Rupert Murdoch’s news network parted company with the right-wing TV host on Monday, days after Fox News agreed to pay $787.5m to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation lawsuit over election lies amplified by the channel’s personalities.
Mr Carlson broke his silence over his exit from Fox News in a defiant and conspiracy-laced video he posted to Twitter on Wednesday evening at 8pm, his former primetime slot on the channel.
And the conspiracy-driven video had more than 1.8 million views in the hour after its release, with more than 5 million people seeing it on their timeline on Elon Musk’s social media app, according to Mediaite.
By 1pm ET on Thursday, the video had been directly watched by 17.3 million users, and seen on the timeline of 57.8 million.
Meanwhile, the latest data for Fox News in the 8pm slot on Tuesday 25 April is that replacement host Brian Kilmeade drew just 1.7 million viewers. That is well below the 3.3 million viewers that Mr Carlson averaged in the slot.
The metrics of TV ratings and Twitter user data are obviously not a like-for-like comparison but do indicate the popularity of Carlson as a conservative media star.
Fox News defended its ratings in an emailed statement to The Independent.
“According to Nielsen Media Research, at 8PM/ET FOX News Channel was still the most-watched cable news network in total viewers. Additionally, FOX News continues to be highest-rated cable news channel in viewers and the younger demo,” stated Fox News.
Mr Carlson’s two-minute video was defiant and took veiled shots at Fox News and the mainstream American media industry.
Mr Carlson said in the video that after being “outside the noise for a few days” he realised how “unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are,” calling them “completely irrelevant” and insisting that they “mean nothing.”
“In five years we won’t even remember that we had them,” he said, adding, “Trust me as someone who has participated.”
He said that the “undeniably big topics that define our future” such as “war, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic change, corporate power, natural resources” were not given “legitimate debate” in the US.
“Debates like that are not permitted in American media. Both political parties and their donors have reached a consensus on what benefits them and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it,” he said.
Mr Carlson said that the result was that America “suddenly looks very much like a one-party state” and called it a “depressing realisation” that “wasn’t permanent.”
“Our current orthodoxies won’t last. They are brain dead, nobody actually believes them, hardly anyone’s life is improved by them,” he continued. “This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue and so it won’t. The people in charge know this and that is why they are hysterical and aggressive, they are afraid. They have given up persuasion and they are resorting to force. But it won’t work. When honest people say what’s true calmly and without embarrassment they become powerful. At the same time, the liars who have been trying to silence them shrink and they become weaker, that is the iron law of the universe. True things prevail. Where can you still find Americans saying true things? There aren’t many places left but there are some, and that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words there’s hope.”
He finished the video by signing off, “See you soon.”