Instead of attending the first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate hosted by Fox News, former president and current primary frontrunner Donald Trump did a sit-down interview with Tucker Carlson on X (formerly Twitter)– which has now raked in over 200 million impressions since it was published Wednesday night.
According to Nielsen Ratings, the concurrently-programmed Fox News Republican primary debate drew in 12.8 million viewers, about half as many as the first GOP presidential debate in 2015, which hit 24 million viewers.
Although X shows the Trump and Tucker Carlson interview as currently having more than 238 million views, X counts every account that is logged in and that has viewed a video post for longer than two seconds, with more than 50 percent of the video player in-view, as a “view.”
Additionally, X view counts may be amplified by multiple views of a post by a single account counting towards the total view count — the total actual watch numbers of the interview are unknown except to Tucker Carlson, who has access to the video’s analytics.
The real total watch number for the interview may be less or more than the live viewers of the Fox News debate.
[UPDATE: An earlier version of this story referred to the 200 million number labeled as “views” by X as actual views, when the real total view count is unknown — the 200 million figure means impressions.]
Carlson opened the interview by asking Trump why he was not in Milwaukee debating the rest of the GOP primary candidates.
“Well, you know, a lot of people have been asking me that. And many people said you shouldn’t do them,” Trump told Carlson. “But you see the polls have come out, and I’m leading by 50 and 60 points, and some of them are at one and zero and two.”
“And I’m saying, do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president? Should I be doing that?” Trump said.
At one point during Wednesday’s Fox News primary debate, airing at the same time as Carlson released his interview with Trump, host Bret Baier referred to Trump as “the elephant not in the room.”
“We’ll get bigger ratings using this crazy forum that you are using than probably the debate,” Trump told Carlson, at another point in the interview saying that Fox made a “terrible move” by firing him.
The former president also used the interview with Carlson as an opportunity to attack Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has fallen to a distant second place behind Trump in national polling.
“[Fox News was] backing Ron DeSanctimonious like crazy, and now they’ve given up on him, and he’s — it’s a lost cause,” Trump said of his second place opponent.
When asked by Carlson if he thought President Biden would be able to make it to the 2024 election, Trump called attention to Biden’s deteriorating mental and physical fitness.
“Well I think he’s worse mentally than he is physically, and physically he’s not exactly a triathlete, or any kind of athlete,” Trump said.
“There’s somebody in there that thinks he looks fabulous at the beach — I think he looks horrible at the beach,” he told Carlson.
The former commander-in-chief also called for an immediate end to the Russia-Ukraine war.
“That’s a war that should end immediately,” Trump said. “Not because of one side or the other, because hundreds of thousands of people are being killed.”
“It’s gotta be stopped, and it can be stopped very easily. If I were president, it would have never started,” he added.
Meanwhile, at the Fox News Republican primary debate, Vivek Ramaswamy was the only candidate to unequivocally say that he would not support the increase in funding to Ukraine.
“I would not. And I think that this is disasterous, that we are protecting against an invasion across somebody else’s border, when we should use those same military resources to prevent [against] the invasion of our own southern border here in the United States of America,” Ramaswamy said.