According to Ben Smith at the New York Times, Tucker Carlson has been playing both sides. Despite the fact that he most recently referred to the mainstream media as “cringing animals who or not worthy of respect,” Carlson regularly exchanges texts with reporters, providing insider Washington info and sourcing political news. In other words, when Carlson isn’t denouncing the “liberal media” he’s trading gossip with them.
It has long been an open “supersecret” in Washington that Carlson, proud traitor of the elite political class, is the go-to guy for sometimes-unflattering stories about Trump, himself, and internal politics at Fox News. If not said, it is implied that in return for being a “great source,” mainstream media will go easy on Carlson, despite his disgusting behavior. They’re not sure whether Carlson is really a xenophobic racist or just plays one on tv.
Carlson’s nightly average of 3,000,000 viewers made him someone who mattered to Trump, positioning him as a great source. Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s upcoming book includes a moment where Carlson sends Trump’s calls to voicemail after the debate for which he was criticized for repeatedly interrupting Joe Biden. When Trump finally reaches Carlson, he says, “Everyone says I did a good job.” Carlson responded, “I don’t know who told you that was good. It was not good.” You have to assume Carlson was the source, since Trump certainly would not be. Yet this conversation is so contrary to how Carlson and Fox News would spin the debate. Apparently, this happens quite frequently behind-the-scenes.
In his 2018 book, “Fire and Fury,” Michael Wolf wrote that he knows Carlson is a primary source because “I can track his exquisite, too-good-to-be-true gossip through unsourced reports and as it often emerges into accepted wisdom.”
Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” told Smith, “You can see Tucker’s fingerprints all over the hardcover” of his book, “Hoax,” excoriating Fox News for amplifying Trump’s lies. Stelter said he “couldn’t stomach” talking to Carlson, who has grown more and more revolting, for the updated paperback version.