Shepard Smith has been at Fox News since it was born in 1996. He’s currently the host of the 3:00-4:00 p.m. ET Shepard Smith Reporting. Since 2013, he’s been romantically linked to Giovanni “Gio” Graziano, a Fox Business producer.
Earlier this year, Smith has gained notoriety as the one Fox News anchor to stand against the Donald Trump Administration. It was Smith who had to tell viewers that Fox News had no evidence to support Andrew Napolitano‘s claims that the British government helped President Barack Obama wiretap Trump Tower last year. It was the 53-year-old Smith who defended CNN against Trump’s “fake news” insults. Smith also called out Trump for releasing a list of under-reported terror attacks.
Smith devoted a passionate 13-minute segment to former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who died on May 18, a week after falling at his Palm Beach, Florida home. Although Ailes had flaws, Smith said, “I love him.” Smith recalled a moment when Ailes helped him when a blackmailer tried to hurt his private life.
“He would try to prepare me for that and lead me through it,” Smith said. “When a blackmailer entered my life and the lives of my family, he held my hand and saw me to the other side. When details of my personal life became public, he supported me.”
Here’s what you need to know about Smith.
1. Smith Is Gay & Has a Partner
Back in 2013, Gawker reported that Smith was dating a man, Giovanni Graziano, who was working as a producer at Fox Business at the time. Gawker continued to publish a series of articles, hoping to force Smith to eventually confirm that he’s gay.
The Daily Banter later obtained two statements, incluidng a joint statement from then-Fox News chief Roger Ailes and Smith, calling the Gawker story “100% false and a complete fabrication.”
Smith held off on talking about his sexuality publicly for as long as he could. Despite that, Out Magazine put him on their list of the 50 most powerful LGBT media personalities.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Smith denied reports that Ailes wouldn’t allow him to publicly come out.
“That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” he said. “I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”
Smith also told the Huffington Post that Ailes didn’t use homophobic slurs around him, even though there are rumors that he would use slurs around rivals.
“No, never. He treated me with respect, just respect,” Smith told the Huffington Post. “I wasn’t new in the business when I came here ― I’d been doing reporting for 12 years ― but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”
Smith talked about his sexuality in April at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism, notes the Clarion-Ledger. He revealed that he has a partner who he comes home to every day.
“I don’t think about it,” Smith said of his sexuality. “It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with.”
Smith didn’t say who his partner is. Back in 2013, Gawker reported that Smith was dating Giovanni “Gio” Graziano, a Fox Business producer, at the time.
2. Smith Dropped Out of Journalism School to Marry an Ole Miss Classmate, Virginia Donald
According to a 2003 People Magazine profile of Smith, he attended the University of Mississippi. In 1987, he needed only two more credits to graduate, but he dropped out before he could get them to marry Virginia Donald. Even though he didn’t have a degree, he was still hired by a Panama City, Florida station as a reporter. The following year, he moved to Fort Myers to work for a station with its first satellite truck.
“It meant we could get out and cover hurricanes,” Smith told People. “I knew right then, I’ll do this forever.”
People reports that he was in Miami by 1993. That same year though, his marriage to Donald “had fallen apart,” according to the magazine. They did not have any children together.
3. Live TV Coverage of Elvis Presley’s Funeral Inspired Him to be a Journalist
The journalism event that inspired Smith to join the media might come as a surprise to some. He told the American Journalism Review in 2010 that seeing Elvis Presley’s funeral covered on live television in 1977 made him want to be a journalist. The “gadget geek,” as he calls himself, was inspired by the technology that brought the funeral into homes across the country. “I knew I wanted to do that someday,” Smith said. He was 13 years old at the time.
Smith told the American Journalism Review that he grew up in rural Mississippi, in the segregated town of Holly Springs. His mother was an English teacher and his father sold cotton. Their family fell apart in 1977, when the cotton market struggled. His parents split and his mother took Smith and his younger brother to Florida.
“Suddenly, we were transplanted,” Smith told the American Journalism Review. “It was a traumatic experience. Our family lived in the same house for generations.”
He return to Mississippi for college, then headed back to Florida. He found himself in Los Angeles before he joined Fox News in 1996, just as the network was getting started. In 1999, Ailes picked him to host his first show, Fox Report.
4. Smith Has an Estimated Net Worth of $25 Million
Thanks to Smith’s longevity at Fox News, he’s one of the highest-paid journalists at the network. Celebrity Net Worth estimates that he has a net worth of $25 million.
Smith signed his most recent contract extension in September 2013, Fox News announced at the time. He also got a promotion to Managing Editor and was named the leader of the new Breaking News Division. Fox News also decided to re-brand his show as Shepard Smith Reporting.
“Learning and reporting the news has been my passion for 25 years,” Smith said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that Roger is trusting and empowering my team and me to bring the news to our viewers as it happens throughout the day and night. Roger’s forward-looking approach to anchoring and reporting will continue to solidify FNC’s position as the number one cable news network in the country.”
5. Smith Has Stood Out on Fox By Speaking Out Against Donald Trump
While many of Fox News anchors have been criticized for being too cozy with President Donald Trump, Smith has surprised media observers by going against the grain. For example, after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer blocked CNN and a handful of other news media organizations from attending an off-camera “gaggle” in February, Smith told his audience that CNN is not “fake news.”
“For the record, ‘fake news’ refers to stories that are created, often by entities pretending to be news organizations, solely to draw clicks and views and are based on nothing of substance,” Smith said. “In short, fake news is made up nonsense delivered for financial gain. CNN’s reporting was not fake news. Its journalists followed the same standards to which other news organizations, including Fox News, adhere.”
On March 10, he called out the White House for “too much lying and too much Russia and too much smoke.”
“The White House says, ‘Ah, he was a private citizen at the time.’ But there’s been a lot of lying,” Smith said after it was revealed that Michael Flynn was paid $530,000 in 2016 by the Turkish government. “There’s been lying about who you talk to, and by lots of people and almost inevitably and invariably, they were lying about talking to the Russians, about something. It’s too much lying and too much Russia and too much smoke. And now they’re investigating.”
On March 13, Smith said he couldn’t quote White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway any longer because of her “history” of lying after she tried to back away from her claim that Trump could be spied on with a microwave.
“And then microwaves that turn into cameras? A fact of modern life?” Smith said. “Microwaves do not turn into cameras. Fox News can now confirm microwaves heat food, cameras take pictures, [microwaves] don’t have cameras and [microwaves] cannot turn into cameras.”
And on March 17, it was Smith who said Fox News had “no evidence of any kind” that Trump was wiretapped by the Obama Administration.
AdWeek reports that back in September 2015, Megyn Kelly, who was still at Fox News at the time, said that she’s “pretty sure” Smith is “a liberal guy.”