Shep Smith is out at Fox News: Conservatives agree it's about time

After 23 years as one of the most prominent on-air personalities at the Fox News channel, left-wing program host Shepard Smith made the surprise announcement at the end of his program Shepard Smith Reporting on Friday afternoon that he is leaving the channel immediately (Fox News video here).  Only minutes before, Fox News Media Relations emailed a news release to journalists, including this one, titled "Shepard Smith to Step Down from FOX News."  The release was attributed to an unusually high-level source at the channel, Irena Briganti, the executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News and Fox Business Network.  Like Smith, Briganti has been with Fox News since it launched in 1996.


Shepard Smith announces he's leaving Fox News, 3:58 P.M. E.T., Oct. 11, 2019.
Screen grab by Peter Barry Chowka.

The news about Smith's sudden exit stunned almost everyone, including Fox News host Neil Cavuto, whose live program immediately followed Smith's on-air announcement.  As the Washington Examiner transcribed it:

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto appeared momentarily stunned at the beginning of his show after hearing that his colleague Shepard Smith's last day at the network was Friday[.][ ...

"Woah. I'm Neil Cavuto and like you, I'm a little stunned and a little heartbroken. I don't know what to say. Shepard Smith, as I said, just a few days ago on this very network, a decent human being, a heart as big as Texas. I didn't say Texas at the time, maybe just all of Manhattan. Wow. I don't know. ... A better newsman, you probably cannot find. Again, a bigger more emotionally connected to humankind, you cannot find. So Shepard, I don't know what the heck you are planning to do or where you will go, but I just know you will be great at doing it and you deserve the best that life has to offer. So, I'm sorry if I'm a little shell-shocked here, but I'm going to miss my buddy. All right. Onto the news at hand, as Shepard would say because breaking news does change everything, and we've got a lot of it going on right now.

The Washington Examiner noted that Cavuto's shock and dismay at Smith's sudden departure was shared by other colleagues at Fox News:

A number of other Fox News personalities, including fellow anchor Bret Baier and senior White House correspondent John Roberts, also expressed their surprise at the news. Roberts appeared on Cavuto's show in the opening segment and called the news "completely shocking" and said it felt like he was "hit by a subway train."


The Drudge Report headlines Shepard Smith's departure Friday afternoon and evening.

It was just two weeks ago that the long simmering enmity between Fox News channel news personnel and opinion hosts, which I first reported in an article at American Thinker on March 19, 2018, broke out wide into the open, when Smith and prime-time conservative host Tucker Carlson got into an on-air dust-up that made headlines.  Their disagreement, which involved Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano and prominent conservative Washington, D.C. attorney Joseph diGenova, concerned radically differing interpretations of the legality of President Donald Trump's phone conversation with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky last July 25 — an event that has become the raison d'être for the Democrats' move to impeach the president in the House of Representatives.  I wrote about that two-day-long episode at FNC in two articles for AT, here and here.  The embarrassing on-air dispute cooled off after Smith was reportedly cautioned by management to drop it.

Shepard Smith was one of Fox News's highest paid hosts, according to multiple reports, making $15 million a year.  In addition to his daily afternoon hour, Smith in 2013 was designated as Fox News's chief news anchor for live coverage of breaking news events, and a new multi-million-dollar futuristic "news deck" studio was built especially to accommodate him and his hosting duties.


Shepard Smith in the "news deck" studio of the Fox News channel.

 

For years, Smith's visible leftward bias both on air and in a number of mainstream articles about him had driven conservative viewers of Fox crazy as he stood out as increasingly opinionated amid a field of more objective news personnel.  Smith's habit of wearing his opinions on his sleeve during what were billed as news broadcasts also put him increasingly at odds with the channel's ratings leaders, who are its unapologetic conservative prime-time opinion show hosts.

CNN's Brian Stelter, who has made a career out of attacking Fox News, elaborated on Smith's departure in an article at CNN dot com on Friday afternoon.  The article is emblematic of the mainstream media's jaundiced view of Smith as a lone truth-teller among what the MSM see as Fox News's right-wing pro-Trump apologists:

Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough.

With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the networks pro-Trump opinion shows.

