Fox News announced the departure Friday of Shepard Smith, one of the network's first hires when Roger Ailes launched the cable channel in 1996. He has been with Fox ever since as a reporter and anchor, most recently of Shepard Smith Reports. Over the last few years in particular, he's become known as one of the few Voices of Reason on the network, an on-air personality who retained some regard for objective reality as the network—and with it, the conservative movement—lurched further and further towards the end-stage lunacy of Trumpism. Of course, he continued cashing those big checks throughout.
In a statement, Smith made clear that the move was his decision:
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.
Here's Smith's sign-off from the network today:
Full video: Shepard Smith's final sign off from Fox News pic.twitter.com/5fgyM81Gbj— Jon Passantino (@passantino) October 11, 2019
Smith's position is clearly that he was ready to go. In recent weeks, however, his insistence on tethering his program to reality has put him crossways with others at the network—particularly primetime host Tucker Carlson, who is now one of Trump's number-one boosters. It came to a head on air at the end of September, when Smith hosted Andrew Napolitano, a former judge who has been refreshingly clear-eyed with respect to Trump's constant stream of crimes and impeachable offenses, and the judge called the Ukraine call what it was: criminal. That night, