Barack Obama gives O'Reilly a ratings bump

'O'Reilly Factor' sees second-highest numbers ever

NEW YORK -- Bill O'Reilly's interview with Sen. Barack Obama on Thursday brought "The O'Reilly Factor" the second-highest ratings in its history.

"The O'Reilly Factor" averaged 6.6 million viewers Thursday night, Nielsen Media Research said Friday. It was surpassed in the ratings only by the March 19, 2003, "O'Reilly Factor" that led into President Bush's nationally televised speech about the beginning of the Iraq War.

After months of avoiding Fox News Channel, Obama entered the "no-spin zone" Thursday afternoon, doing a sitdown with O'Reilly during a campaign stop in York, Pa. It coincided with the last night of the Republican National Convention, where a few hours later John McCain accepted the GOP nomination for the presidency. O'Reilly will have more excerpts from the interview Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The O'Reilly ratings and its sky-high numbers for the McCain speech cap quite a week for the Fox News Channel. It averaged 9.2 million viewers Wednesday for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's vice presidential acceptance speech and 9.2 million viewers Thursday night for McCain's speech. It not only beat the rest of the networks but they were also the highest-rated convention telecasts in cable news ever.

Both speeches are also among the most-watched telecasts in Fox News Channel's 12-year history.