The way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air.

"I wonder," he told a Time magazine reporter last year, "if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know."

But he had had enough. In September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were the breaking point. [emphasis added.]

Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years.

For months I have been working on a book about Fox News in the Trump age. Staffers have been confiding in me about the challenges of covering the news inside a network that is increasingly defined by sychophantic pro-Trump personalities like Sean Hannity.

Fox News's emailed announcement Friday at 3:53 PM ET that Smith was leaving minutes later painted a respectful picture of the impending split:

FOX NEWS Channel's (FNC) Shepard Smith will step down from his role as Chief News Anchor and Managing Editor of the network's breaking news unit and Anchor of Shepard Smith Reporting, announced Jay Wallace, President & Executive Editor of FOX News Media. This afternoon's edition of Shepard Smith Reporting was Mr. Smith's final show, during which he addressed his decision. A series of rotating anchors will host the 3PM/ET time slot until a new dayside news program is announced.

In making the announcement, Mr. Wallace said, "Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry. His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put FOX News on the map and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery. We are proud of the signature reporting and anchoring style he honed at FOX News, along with everything he accomplished here during his monumental 23-year tenure. While this day is especially difficult as his former producer, we respect his decision and are deeply grateful for his immense contributions to the entire network."

Mr. Smith added, "Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave FOX News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It's been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor. I've worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I'm proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them."


Shepard Smith waves goodbye at the end of his final broadcast, Oct. 11, 2019.
Screen grab by Peter Barry Chowka.

It is unclear if the legions of conservative podcast hosts and new media analysts, and many present and former viewers of the news channel, who have been dissing Fox News of late (for allegedly "veering left"), will be placated by Smith's departure. Conservative John B. Wells, for example, host of the weekly syndicated political talk show Ark Midnight and the weeknight subscription Internet program Caravan to Midnighttweeted this comment after the news about Smith broke:

Looks like Smith will be Shepard to a different flock soon... Don't think it will change anything in the #Fox Den – but it's a start I guess...

Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  Peter's website is http://peter.media.  Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.

After 23 years as one of the most prominent on-air personalities at the Fox News channel, left-wing program host Shepard Smith made the surprise announcement at the end of his program Shepard Smith Reporting on Friday afternoon that he is leaving the channel immediately (Fox News video here).  Only minutes before, Fox News Media Relations emailed a news release to journalists, including this one, titled "Shepard Smith to Step Down from FOX News."  The release was attributed to an unusually high-level source at the channel, Irena Briganti, the executive vice president of corporate communications for Fox News and Fox Business Network.  Like Smith, Briganti has been with Fox News since it launched in 1996.


Shepard Smith announces he's leaving Fox News, 3:58 P.M. E.T., Oct. 11, 2019.
Screen grab by Peter Barry Chowka.

The news about Smith's sudden exit stunned almost everyone, including Fox News host Neil Cavuto, whose live program immediately followed Smith's on-air announcement.  As the Washington Examiner transcribed it:

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto appeared momentarily stunned at the beginning of his show after hearing that his colleague Shepard Smith's last day at the network was Friday[.][ ...

"Woah. I'm Neil Cavuto and like you, I'm a little stunned and a little heartbroken. I don't know what to say. Shepard Smith, as I said, just a few days ago on this very network, a decent human being, a heart as big as Texas. I didn't say Texas at the time, maybe just all of Manhattan. Wow. I don't know. ... A better newsman, you probably cannot find. Again, a bigger more emotionally connected to humankind, you cannot find. So Shepard, I don't know what the heck you are planning to do or where you will go, but I just know you will be great at doing it and you deserve the best that life has to offer. So, I'm sorry if I'm a little shell-shocked here, but I'm going to miss my buddy. All right. Onto the news at hand, as Shepard would say because breaking news does change everything, and we've got a lot of it going on right now.

The Washington Examiner noted that Cavuto's shock and dismay at Smith's sudden departure was shared by other colleagues at Fox News:

A number of other Fox News personalities, including fellow anchor Bret Baier and senior White House correspondent John Roberts, also expressed their surprise at the news. Roberts appeared on Cavuto's show in the opening segment and called the news "completely shocking" and said it felt like he was "hit by a subway train."


