One of Reporters' Best Sources Is Their Biggest Critic

Tucker Carlson loves giving the inside scoop to journalists, writes Ben Smith
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2021 8:11 AM CDT
Tucker Carlson Berates Media, but He's a Frequent Source
Tucker Carlson, host of "Tucker Carlson Tonight."   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Tucker Carlson is always going after journalists, the group he has described as "cringing animals who are not worthy of respect." But in his latest media column for the New York Times, Ben Smith writes about what he calls one of DC's "open secrets"—Carlson is also one of the best off-the-record sources in the industry. The Fox host "spends his time when he's not denouncing the liberal media trading gossip with them," writes Smith, who counts himself among Carlson's texting pals. "He's the go-to guy for sometimes-unflattering stories about Donald J. Trump and for coverage of the internal politics of Fox News (not to mention stories about Mr. Carlson himself)." Smith interviewed 16 journalists (none from the Times, to avoid conflicts of interest), who all agreed that Carlson is a "great source."

The column digs into Carlson's well-connected background and suggests that his cozy relationship with journalists softens coverage about him—in contrast to, say, the coverage of a Fox predecessor, Glenn Beck. "If you open yourself up as a resource to mainstream media reporters, you don't even have to ask them to go soft on you," one journalist tells Smith. He ends the column with a quote from Michael Wolff (a Newser founder), who describes Carlson as a "primary supersecret source" in Trump-era DC. "Too many times to count, after someone's confidence, I've asked, 'Did that come from Tucker?'" Wolff writes in an essay in his book Too Famous. "And equally, after I've shared a juicy detail, I've been caught out myself: 'So ... you've been speaking to Tucker.'" (Read the full Smith column.)

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