Trump misleadingly claims his Tucker Carlson interview got nearly 20 times more viewers than the GOP debate

Mr Trump boasts of beating ‘Oprah and Michael Jackson’, but video viewing figures on social media platform X are misleading

Bevan Hurley
Friday 25 August 2023 16:30 BST
Trump brands Pence a ‘conveyor belt’ over 2020 election conspiracy

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Donald Trump has boasted that 250 million people watched his interview with Tucker Carlson, nearly 20 times the viewing figures for the GOP presidential primary debate.

But the claim doesn’t tell the full picture.

Video metrics on Elon Musk’s rebranded social media platform X register a view if a user watches only a few seconds of a clip, or simply scrolls past it on their phone.

“Anyone who is logged into Twitter who views a Tweet counts as a view, regardless of where they see the Tweet... or whether or not they follow the author,” the site states.

Mr Trump’s 46-minute interview with Mr Carlson was posted to X minutes before his eight rivals for the Republican presidential nomination took to the stage in the first debate in a massive snub to Ruper Murdoch’s rightwing cable channel.

“231,000,000 views and counting,” Mr Trump wrote on his social media platform on Thursday.

By Friday morning, the number had passed 254 million. Mr Trump went on to falsely claim it was the “biggest video on social media EVER, more than double the Super Bowl!”

He also boosted a post claiming his ratings had topped Oprah and Michael Jackson interviews.

The two hour GOP primary debate debate broadcast on Fox News and Fox Business attracted 12.8 million views, according to Nielsen ratings data.

Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson prior to their interview on Wednesday night
Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson prior to their interview on Wednesday night (@TuckerCarlson/X)

That was higher than most debates in the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns. The first GOP primary debate in 2015, which Mr Trump appeared on, drew 24 million viewers to double the previous record.

The network said it was the “highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of 2023”.

CNN and MSNBC also enjoyed a boost in ratings for their post-debate coverage.

In the 11pm to 1am time slot, MSNBC drew 2.1 million average viewers, while CNN attracted 1.2 million.

The fiery debate featured eight candidates, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

On Thursday, Mr Trump turned himself into Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, where he was booked and had his mugshot taken on charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the Georgia presidential election.

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