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Tucker Carlson is back — sort of.
Nearly a month after vowing a return to right-wing commentary through a show on Elon Musk’s Twitter, the fired Fox News host made good on his promise Tuesday evening and posted a 10-minute monologue to the social media platform.
The commentary, which appeared next to a “Tucker on Twitter” logo at the corner of the screen, was in the same style as viewers have come to expect from Carlson, a conspiracy-peddling talk-show host who gave voice to some of the most extreme ideas in right-wing politics.
The NYT’s Katie Robertson and Jeremy Peters summarized the first episode like this: “He expressed sympathy for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and mocked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. He accused the mainstream media of lying. He wrapped up by declaring that U.F.O.s and extraterrestrial life are ‘actually real.’”
“As of today, we’ve come to Twitter,” Carlson said in the video. “We’re told there are no gatekeepers here. If that turns out to be false, we’ll leave.”
The move by Carlson could inflame the behind-the-scenes negotiations with Fox News, given that Carlson remains under contract with the channel. Carlson has hired the powerhouse attorney Bryan Freedman to help him in such efforts, according to multiple reports.
Regardless, whether the Twitter show has the same influence and reach as Carlson’s one-time Fox News time slot is far from certain. The prime time perch at Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing network is uniquely powerful and unrivaled in the conservative media ecosystem. Carlson faces an uphill climb if he hopes to reclaim the power he once enjoyed through Twitter videos.
The first episode of “Tucker on Twitter” didn’t help. The debut video looked like a meager shell of Carlson’s former show. The production quality was bare bones, with the audio gently echoing in the background as Carlson used his spare hand to scroll through the teleprompter himself.
Supporters of Carlson, in addition to those who would like to believe Musk can use Twitter to destroy the mainstream press, asserted that Carlson’s debut was a success, with more than 20 million views at the time of this publication. But what counts as a video view on Twitter is unclear. Musk himself said that “it simply counts if you saw the post on the X/Twitter app or via web browser, not how long you watched.” In contrast, Nielsen, the gold standard of television ratings, provides data on the average number of concurrent viewers, not the cumulative number of views. The two sets of data are apples and oranges.
Nevertheless, Musk celebrated Carlson’s embrace of his platform on Tuesday, retweeting the video to his 140 million followers: “Would be great to have shows from all parts of the political spectrum on this platform!”