On paper it hardly seems like the blueprint for a hit TV series: a news program that reports regularly from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, devotes nearly 20 minutes to an arcane underpinning of the financial crisis known as credit-default swaps, and concludes each broadcast with the observations of a curmudgeon who took his first steps when Woodrow Wilson was president.
And yet that program, "60 Minutes" on CBS, has been the most-watched in the nation the last two weeks -- including the full episode on Sunday devoted to Steve Kroft's interview with Barack and Michelle Obama. For the television season that began in September "60 Minutes" is ranked No. 9 in the Nielsen ratings, with an average audience each week of 15.7 million -- nearly 2 million more than the same period last year. If the program maintains that pace through May, it could end the season ranked in the Top 10 among total viewers for the first time since 2000. (It was last ranked No. 1 in 1994, according to CBS's analysis of Nielsen data.)