Tucker Carlson says he never intentionally misleads his audience and tries his “very hardest” to be truthful, but regrets that when he’s riled up on a topic, “I do tend to overstate.”
The host of the highest-rated nightly cable television show made the comments Thursday in an interview with Semafor editor-in-chief Ben Smith.
“When I screw it up, I correct it immediately if it’s a factual error. If my views on things change, I say that. I don’t pretend I didn’t used to think that. I admit it,” he said. “I mean, it’s hard for me to lie about it anyways because we have YouTube. But I, just as a matter of conscience, try to do that anyways.”
Carlson contended that viewers might notice him “making mistakes,” but never “lying on purpose.”
“When I get pissed, I do tend to overstate. I regret that. But, I don’t lie,” he said.
Carlson clashed with Smith at several points during the interview, calling him a “propagandist” at one point for trying to redirect the interview. Toward the end of the conversation, Smith wondered aloud if Fox News’ ratings have now pigeonholed Carlson as a talk show host.
Fox News continues to be the highest-rated network in cable news, averaging about 2 million viewers or more during primetime each night. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” tends to lead the key demographics each night, but the host insisted on Thursday that he doesn’t pay attention to his ratings.
“I don’t know what my ratings are. I’m never thinking about ratings,” he said. “I don’t know how to read a ratings chart. Ask anyone who works for me or has worked with me. I never look at the ratings. I’m not on the ratings email. I’m not even on email.”
“But you’re in the ratings business, fundamentally,” Smith replied, to which Carlson doubled down: “Slow down — I don’t know what my ratings are, and I mean that. You may not believe me. I don’t own a TV, that’s true.”
Carlson also said his show – and the messaging he sends to the largest nightly audience in television – are virtually independent of Fox News corporate influence.
“I don’t clear anything with anybody,” he said. “I file my scripts late.”
You can watch the entire conversation here.