Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson reportedly won't allow criticism of his employer Fox News on his website. But prior to being hired as a contributor, he was one the network's biggest critics, calling Fox News “a mean, sick group of people” and The O'Reilly Factor a “shit” show hosted by “a thin-skinned blowhard.”
Blogger Mickey Kaus quit his job at the Caller after Carlson removed a column criticizing Fox News for purportedly “not being the opposition on immigration and amnesty.” (The conservative network has repeatedly attacked Obama's immigration reform plans, pushed falsehoods about immigration reform, and used anti-immigrant rhetoric.)
Kaus told Politico that Carlson told him he took down the post because “We can't trash Fox on the site. I work there.” Kaus added that “he told Carlson he needed to be able to write about Fox” and “Carlson told him it was a hard-and-fast rule, and non-negotiable.”
The blogger noted to Politico that Fox News has major influence on conservatives, stating: “It's a larger problem on the right: Everybody is scared of Fox ... Fox is their route to a high-profile public image and in some cases stardom. Just to be on a Fox show is a big deal.”
Carlson is an example of how landing on the Fox News payroll stifles conservative criticism of the network. The former CNN, MSNBC, and PBS anchor hosts the weekend edition of Fox & Friends. But prior to joining Fox as a contributor in 2009, he was one of Fox's fiercest critics.
In 2003, he called Fox News “a mean, sick group of people” after the network posted his unlisted home phone number in retaliation for saying Fox's Washington bureau number on CNN as a joke.
Carlson told Salon that year that “it's hard to imagine” that he could ever work for Fox News, citing that overseas “they're not watching Fox News Channel, they're watching CNN. I know it sounds trite, but I love the fact that CNN is engaged with the world.”
In response to a question about Fox personalities using “a blowhard, black-and-white approach that strictly follows a partisan line,” Carlson replied: “Well, what I think the problem is in general and, not just with Fox, but the genre, is that it encourages you to use a straw man ... We really try to be above that.” He added: “I don't like partisanship because it abets lying. And I think you burn out fast when you demagogue.”
Carlson has called Bill O'Reilly “a thin-skinned blowhard” and a “humorless phony.” He's said that “only masochists” would appear on or watch The O'Reilly Factor and “I don't know who would want to watch that shit. Do you?”
In his book A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity, O'Reilly wrote that Carlson “is a political commentator on TV who has not been very successful” and joked that his performance on Dancing with the Stars “should be airlifted to Guantanamo.”
Carlson was ahead of the curve on documenting O'Reilly's habit of embellishing his credentials as a war correspondent. Carlson wrote in his 2003 book that he sat on a panel with O'Reilly and he “began by trying to establish his own bona fides as a war correspondent. 'I've covered wars, okay? I've been there. The Falklands, Northern Ireland, the Middle East. I've almost been killed three times, okay?'”
Carlson noted that O'Reilly made the statement to an audience of “experienced journalists” who had “covered genuinely dangerous wars” and he “had just patronized them in the most ludicrous possible way.” More than a decade later, O'Reilly's claims about his reporting in the Falklands and Northern Ireland (where he now claims he only saw photos of bombings and injuries) would fall apart under scrutiny.
Carlson added that it's probably “been years since anyone” O'Reilly “works with has told O'Reilly to stop talking about himself so goddamn much.”