Reporter Says It's an 'Open Secret' Tucker Carlson Is an Insider Source for Many Journalists

A New York Times column alleges that the Fox News personality is an oft-used source for journalists, despite recently saying he is "disgusted" with the media — as he denies the story

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson. Photo: Rich Polk/Getty

While he often uses segments on his Fox news show to mock members of the media, Tucker Carlson has himself been one of the biggest sources in his industry, according to a new column by The New York Times' Ben Smith.

According to Smith, Carlson is a "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 also quotes writer Michael Wolff's forthcoming book, which contains further references to Carlson's reported penchant for acting as an anonymous source to journalists.

"In Trump's Washington, Tucker Carlson is a primary supersecret source," Smith quotes Wolff writing in his upcoming book. "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."

Carlson's reported chumminess with reporters is especially head-turning considering the way he publicly casts members of the media, whether in interviews or on-air during his nightly Fox News program.

In an April interview with the Fox-owned site Outkick, Carlson said he was "disgusted" with the media, calling mainstream reporters "animals" and "cowards."

As Smith suggests in his Times column, the strong condemnation of journalists may be something of an act: "Mr. Carlson, a proud traitor to the elite political class, spends his time when he's not denouncing the liberal media trading gossip with them," Smith writes.

Though he doesn't reveal the contents of his own off-the-record conversations with Carlson, Smith adds that he regularly exchanges text messages with the television host.

CNN's Brian Stelter, also quoted in the piece, suggested that Carlson served as a source for his book, Hoax, which is about Fox News. Stelter tells Smith: "You can see Tucker's fingerprints all over the hardcover."

Smith writes that 16 other journalists - none of which he says work for the Times - have told him they've used Carlson as a source for their reporting.

Carlson himself dismissed the claims that he was a reliable source for insider information, texting Smith: "I don't know any gossip. I live in a town of 100 people."

Fox News didn't offer further clarification when asked for comment by PEOPLE.

More generally, the network's public relations head told the Times it's "not really surprising for anyone who works in media to talk to the press."

No stranger to controversy, Carlson often draws rebuke for divisive remarks made on his show. In March, the host said new uniforms for pregnant service members made "a mockery of the U.S. military," drawing backlash from military leaders and veterans alike.

Carlson also previously mocked the relationship between President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden and drew condemnation for making dangerously false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

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