Watch a 2003 Tucker Carlson complain about Bill O'Reilly's "deep phoniness"

In 2003 CSpan interviewed Tucker Carlson about his 2003 book, Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News. The interviewer said, "Another quote from your book: 'Bill O'Reilly's success is built on the perception that he really is who he claims to be. If he ever gets caught out of character, it's over.'"

Carlson answered, "That's right. I say before that that, you know, Bill O'Reilly is really talented. He's more talented than I am, you know, he's got a lot more viewers and he's a better communicator than I am. But I think there's kind of a deep phoniness at the center of his shtick. And again, as I say, this stick is sort of built on this perception that he is the character he plays. He is an everyman. He's not right-wing, he's a populist. This kind of Irish Catholic populist fighting for you against the powers that be, and that's great as a stick. But I'm just saying the moment that it's revealed not to be true. It's over. The moment he gets caught, you know, slapping a flight attendant on the Concorde for not bringing his champagne fast enough or barking at, you know, one of his subordinates to 'take the Brown M\&Ms Out of my bowl and get me a bottle of Evian!' or something like that. The second that makes Page Six, it's over, right? Because the whole thing is predicated on the fact that he is who he says he is. And just nobody is that person, especially not someone who makes a million dollars, you know, many millions a year."

But it turned out that O'Reilly's fans didn't care whether he was a phony or not. They continued to tune in even after news broke of his serial sexual harassment and uncontrolled anger. Similarly, Carlson's devoted viewers didn't seem to mind when it was revealed that he praised Trump on his show while complaining that he hated him and thought he was demonic off-air. In both cases, Fox News continued to welcome the hosts until they became a financial liability. As long as these hosts delivered ratings and upheld the network's conservative values, their personal behavior and opinions were of little concern to their loyal fanbase.