Boo hoo! Shepard Smith is tanking at CNBC after leaving Fox News
Legions of the conservative viewers who made Fox News the number-one cable news channel celebrated when Shepard Smith departed its lineup in 2019. According to the Daily Beast in 2019, he ditched his $15-million salary in the middle of a three-year contract because of criticism from higher-rated conservatives at Fox, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. I had come to the point where I switched channels when he came on because his snarky anti-conservative commentary was unbearable.
Smith took his time returning to the TV news business, and according to this Daily Beast story yesterday, he was in discussion with a number of other broadcasters including CBS before finally landing a job with CNBC, the business news channel owned by Comcast, reportedly receiving $5 to 6 million a year. Interestingly, this Beast article pegged his Fox salary at $30 million. Either estimate would mean Smith is paying a high price for avoiding criticism from colleagues.
The Beast writers hilariously describe Smith as "[a] traditional broadcast anchor with little appetite for the partisan or ideological programming," given how often he made nasty comments about then-president Trump. But it does tell us a lot about the ideological blinders worn by leftists in the agitprop media.
But even with a big salary cut, it looks as though Smith has turned out to be no bargain for his new employers at the Comcast subsidiary. His ratings have tanked, he doesn't get along with his new colleagues, and he is unhappy.
Whether it's a poor time slot, behind-the-scenes squabbles, an outdated news format, a slower post-Trump news cycle, or just a once-popular anchor taking his frustrations out on staffers, CNBC insiders have a lot of reasons for why Shepard Smith's show has failed to capture major ratings. But one thing many agree on is that it has not met the bosses' expectations. (snip)
Smith's salary and the resources Hoffman has thrown at his show have created a tremendous amount of resentment from other CNBC talent, according to multiple insiders familiar with the situation.
The P.R. people at CNBC have a different spin, of course:
"It's been less than a year since we launched The News with Shepard Smith and we are incredibly proud of the high quality journalism and powerful storytelling the team produces every week night," a CNBC spokesman told The Daily Beast. "While news viewers' habits take time to change, The News has far outperformed in the 7pm timeslot from the same time period in 2020 and in June, viewers watched 7.2 million hours across TV, digital and social platforms, which was double-digit percentage growth month-over-month."
Given that there were 22 weekdays (M–F) in June, that works out to 327,000 full hours of viewing per day, compared to Hannity's and Carlson's multimillion viewers per day over at Fox News. And the CNBC figures must include a lot of online viewership because Nielson Media Research says his show "averaged just 197,000 total viewers in June, losing a third of its viewers since the show's peak in February."
Smith interviews White House press secretary Psaki (YouTube screen grab).
Smith's poor ratings are not due to lack of investment by his new net:
The network built its star a new studio at CNBC headquarters in New Jersey and shelled out more money to build a separate one at Smith's palatial Hamptons home owing to the pandemic, according to the people familiar with the situation. The show staffed up with some of Smith's former Fox News colleagues, as well as CNBC veterans, almost all of whom worked quickly to launch the show before the 2020 election in the hopes of capitalizing on some of the increased news viewership around the historic race.
But the viewers never seemed to show up.
There are a lot of unhappy campers, evidently including Smith:
[A]mid a wider re-evaluation of bullying in media workplaces, some staffers have complained that he is difficult to deal with.
At least two people with direct knowledge of the situation described Smith as having regular "temper tantrums." When CNBC announced Smith was joining the business news channel, it tapped Sandy Cannold, a veteran TV producer, to help helm the show along with co-executive producer Sally Ramirez, a veteran of local television. But according to multiple people familiar with the matter, Cannold departed less than six months in, and clashed at times with Smith in front of staff.
Other employees were also frustrated when, in recent weeks, the show laid off two of the few non-white employees on its production team.
I would say CNBC's parent Comcast and Smith deserve each other. Like the rest of the agitprop media, they force-feed leftism to a public that is less and less eager to buy what they are selling.