Stormy Daniels Attracts 22 Million Viewers to ‘60 Minutes’


The “60 Minutes” interview of Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, on a screen at the Hi-Life bar in Manhattan on Sunday.

Peter Foley/EPA, via Shutterstock

Stormy Daniels is a ratings blockbuster.

CBS’s “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday night featuring the pornographic film actress, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, garnered the highest ratings for the program in almost a decade. It drew 22 million viewers, according to Nielsen, more than the much-hyped recent telecasts for the Grammys and the Golden Globes.

The segment on Ms. Clifford, who said she had a sexual relationship with Donald J. Trump in 2006 and had been offered money to keep it quiet, took up more than half the episode. The start of the episode was delayed 36 minutes by an overtime NCAA men’s basketball tournament game between Kansas and Duke. The CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who joined “60 Minutes” as a correspondent in 2006, conducted the interview.


Ms. Daniels’s interview, conducted by Anderson Cooper, got “60 Minutes” its best rating since a 2008 sit-down with the Obamas.


The episode was the best performer for “60 Minutes” since the airing of Steve Kroft’s interview with Barack and Michelle Obama after the 2008 election, which had more than 25 million viewers. The ratings on Sunday were probably helped somewhat by a strong lead-in, the college basketball game, which Kansas won, 85-81.

The rise of streaming has fractured the television audience, and it has become a rarity for a show to draw more than 20 million viewers. The exceptions are live broadcasts of major sporting events and awards shows.

The interview segment with Ms. Clifford made for a bigger draw than the telecasts of this year’s Grammys (19.8 million) and the Golden Globes (19 million). The “60 Minutes” episode also had more viewers than the usual editions of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which averaged 18 million viewers, and came within striking distance of ABC’s telecast last month of the Academy Awards, which had 26.5 million viewers.

The highly anticipated segment on Ms. Clifford kicked off viewing parties, both at home and at bars.

The broadcast also outperformed recent “60 Minutes” breakout episodes. The El Chapo-focused interview with Sean Penn, in January 2016, drew 20.6 million viewers, and Lesley Stahl’s sit-down with Mr. Trump and his family, soon after he won the presidential election in November 2016, drew 20 million.

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Adult Film Star Says She Stayed Silent on Trump Out of Fear


Stephanie Clifford, the adult film star known as Stormy Daniels, told “60 Minutes” that a man threatened her after she agreed to a tell a magazine about an affair with Donald J. Trump. Ms. Clifford said the man told her: “Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.”

CBS News, via Associated Press

The adult film star Stephanie Clifford told “60 Minutes” that she struck a $130,000 deal for her silence about an alleged affair with Donald J. Trump in the final days of the 2016 campaign because she was worried about her safety and that of her young daughter.

That concern, she told “60 Minutes” in an interview for broadcast on Sunday night, was based on a threat she received in 2011 from a man who approached her in Las Vegas. She said the threat came after she sold her story about Mr. Trump for $15,000 to InTouch magazine, which decided not to run it after Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, threatened to sue the publication.

“I was in a parking lot going to a fitness class with my infant daughter,” she told the “60 Minutes” correspondent and CNN host Anderson Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview. “And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story.’ And he leaned round and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl, it would be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

So when her previous lawyer came to her with an offer brokered by Mr. Cohen in the final days of the presidential campaign, she said, she agreed because, “I was concerned for my family and their safety.”

Ms. Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, was the featured subject of what was the most highly anticipated episode of “60 Minutes” in its recent history, turning her story about a consensual relationship with the president into something of a national event, one replete with viewing parties and “Dark and Stormy” cocktail specials at bars. She is one of two women who have recently filed suit seeking to get out of agreements they said they entered during the last stretch of the 2016 campaign to give up the rights to their stories about what they have said were affairs with Mr. Trump. The other woman, a former Playmate named Karen McDougal, sold her rights to the company that owns The National Enquirer, and spoke to Mr. Cooper on CNN on Thursday.

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