Bret Baier‘s exclusive interview with President Obama was called a “standoff” by The Baltimore Sun and an “Interrupt-A-Thon” by The Huffington Post. Now, according to Nielsen, the one-on-one interview could also be called a ratings success.
Fox News’ “Special Report,” which aired the interview, drew 2.907 million total viewers on Wednesday. Baier’s show was far ahead of the hour’s competition as MSNBC’s “The Ed Show” drew 537,000 total viewers and CNN’s “Situation Room” drew 420,000. It ended up being the second-highest rated cable news program of the evening in total viewers, positioned just behind FNC’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The interview came as the President ramps up his campaign for health care reform and much of the conversation centered on the ongoing congressional battle over health care legislation. At one point, as Baier pressed the President on specifics of the legislative process, Obama shot back, “I’m trying to answer your questions but you keep on interrupting .” (Full transcript here).
It was an interview filled with contentious moments and Baier was clearly trying to take full advantage of the President’s rare appearance on Fox News. David Zurawik, media critic for The Baltimore Sun, applauded Baier’s efforts, writing, “As much credit as I give Obama for taking his healthcare message to Fox News and staying on point, I also praise Baier for being thoroughly prepared and hitting a very difficult tone of being appropriately aggressive.”