By Oliver Darcy, CNN
Right-wing extremist Tucker Carlson announced Tuesday that he will relaunch his program on Twitter, which he praised as the only remaining large free-speech platform in the world after Fox News fired him late last month.
Carlson made the announcement in a video posted to the social media website, which Elon Musk acquired last year. Musk said Twitter did not sign an agreement with Carlson for his new show.
Twitter has devolved in recent months into a chaotic platform where the traditional press has come under assault from the billionaire.
“Speech is the fundamental pre-requisite for democracy. That’s why it was enshrined in the first of our Constitutional amendments,” Carlson said. “Amazingly, as of tonight, there are not that many platforms left that allow free speech. The last big one remaining … is Twitter, where we are now.”
Carlson demonized the news media in his announcement video, accusing journalists of often excluding facts that detract from their narratives. He did not mention Musk has censored speech on Twitter, including banning several prominent reporters from the website just last year.
Although Carlson did not directly address his abrupt firing from Fox News in the video, he strongly alluded to it.
“The best you can hope for in the news business at this point is the freedom to tell the fullest truth that you can. But there are always limits,” Carlson said. “And you know that if you bump up against those limits often enough, you will be fired for it. That’s not a guess, that’s guaranteed.”
The Wall Street Journal, which is controlled by Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch, reported last month that Carlson’s contract with Fox News was worth about $20 million a year. The newspaper reported that Carlson was expected to be paid out in full.
His move to launch a show on Twitter could jeopardize whether he ultimately receives that money. A spokesperson for Fox Corporation could not be immediately reached for comment on the matter.
Musk said Twitter did not agree to a financial arrangement with Carlson.
“We have not signed a deal of any kind whatsoever,” Musk tweeted Tuesday night. “Tucker is subject to the same rules & rewards of all content creators.”
Carlson’s decision to relaunch his show on Twitter signals his strong desire to remain present in both the media and politics, where he played an outsized role while occupying the 8 p.m. ET slot on Fox News.
Aside from former President Donald Trump, Carlson was arguably the most powerful voice inside the Republican Party, with lawmakers fearing his wrath and appearing on his program in a symbolic bow to his feet.
Carlson was able to achieve that influence by posting high ratings. But his monster viewership numbers were earned through the trafficking of anti-immigrant rhetoric, false conspiracy theories, and the promotion of white nationalist talking points.
Fox News has struggled, however, to fill the gap Carlson left. The network’s ratings have not only fallen significantly in the all-important 8 p.m. time slot in wake of his departure, but they have weakened throughout prime time. The right-wing channel in recent weeks has posted some of its lowest ratings since the era before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
For Twitter, the addition of Carlson’s show is unsurprising.
Musk has helped to elevate the visibility of far-right figures on the platform both by engaging with their tweets from his personal account and by allowing them to pay for Twitter Blue accounts, which provides them “verified” blue checks and comes with greater prominence in search. Musk has urged his millions of followers to vote Republican and also appeared on Carlson’s show on Fox shortly before he was let go.
Musk has restored the accounts of many users who had previously been banned for violating the platform’s rules, including right-wing figures like Trump and a number of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
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