Tucker Carlson launched his promised new show on Twitter on Tuesday with talk of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, UFOs, who killed JFK and what really went down on 9/11 — and the former Fox News host was a hit.
In its first four hours-plus, the low-tech 10-minute video posted on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform attracted 27 million views.
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Broadcasting from what looked like a wooden cabin home studio and postulating that “American citizens are the least-informed in the world” along with his well-trodden take on the failings of the American media, Carlson essentially delivered what counted for a more echoing and caffeinated version of his nightly monologue on FNC’s Tucker Carlson Tonight.
While the topics and themes bellowed out Tuesday might have been right at home on the Rupert Murdoch outlet where Carlson reigned supreme in primetime for over six years before being suddenly dropped on April 24 — his numbers on Twitter left Fox in the dust, even though the metrics are apples to avocados.
Setting the GOP agenda daily and hugging the far right, Carlson averaged 3.25 million viewers in March, his last full month on the air, according to Nielsen. The network has been rotating hosts in his former 8 p.m. ET time slot, and they have generally garnered about half the size of that March audience.
Technically still under contract to Fox until January 2025 and paid more than $20 million a year, Carlson has engaged Hollywood heavyweight lawyer Bryan Freedman to negotiate his exit from the company. With his last show on April 21, Carlson’s departure from Fox’s airwaves came soon after the company paid out nearly $800 million to settle Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit over false election fraud reports. Battling a leak of incriminating texts and video out of his time at Fox, Carlson also faces a suit from TCT‘s former senior booking producer Abby Grossberg alleging rampant misogyny and harassment on the show.
Frequently accused of taking racist and anti-immigrant positions while on Fox News, Carlson promised on May 9 that he would be debuting a show on Twitter because it is one of the few “platforms left that allow free speech.” While that might be debatable, tonight’s Tucker on Twitter premiere might be in violation of Carlson’s FNC contract — or a sign he is free of it.
Neither attorney Freedman or Fox News responded to Deadline’s request for comment on the new Twitter show. On the other hand, just back from a whirlwind and much-feted visit to China, Elon Musk had something to say about Carlson’s launch on his financially ailing platform:
Would be great to have shows from all parts of the political spectrum on this platform! https://t.co/hrzEH31Pk0
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 6, 2023
Not that Carlson himself didn’t have a lot to say with thinly veiled antisemitic attacks on Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky as “sweaty and rat-like, a comedian-turned-oligarch, a persecutor of Christians.”
“What’s happened to the hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars we’ve sent to Ukraine? No clue,” Carlson asked with his trademarked conspiracy-drenched rhetorical style. “Who organized those Black Lives Matter riots three years ago? No one’s gotten to the bottom of that. What exactly happened on 9/11? Well, it’s still classified.”
Swatting Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham as “a starving man contemplating a breakfast buffet” for his support of U.S. backing on Ukraine against Russia’s invasion, and getting “aroused” at the death of Russian troops, Carlson also got topical with a take on what really happened to the Kakhovka Dam this week.
“Any fair person would conclude the Ukrainians probably blew it up,” he said of the damage at the Russian-held facility that forced thousands of Ukrainians to abandon their homes after flooding. “Just as you would assume they blew up Nord Stream, the Russian natural gas pipeline, last fall. In fact, the Ukrainians did do that, as we now know,” Carlson continued, stating as fact a situation that remains murky.
“Blowing up the dam may be bad for Ukraine, but it hurts Russia more, and for precisely that reason the Ukrainian government has considered destroying it,” Carlson declared Tuesday even as U.S. officials say they are still assessing who actually blew up the dam. Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other.
Throwing his usual swipes at that the “skinny dude in a dress is a girl” and discussions of race relations, Carlson then turned his attention to reports from a former member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office that the American government has alien “spacecraft” and “dead pilots.”
“UFOs are actually real, and apparently so is extraterrestrial life,” Carlson exclaimed of the statements Air Force vet David Grusch gave to upstart cable newser NewsNation today. Claiming whistleblower status, Grusch also admitted he hadn’t seen any of the vehicles or aliens but said he had spoken to people who had. For Carlson, the real news wasn’t that we may not be alone in the universe, but that The New York Times and Washington Post hadn’t covered Grusch’s story.
“Now, in a normal country, this news would qualify as a bombshell — the story of the millennium. But in our country, it doesn’t.”
Of course, Carlson being Carlson, he couldn’t stop himself from promising to take his ball home if he wasn’t allowed to play with it as he chooses.
“We’re told there are no gatekeepers here,” he said of Twitter near the end of his pro-Russia online rant tonight. “If that turns out to be false, we’ll leave. But in the meantime, we are grateful to be here. We will be back with much more very soon.”
Ted Johnson contributed to this report.
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