LGBTQ Heroes: Shepard Smith – the gay journalist who speaks truth to power
Fox News anchor, Shepard Smith, has abruptly departed the network. Seen as one of the most impartial and respected news voices on Fox, Smith’s on-air announcement of his exit included an expression of hope that “facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.”
Why does Shepard Smith’s departure from Fox matter?
The relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration has been an interesting one to watch, with an increasing schism apparent between news reports such as Smith and the prime time ‘opinion’ programs that appear to be much more overtly pro-Trump. Smith’s departure has the potential to enable Fox News to slide further into the realm of opinion-based rather than fact-based news.
According to The Guardian, Smith has repeatedly called out the president for his falsehoods and attacks on the media. Late last month, he condemned Trump’s false corruption allegations against Joe Biden, now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, as “baseless” and a “conspiracy theory”.
How long has Shepard Smith worked at Fox News?
Smith signed a three-year contract extension with Fox News last year but on Friday he announced his departure on air, telling viewers he had asked to leave.
“Gathering and reporting the news has been my life’s work…” said Smith, in his on-air departure announcement. “Thirty-three years, the last 23 right here, since we launched Fox News channel in 1996. The opportunities afforded this guy from small-town Mississippi have been many.”
Smith listed big stories he worked on, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the Columbine school shooting. He said he had endeavoured to “speak truth to power without fear or favour, in context and with respect”.
Why has Shepard Smith left Fox News?
Industry analysts reacting to Smith’s resignation have concluded that Smith was becoming increasingly unhappy about the prevalence of opinion-based news at the network.
On-air statements by Trump-supporting hosts and guests appear to have finally got too much for an old-school journalist like Smith.
In announcing his departure, Smith said that he was looking forward to spending time with Gio – his partner, Giovanni Graziano.
Smith began speaking publicly about his sexuality in 2017.
In a speech that he made at the time, reported by the Clarion Ledger, he explained how he never thought of himself as having been ‘in the closet’ – “I don’t think about it. 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.”
What next for Shepard Smith?
Smith said on-air that he would not be reporting elsewhere for the time being, as the terms of his contract prevent him from doing so.