"The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" scored its biggest audience in more than a year with Tuesday night's interview with Barack Obama.
The episode, during which the former president promoted his new memoir "A Promised Land" and denounced the current administration's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, was watched by 3.49 million people, according to Nielsen.
The last time "The Late Show" had an audience that big was in October 2019, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat down for an interview with Colbert following Congress' decision to launch an impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump.
"The Late Show" is currently averaging 3.02 million viewers, leading competitors "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" with 1.77 million and 1.50 million total viewers, respectively. The CBS late-night show is also leading in another key demographic, adults aged 18-49, with 452,000 viewers to Kimmel's 386,000 and Fallon's 348,000.
During Colbert's interview with Obama -- the show's first in-person sit-down since the start of the pandemic -- the former president criticized the current administration's "shambolic" response to COVID-19, saying, "There is no doubt we would have saved some lives" if the crisis had been better handled by the federal government. Obama also lambasted the Republican party, unfavorably comparing them to Colbert's parody of conservatism on "The Colbert Report."
"I think that that is a measure of how detached from reality and how embedded ideological and conspiratorial thinking has become, where you're doing it even when it's to your disadvantage," Obama said, noting that a stronger response to the pandemic would have been "good politics" for Trump and the Republican party in the months leading up to the election. "You're drinking your own Kool-Aid in a way that I think is troublesome."