The Drudge Report headlines Shepard Smith's departure Friday afternoon and evening.

It was just two weeks ago that the long simmering enmity between Fox News channel news personnel and opinion hosts, which I first reported in an article at American Thinker on March 19, 2018, broke out wide into the open, when Smith and prime-time conservative host Tucker Carlson got into an on-air dust-up that made headlines.  Their disagreement, which involved Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano and prominent conservative Washington, D.C. attorney Joseph diGenova, concerned radically differing interpretations of the legality of President Donald Trump's phone conversation with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky last July 25 — an event that has become the raison d'être for the Democrats' move to impeach the president in the House of Representatives.  I wrote about that two-day-long episode at FNC in two articles for AT, here and here.  The embarrassing on-air dispute cooled off after Smith was reportedly cautioned by management to drop it.

Shepard Smith was one of Fox News's highest paid hosts, according to multiple reports, making $15 million a year.  In addition to his daily afternoon hour, Smith in 2013 was designated as Fox News's chief news anchor for live coverage of breaking news events, and a new multi-million-dollar futuristic "news deck" studio was built especially to accommodate him and his hosting duties.


Shepard Smith in the "news deck" studio of the Fox News channel.

 

For years, Smith's visible leftward bias both on air and in a number of mainstream articles about him had driven conservative viewers of Fox crazy as he stood out as increasingly opinionated amid a field of more objective news personnel.  Smith's habit of wearing his opinions on his sleeve during what were billed as news broadcasts also put him increasingly at odds with the channel's ratings leaders, who are its unapologetic conservative prime-time opinion show hosts.

CNN's Brian Stelter, who has made a career out of attacking Fox News, elaborated on Smith's departure in an article at CNN dot com on Friday afternoon.  The article is emblematic of the mainstream media's jaundiced view of Smith as a lone truth-teller among what the MSM see as Fox News's right-wing pro-Trump apologists:

Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough.

With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the networks pro-Trump opinion shows.

The way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air.

"I wonder," he told a Time magazine reporter last year, "if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know."

But he had had enough. In September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were the breaking point. [emphasis added.]

Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years.

For months I have been working on a book about Fox News in the Trump age. Staffers have been confiding in me about the challenges of covering the news inside a network that is increasingly defined by sychophantic pro-Trump personalities like Sean Hannity.

Fox News's emailed announcement Friday at 3:53 PM ET that Smith was leaving minutes later painted a respectful picture of the impending split:

FOX NEWS Channel's (FNC) Shepard Smith will step down from his role as Chief News Anchor and Managing Editor of the network's breaking news unit and Anchor of Shepard Smith Reporting, announced Jay Wallace, President & Executive Editor of FOX News Media. This afternoon's edition of Shepard Smith Reporting was Mr. Smith's final show, during which he addressed his decision. A series of rotating anchors will host the 3PM/ET time slot until a new dayside news program is announced.

In making the announcement, Mr. Wallace said, "Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry. His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put FOX News on the map and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery. We are proud of the signature reporting and anchoring style he honed at FOX News, along with everything he accomplished here during his monumental 23-year tenure. While this day is especially difficult as his former producer, we respect his decision and are deeply grateful for his immense contributions to the entire network."

Mr. Smith added, "Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave FOX News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It's been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor. I've worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I'm proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them."


Shepard Smith waves goodbye at the end of his final broadcast, Oct. 11, 2019.
Screen grab by Peter Barry Chowka.

It is unclear if the legions of conservative podcast hosts and new media analysts, and many present and former viewers of the news channel, who have been dissing Fox News of late (for allegedly "veering left"), will be placated by Smith's departure. Conservative John B. Wells, for example, host of the weekly syndicated political talk show Ark Midnight and the weeknight subscription Internet program Caravan to Midnighttweeted this comment after the news about Smith broke:

Looks like Smith will be Shepard to a different flock soon... Don't think it will change anything in the #Fox Den – but it's a start I guess...

Peter Barry Chowka writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications.  Peter's website is http://peter.media.  Follow him on Twitter at @pchowka.