Fox News cuts away from Trump’s speech as he boasts about Tucker Carlson interview

Fox News abruptly cut away from Donald Trump's rally speech in South Carolina when the former president began insulting the network's ratings and boosting its former top host, Tucker Carlson.

Mr Trump campaigned in South Carolina on Monday, and Fox News carried his speech uninterrupted for 20 minutes.

Just after 3.10pm EST, Mr Trump began speaking about the "ridiculous debates that nobody's watching," referencing Fox News' first Republican presidential primary debate.

Mr Trump skipped that debate, and made sure everyone knew he was going to snub the event.

He called the debate "the lowest rated debate in history," which is a nonsense statistic, before reminding the crowd that he decided to spend his evening with another conservative media figure.

"I was someplace else," Mr Trump said. "I was doing another interview. We had 271 million people listening to the Tucker Carlson interview, that's an all-time high."

That is a questionable claim. In the US, fewer than 75 million people voted for Mr Trump in the 2020 election. Though X/Twitter — where Carlson hosts his show — does have a global reach, it seems extremely unlikely that nearly four times as many people watched their interview as voted for Mr Trump.

What Mr Trump is describing as a view is more akin to a social media impression, which is counted whether a user watches the interview or simply scrolls past it, seeing it for just a moment on their phone screen.

On X/Twitter, a view “simply is a record of each time a person (or bot) scrolls past a tweet,” according to Mediaite's reporting.

Either way, the reference to Carlson, who Fox News fired earlier this year in the wake of their settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, was enough to convince someone at the network that 20 minutes of uninterrupted speech coverage was enough.

"Here we are, back in the thick of campaign season..." Fox News host Martha MacCallum began, breaking in over the former president's boasting.

According to Fox News, its debate — which was broadcast on Fox Nation, Fox Business, and Fox News Digital — drew 13 million viewers across all platforms and was the “highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of 2023 and topping more than 70 per cent of all presidential primary debates in the last two cycles (2016 and 2020)."