The media-excoriating Fox News host has anonymously shared gossip with at least 16 journalists, the Times says, spilling juicy details about the Trump administration, Fox News, and himself.
“In Trump’s Washington, Tucker Carlson is a primary supersecret source,” Michael Wolff, author of the early Trump-era exposé Fire and Fury, has written. “I know this because I know what he has told me, and I can track his exquisite, too-good-not-to-be-true gossip through unsourced reports and as it often emerges into accepted wisdom.”
It’s an incongruous role for Carlson, considering how mercilessly he criticizes the press. On his show, he regularly denounces the mainstream news media as biased, dishonest, and slavishly loyal to left-wing interests. In April, he compared the media to a lynch mob.
But behind the scenes, the Times says, he’s a frequent collaborator.
“It’s so unknown in the general public how much he plays both sides,” one unnamed reporter told the newspaper.
In one example, a Wall Street Journal reporter wrote a conspicuously detailed account of a private conversation between Carlson and then-president Donald Trump. It was just after the first presidential debate of 2020, during which Mr Trump infamously heckled and shouted over Joe Biden. Mr Trump was frantically calling Carlson, who sent the president’s calls to voicemail. Eventually, Carlson picked up the phone.
“Everyone says I did a good job,” Mr Trump allegedly told him.
“I don’t know who told you that was good,” Carlson reportedly replied. “It was not good.”
The WSJ reporter, Michael Bender, offers this precise retelling in his upcoming book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost. He does not say who his source was, but the Times strongly implies it was Carlson.
Meanwhile, Carlson continues to lambaste the press.
“The media is basically Praetorian Guard for the ruling class, the bodyguards for Jeff Bezos,” the pundit told Outkick in April. “I really hate them for it, I’ll be honest.”
He also denies that he’s a frequent source for Washington journalists, pointing out that he lives in Maine.
“I don’t know any gossip,” Carlson told the Times. “I live in a town of 100 people.”