Like many other conservatives, Fox News host Tucker Carlson gushed over Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter during his show on Monday night, heralding the development as a win for free speech. In fact, Carlson’s show claimed, Musk was working his magic already by freeing the Fox host himself from his Twitter chains!
The thing about Carlson’s supposed liberation, though, is that Musk had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Even though Musk won’t actually have control over Twitter’s operations for at least three months, a gleeful Carlson told his viewers during his opening monologue that “[a]fter today, you’ll be able to post your dissent in a place where other people might have a reasonable chance of seeing it.”
“So you just became a little more powerful,” the Fox News host declared. “The people already in charge just became a little less powerful. It’s that simple and it’s that profound.”
Carlson’s show then highlighted the profoundness of the moment in the form of a chyron pointing at his Twitter account, which had been temporarily frozen in March over a transphobic tweet that labeled Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine, who is a transgender woman, a man.
The Monday night chyron declared “UNSHACKLED BY ELON MUSK” above “FREE SPEECH IS RESTORED; @TUCKERCARLSON BACK ON TWITTER.” The same chyron appeared again near the end of the monologue. Carlson did not verbally comment on his account during his opening speech.
But exactly one hour before his show began, Carlson’s Twitter account announced a triumphant return:
However, it’s become clear that Carlson’s purported freedom from Big Tech censorship at the hands of Saint Musk was nothing but theater.
First of all, Musk doesn’t have the power to make decisions about anyone’s account yet. The billionaire’s deal with Twitter hasn’t been closed and isn’t expected to be until at least three months from now, according to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal, who reportedly told his employees that he’ll be staying in his role in the interim.
Secondly, Carlson’s account became unlocked long before Musk bought the social media platform.
The Fox host’s Twitter account got locked on March 22 after he posted a screenshot of tweets from the right-wing website the Babylon Bee and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, which both purposefully misgendered Levine.
“But wait. Both these tweets are true,” Carlson wrote with the screenshot.
Twitter locked Carlson’s account for violating the platform’s rules on hateful conduct and informed the Fox host that his time-out would be over if he deleted the tweet, prompting Carlson to rant about “censorship” on his program the next day.
Mediaite reported on March 23 that the tweet had been removed, allowing Carlson to freely post to his heart’s content.
However, the account stayed silent for more than a month until it posted about being “back” on Monday night, giving the false impression that free speech champion Musk had cast off Carlson’s shackles.
On an unrelated note, Carlson’s own lawyers have argued that the Fox host shouldn’t be expected to give “actual facts” about whatever he’s blustering over.