Shepard Smith is leaving Fox News, the Mississippi-born news anchor announced on the October 11 episode of his show. Smith had been with Fox News since the network was founded in November 1996. At the time of his departure, Smith was the station’s chief news anchor and managing editor of the breaking news division.
NBC News’ Jo Ling Kent incorrectly reported that Smith was “escorted out by security” following his show. Kent later clarified her message to say that Smith’s exit was planned by the anchor and was part of the network’s protocol.
Smith, 55, made the announcement at the conclusion of his show. Smith said that he would not be reporting elsewhere, “for the time being.” Smith told his viewers, “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.”
Smith made reference to his boyfriend, Gio, in his message, saying that he looked forward to spending more time with him.
Neil Cavuto Declared Himself as ‘Shell-Shocked’ That Smith Was Leaving
Neil Cavuto, whose show airs immediately after Smith’s, described himself as “shell-shocked” at the news. Cavuto’s surprise indicated that Smith’s departure came as a shock to even Fox anchors. Reporter John Roberts, who was Cavuto’s first guest, expressed his shock on Twitter saying, “Shepard Smith just dropped a bomb. After 23 years at
@FoxNews, he announced he is leaving the network. He was part of the glue that held Fox together. He is a supreme pro who made us all better.”
Fox News host Bret Baier tweeted that the news that Smith was leaving was a “total shock.”
Smith’s Announcement Comes 24 Hours After Attorney General William Barr Met With Fox News Founder Rupert Murdoch
The day before Smith announced he was leaving, Fox News owner Ruper Murdochmet with Attorney General William Barr, according to the New York Times.
That came on the back of President Donald Trump tweeting his anger regarding a Fox News poll that showed 51% of voters wanted the president removed from office. Trump said, “Whoever their Pollster is, they suck.” The president name-checked Shepard Smith in a subsequent message as one of the Fox News personalities who had been constantly critical of Trump’s leadership.
Smith Said He Agreed to Stay With Fox News in 2018 Because He Was Worried About Who Would Replace Him
In March 2018, Smith told Time Magazine that part of the reason he had signed a new contract with Fox News was that he “was nervous about what would come on Fox’s air after he left.” Smith went on saying, “To stop doing it would be bad because I think that there is a need for it and I know the degree to which we care about it and focus on it and we want it to be as perfect as it can be. And I wonder, 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.”
In March 2017, Smith delivered a speech at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism in which he spoke about coming out as gay in 2009, reported the Clarion-Ledger at the time. This came after years of rumors regarding Smith’s sexuality.
Smith told the Huffington Post in October 2016 that controversial former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes had never influenced Smith’s decision about whether or not to come out publicly.