Former White House adviser Neil Patel is working with Tucker Carlson in his effort to raise funds to start a new media company. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the business could “potentially use Twitter as its backbone,” citing people familiar with the matter.
Carlson, fired by Fox News in April in the wake of the $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems over spreading misinformation following the 2020 election, has been airing commentary in videos posted to Twitter since May.
But the opportunities for turning millions of views into cash are limited, particularly since the actual engagement he is getting in terms of “likes” and retweets is far lower. A lengthy interview with controversial influencer Andrew Tate posted Tuesday, for instance, got a purported 72.9 million views, but just 373,600 “likes” and 93,400 retweets.
Twitter reportedly started paying content creators this week, with some influencers pulling in $10,000 or more, but that pales in comparison to the up to $20 million a year Carlson was getting from Fox.
Carlson and Patel are aiming to drum up hundreds of millions of dollars to back their venture, which would “ultimately be driven by subscriptions,” The Journal reported.
Like many other ventures that rely on social media distribution, the concept would be for Twitter and other platforms to offer free, short versions of Carlson’s show, along with interviews and documentaries, but would need a subscription to access all of the content he offers, The Journal said. Eventually, the company would add additional hosts and shows, featured on its website and mobile app as well as social media.
Patel, the co-founder and publisher of the far-right news site “Daily Caller,” who worked in the George W. Bush White House in various roles, ending with chief policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney, has a long history with Carlson that dates to their college days, when they were roommates at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
The Journal reported that “they have lined up financiers, lawyers and media strategists to work on the new company,” citing people familiar with the effort. Carlson’s team also met with Twitter in recent weeks to discuss the plans, the report said.
Carlson’s new company would enter a crowded field, competing not only with other sites launched by high profile personalities, including Glenn Beck’s Blaze Media, where today he is slated to host a series of interviews with five Republican presidential candidates, and other established right-wing sites like Daily Wire, the Washington Times and Breitbart News, but also with his former employer, Fox, and growing networks like Newsmax.
The Journal noted that any association with Twitter could serve as a test for owner Elon Musk’s video ambitions for the site.
A connection with Carlson could also ruffle the feathers of potential advertisers who are contemplating returning to the site after rushing for the exits following Musk’s takeover. New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, recruited from NBCU to try to lure advertisers and creators back, recently met with Carlson producer Justin Wells, The Journal reported.
While at Fox, Carlson’s show had suffered from a mass exodus of advertisers thanks to his highly charged content.