Former Fox host Tucker Carlson announced this week that he will launch a “new version” of Tucker Carlson Tonight to be available on Twitter, which he is now heralding as one of the only platforms to allow free speech. In the show’s six-year run on Fox News, however, Carlson spent years falsely criticizing Twitter for censorship of right-wing figures, including after Elon Musk acquired the platform.
In his video announcement posted on Tuesday evening to his Twitter account, Carlson stated that “speech is the fundamental prerequisite for democracy” and called Twitter “the last big” platform to allow free speech. In response, Twitter CEO Musk clarified that there has not been an official partnership between the company and Carlson, who “is subject to the same rules & rewards of all content creators.”
Despite Carlson’s recent high praise, he has consistently made both small digs and major criticisms of Twitter throughout his years hosting Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox, falsely claiming the platform was censoring and “shadow-banning” conservative voices. (Media Matters and others have repeatedly debunked these claims.) These attacks continued even after Musk’s acquisition of the company last October, with Carlson claiming in March that the platform was “deliberating silencing reporting” on a 4chan anti-trans hoax:
Here is how Carlson has criticized the platform in the past:
- Carlson hosted right-wing author and “COVID contrarian” Alex Berenson on January 9 to announce that he would be suing Pfizer and Twitter for supposedly censoring him.
- On January 10, Carlson claimed that Twitter and cable news “functioned as a mouthpiece for the FBI and the spy agencies,” and “that is a graver threat to our democracy than any group of Trump voters who wandered around the Capitol on January 6. It’s not even close.”
- On February 2, Carlson hosted James Lawrence, attorney of a pro-Trump influencer who was convicted for spreading false information to mislead Hillary Clinton voters in the 2016 presidential election. Lawrence praised Carlson as “one of the first public figures and one of the most prominent people to criticize Twitter for deplatforming people over so-called disinformation.”
- While appearing on the April 17 episode of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Carlson said Twitter was used by government spy agencies as “a honey trap to surveil people and then to propagate propaganda.”
- Responding to Twitter suspending The Babylon Bee for a transphobic headline about Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, Carlson complained, “I hope it ends with Twitter being shut down by Congress, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.”
- Carlson reported on the Twitter Files and supposed “Big Tech” collusion with the government to censor conservatives and “subvert the outcome” of elections, stating, “What Twitter did is a violation of the First Amendment as well as of established campaign finance law. They never declared those contributions to the Biden campaign. That's a crime.”
- Carlson claimed that Twitter had been “banning people without their knowledge, shadow-banning them, and lying about it. Elon Musk today confirmed that Twitter did this to candidates for office, so that’s election interference." Carlson called Twitter’s alleged actions “an attack on democracy at the most basic level, it’s probably illegal.”
- Carlson speculated that “Twitter has been functioning as the arm of government intel agencies, and clearly it has been,” by concealing information about “big, history-shaping events” such as “the theft of incriminating emails behind the DNC — what was that story — the motive behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine and much, much more.” He then noted Musk possessed “the most significant trove of secret information ever to reside in private hands.”
- Commenting on Donald Trump’s Twitter ban, Carlson said that “Silicon Valley oligarchs are more powerful than the president of the United States. And they want you to know it.”
- Carlson claimed that Twitter “proves that the tech monopolies are even worse than we thought,” calling it “an independent nation-state with its own National Security Council, an inner agency constellation of foreign policy experts whose job it is to manage the world's affairs.”
- Carlson claimed that Twitter “received checks from the Chinese government totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars” to suppress information about the origins of COVID-19.
- As pointed out by Daily Beast reporter Justin Baragona, “Tucker Carlson not only urges Alex Berenson to ‘sue the crap out of these totalitarians,’ but he also tells Berenson that he wants ‘to fund’ his lawsuit against Twitter. ‘I do. I mean that.’”
- Responding to Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy’s complaints against Twitter, Carlson stated that social media platforms’ policies for “shadow-banning is the stealthiest way, the most passive-aggressive, feline, creepy way to do it.”
- Carlson diminished the impact of misinformation coming from Trump and Infowars' Alex Jones. Instead, he deflected blame to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “way crazier than any of the people that have been banned from Twitter that we’re aware of.”
- In the beginning of the pandemic, Carlson attacked Twitter for cracking down on COVID-19 misinformation, stating that “Twitter has decided to control what you are allowed to know about the coronavirus.”
- Carlson blamed Twitter for fact-checking Trump’s false tweet about mail-in votes, complaining, “It is so infuriating that the Congress has done nothing to protect the public from censorship, that it's hard to even express it out loud. It's really shameful, in my view. How can you have a free and fair election when opinions are being aggressively censored to favor one side?”
- Carlson accused Twitter of paying off Congress to avoid regulations and criticized the platform for fact-checking misinformation. He alleged that the company “routinely purges users for simply having the wrong political views.”
- Carlson urged Trump to attack Twitter and other tech companies for censorship: “Should Americans need the approval of some tech billionaire in order to exercise their freedom of speech online? We won't know for sure until the administration pushes back against digital censorship. Facebook and Google and Twitter would likely respond with legal challenges. Let them. Fighting for speech is always the right fight.”
- Carlson complained that anyone concerned about immigration who doubts that “huge groups of people with nothing in common can share the same country” is banned from Twitter.
- In a segment on “Tech Tyranny,” Carlson argued that Twitter and other social media companies “aren't open platforms. They are censors. They are happy to ban and silence anyone they dislike, usually on political grounds.”
- Carlson called Twitter “a tiny, foul-smelling sewer where unhappy people share their fever dreams” with “disgusting” rhetoric.
- Speaking with then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Carlson argued that “It's hard to think of a company that has hurt this country more than Twitter. Maybe there are some, I can’t think of one. … They should be ashamed of themselves.”
- Carlson claimed that Twitter and other social media companies “work in secret to impose a left-wing political agenda on this country.”
- After Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said he was submitting an Federal Election Commission complaint against Twitter, Carlson said, “Twitter is a fairly small player in this world. It's a failing company anyway.”
- Carlson called out Twitter for banning Infowars’ Alex Jones but not Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, stating, “We do not have a problem with free speech, we support it strongly, we just wish Twitter would extend the same courtesy to people who aren't Democratic stalwarts like Louis Farrakhan.”
- Carlson hosted conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson to attack Twitter for supposedly defining the boundaries of the First Amendment. Hanson claimed, “You especially are one nano-second away from having your head electronically chopped off,” to which Carlson responded, “Everyday I think that.”
- Carlson hosted far-right pundit Jesse Kelly to complain about getting kicked off Twitter and to attack other journalists for not speaking up when Alex Jones was banned.
- Carlson claimed Twitter was trying to silence Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins after a racist column. He asked, “What happened to your island which gave the world freedom of speech and was the embodiment of pluck and of vigor and toughness and self-sufficiency and took over the whole world. Now you are being called a hate criminal and Twitter is trying to censor you. What happened exactly?”
- Carlson included Twitter in a list of companies in “Silicon Valley” that try to “control what you see and think,” arguing that the company “censors anti-abortion tweets.”
- Carlson attacked Twitter for censoring a pro-life video from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), claiming that “Facebook, Google, and Twitter have blocked content willy-nilly and continue to and nobody does anything about it.”