On Wednesday night, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed former president Donald Trump on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Now, Trump and his supporters are claiming that Carlson’s video has received hundreds of millions of views on Elon Musk’s social media site. That’s not the case.
“The Tucker Carlson Interview with me was a BLOCKBUSTER. Could hit 200,000,000 Views, and more!” Donald Trump posted on his social networking platform, Truth Social, on Thursday morning.
Trump later claimed that, at 230 million views, the Carlson video was now: “The Biggest Video on Social Media, EVER, more than double the Super Bowl!” (For context, the 2023 Super Bowl was watched by more than 115 million viewers.)
On Carlson’s interview post on X, the views metric displayed 236 million views, as of the time of publishing, since it went live 21 hours ago.
However, the metric on X is not how many views Carlson’s video actually received.
Mashable can report that, as of the publication of this article on Thursday evening, Carlson’s Trump interview has received 14.8 million video views on X.
On X, it’s not entirely clear to most users what the views metric refers to — many people believe, falsely, that the video of Carlson’s Trump interview received 220 million views more than it actually received.
A Mashable screenshot showing the actual video view count for Tucker Carlson’s Trump interview, as seen on an older version of the Twitter app. This metric is no longer public on X.
Why the discrepancy?
The views metric currently shown on X, displayed simply as “views,” are tweet views.
This number shows how many impressions a tweet receives. An impression is counted when a user actively goes to the tweet page or when a tweet appears in a user’s timeline after being retweeted by another user. Views are also counted when a tweet shows up on a user’s timeline via the recommendation algorithm. As such, a single user can be counted multiple times in the view count.
On the other hand, video views, which are no longer publicly displayed on X, count the number of times a piece of media content is played on the platform —although there are a few addendums to this metric. A video view on X is counted if the media plays for two or more seconds. And, if a user attempts to scroll past a video, but more than 50 percent of the player is still visible on the screen for that time frame, a video view is still counted. Autoplays are counted as well.
To break down what this means for Tucker Carlson’s Trump interview: The video itself was actually played only 14.8 million times, for at least two seconds of the more than 46-minute interview — or just over six percent of the total 236 million times someone saw the post on X.
As Mashable previously reported, under Musk, Twitter began removing the public video view count in May. The move came months after Musk added a “views” count metric to users’ tweets. For a time, tweets displayed both metrics, which led to confusion about how many views a video actually received. Users often used the higher, albeit inaccurate, tweet view number to make their content seem more popular. Twitter then decided to quietly remove the smaller, albeit more accurate, number from public display. The company never announced the removal of the metric or gave an official reason as to why it was removed.
However, some older Android versions of the Twitter app continue to display the public video view metrics on X. Mashable has access to such a version of the app and was able to pull this data from it.
How does Trump’s interview stack up on X?
Tucker Carlson made headline news when he launched a new show on Musk’s platform shortly after his sudden departure from Fox News in April. However, the show, Tucker Carlson on X, was seeing a continuous decline in views episode after episode for months before bringing on some big guests over the summer.
For example, in July, Carlson brought on controversial right-wing influencer Andrew Tate for an episode. As of publication, that video has 17.9 million views on X. It has 107 million tweet views, or impressions.
This means that, with less than half the impressions Carlson’s Trump interview has received so far, his Tate interview has garnered over 3 million more video views. Carlson’s show on X routinely showed impressions of around five to six times more than the actual video views per episode. However, for Carlson’s Trump interview, the ratio of impressions to actual video views is nearly 17:1
Carlson’s big Trump interview was promoted as counter-programming to Wednesday night’s first Republican primary debate of the year, one that the GOP frontrunner Trump skipped. Musk himself shared the interview with his more than 153 million X followers.
According to media reporter Brian Stelter, the GOP debate itself averaged 12.8 million viewers on Fox News and its online streams during the two-hour broadcast. And, of course, cable ratings are counted differently than online video views. That number is how many viewers were watching within an average minute of content.
Trump’s supporters, using X’s public view count data, have touted the Carlson interview as a big success. However, the real video view data – the numbers that Musk and company actively now hide from public view – paint a very different picture.