.