Tune in to Fox News long enough, and you’re bound to hear dismissive commentary about the New York Times — about how it’s agenda-driven, about how it peddles nonsense, about how it’s “fake news.” It’s a funny thing, though: The “failing” newspaper sure seemed to manage to drive its fair share of programming decisions this week at the No. 1 cable news network.

On Sunday, New York Times media columnist Ben Smith reported that Fox News host Tucker Carlson gossips frequently with reporters whom he collectively trashes on his highly rated weeknight program. None other than CNN’s Brian Stelter — whom Carlson had called a “eunuch,” among other insulting formulations — said that the host’s “fingerprints” were all over the hardcover edition of “Hoax,” Stelter’s 2020 book on Fox News. (An updated version came out earlier this month.) Sixteen other journalists attested to Carlson’s excellence as a source.

Fingers have been pointing in every direction: Did Stelter out a source with his “fingerprints” comment? Did those reporters err by confiding in Smith? Why would reporters trust Carlson, anyway?

Now the blame game has slithered inside the walls of Fox News itself. Mark Levin, a Fox News host speaking Thursday on his Westwood One radio show, seemed to take aim at Carlson without using his name. “I’ve been in this business almost 20 years. I worked in the Reagan administration for eight years. I never once, not once leaked anything to a newspaper or media outlet, ever — let alone the New York Times and their ilk. Certainly not about the people around me,” said Levin, who added that doing so amounts to “a serious misunderstanding of one’s role, of loyalty, and character.”

More: “I used to be approached by the likes of a Brian Stelter, Oliver Darcy at CNN. I never sat down with them, never leaked anything to them,” continued Levin, in what can be interpreted only as a shot directly at Carlson.

In explaining his forbearance from MSM gossip-mongering, Levin said that “this isn’t a game to me. I’m not positioning myself. This is deadly serious, this is the real world matters here. The real world matters here.” True conservatives, in other words, steer clear of the Stelter-Darcy crowd; less-than-true conservatives such as Carlson can’t resist the opportunity.

Also on Thursday, Sean Hannity found himself in the same thematic neighborhood. On Twitter that day, Hannity appeared a bit rankled by a squib written by Pop Bitch claiming that Carlson, in his hush-hush colloquies with mainstream reporters, enjoyed riffing on what a “cringing Trump sycophant” Hannity had become. Hannity tweeted: “.@benyt Benny (Mr Believer in the dirty Russian disinformation dossier) I absolutely love that the prestigious NYT is now tweeting out @Popbitch!! I LOVE IT! & Here is a Hannity ‘secret’ I don’t give a s[---] what anyone says about me.I do my show for my audience loudly & proudly.”

On his program, Hannity said, “Now, the big news is that some people at Fox apparently don’t like me and said bad things about me gutlessly behind my back, according to Ben Smith, to the members of the media mob.” (Boldface added to note the second time in a single day that two of the toughest-sounding hard-right guys in America couldn’t pluck up the courage to name the person they were attacking.)

But yes: If Carlson is indeed snarking about Hannity’s loyalty to Trump in whispers to media reporters, that’s gutless. Especially because Carlson himself carries just as much water for the former president; he simply does a better job of camouflaging his toadyism.

Speaking of Hannity, he took an unusual interest in the Times’s Smith this week, blasting him on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. “Years of fake news surrounding something that never happened, and that was Trump, Russia collusion, and the conspiracy theory that they peddled almost every single day, which was derived from an actual Russian disinformation campaign bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and published, publicly released and publicly believed by New York Times writer, whatever it is, columnist, because he’s not a journalist: Ben Smith himself,” Hannity said on Thursday night.

Viewers of “Hannity” might have been asking themselves: Who’s this Ben Smith guy, again? The former BuzzFeed editor, after all, hadn’t been mentioned on the program since March 2020, according to a Nexis search. Yet two opinion pieces this week appeared on the Fox News website under Hannity’s byline posing questions for Smith and his employer, plus Trump scoopster Maggie Haberman. If Hannity really has such little regard for the Times, why does he allow it to program his week?

Meanwhile: We posed a number of questions for Fox News about all these events. They included whether management was addressing the tumult within the hosting ranks, whether contracts for talent such as Carlson have anything to say about back-channeling to outside media organizations and whether Fox News supports Carlson in light of the week’s developments. We’ve yet to receive a response.

The backbiting shouldn’t much disrupt Fox News, so long as the network stays ahead of its rivals in the ratings and the money keeps coming in, that is. And the notion that Carlson is alienating colleagues — well, that can’t come as much of a surprise after how he treated Shep Smith, the truth-telling afternoon anchor who departed in October 2019 after a public feud with Carlson.

Who could have predicted that the guy who says immigrants make the country “dirtier,” stokes racial fear and resentment, bullies those who disagree with him and spreads covid disinformation wouldn’t be a team player?