Iran’s missile strike on military bases housing U.S. troops on Tuesday brought Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” its highest ratings since the show’s launch in 2016.
According to Nielsen Media Research, 5.6 million viewers tuned into the show as news of the attack broke.
U.S. and Iraqi officials said the attack caused no casualties.
The missiles were launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani.
“I think that this is the biggest test for President Trump as a leader,” Baier said. He reminded viewers that Donald Trump had campaigned on getting troops out of the Middle East.
Carson said, “My sense is that the president, he is not interested in some kind of a protractive war with Iran, certainly not a ground war. … His instincts are restraint.”
Baier countered that although that is what Trump campaigned on, his rhetoric on Twitter and elsewhere tells a different story. How those two different messages are resolved “is the key moment for this president as commander-in-chief,” he said.
Soleimani and his Quds Force were “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more,” according to the Department of Defense.
“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. … He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel,” the Pentagon said.
During his Monday show, however, Carlson criticized U.S. leaders for “having a built-in bias for war.”
“Just a month ago, not one in 100 Americans was thinking about Iran,” he said. “Now, suddenly, we are on the brink of war. In Washington, that is considered an upgrade, indeed a massive improvement. It’s harder to get rich and powerful in Washington during peacetime.”
Carlson also questioned the intelligence community’s assessment that Iran and Soleimani were an imminent threat.
“Keep in mind, these are the people who invented excuses to spy on the Trump campaign purely because they didn’t like Donald Trump’s foreign policy views, and they’re the ones who pretended he was a Russian agent in order to keep him from governing,” Carlson said.
“Our friends in the intel community did that,” he said. “And by the way, these are the same people who lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction way back in 2002, and by doing that they got us into an utterly pointless war that dramatically weakened our country.
“The people pushing conflict with Iran are the same people who did that.”
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” closely followed Fox News’ “Hannity,” which brought in 5.7 million viewers on the same night. Both shows scored 0.8 ratings in the adults 18-49 demographic.
In 2019, the average audience for “Hannity” was 3.3 million and the average audience for “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was 3.1 million, The Hill reported.
According to Nielsen Media Research’s numbers, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” drew more viewers Tuesday than CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” which brought in 2.9 million viewers and 3.4 million viewers, respectively.
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