The Tucker/Trump Interview Blows Up the Internet, But Did it Leave Fox News in the Dust?

The Tucker/Trump Interview Blows Up the Internet, But Did it Leave Fox News in the Dust?

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
|
August 24, 2023

Citing a 30+ point lead in virtually every primary poll, former President Donald Trump (R) decided to skip the first Republican primary debate (hosted by Fox News) and opted for an interview with Tucker Carlson (former Fox News host).

Carlson didn’t hold back, asking Trump about his thoughts concerning the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the prospect of civil war, the gross fallibility of the intelligence agencies, specifically the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and whether former Vice President Mike Pence (R) had the legal authority to return allegedly fraudulent electorate votes to the states.

He even said that Fox News was “Backing Ron DeSanctimonious like crazy and now they’ve given up on him, it’s a lost cause.”

The interview was released on Tucker Carlson’s X (formerly Twitter) account just five minutes before the start of the debate (9 pm EST) and amassed over 70 million views in just 35 minutes.

While that figure is impressive, it should be mentioned that the video itself is 46 minutes long. Therefore, it can be concluded that a video’s viewership on X is not necessarily tabulated for those who only watch the video in its entirety, but also for someone who sees the video in their feed or clicks on the video for just a few moments. Both scenarios of viewership are counted equally.

However, while the facts surrounding X’s viewership algorithm are important to note, the figures surrounding the Trump interview were just astronomical.

X has roughly 400 million active users. At the time of writing, Tucker Carlson’s interview with President Trump had 200 million views and will only rise. Roughly half of all active users on X apparently saw the video in their feeds, in less than 24 hours, which is a massive accomplishment.

Tucker, after ascending to the 8 pm throne of Fox News royalty, was banished and exiled to Twitter (which then became X).

Nevertheless, banished and exiled members of society are usually never heard from again.

That is unless you’re Tucker Carlson who has become louder from the outskirts of the castle; louder from the confines of the city; and louder from the borders of the dominion; but most importantly: loudest amongst the people.

Following Jan. 6, Trump was similarly banished from Twitter and then moved to create his own social media platform, Truth Social.

It’s almost as though the combination of the two together on X felt – dirty.

Tucker was getting back at the company that fired him while Trump was proving to legacy media and the other candidates that they needed him more than he needed them.

While Tucker moves the needle, Trump is the needle.

And while all of this is true, and the Trump/Tucker interview did massive numbers, I don’t think the Fox News debate ratings will slide as much as people think.

As someone who’s in the sports media world, there is no replacement for live television. I would argue that live television has kept cable TV afloat. Three components of human nature kept people watching the debate on Wednesday:

Number one: We love the danger of live events, especially in a competitive atmosphere like a debate. It is very similar to a sporting event. The world is waiting for someone to mess up and derail their campaign or say a one-liner so good that it elevates their campaign to new heights. Perhaps more for their own selfish reasons, so that they can say, “I was there when this happened, I was at location XYZ.”

Number two: There is a fear of missing out on important moments. Since humans are social creatures, no one would rather hear second-hand about a monumental moment in history.

Number three: Even if you don’t know the outcome of a live event and you watch it later, you lose the communal feeling of watching it simultaneously with the nation.

The final figures surrounding both the debate and Tucker’s interview will be fascinating, especially as social media changes the landscape of the news industry. But had the interview been a live one and not prerecorded, who knows how many more view it would've obtained?

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a senior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE) and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the Sports Editor of the FSView and the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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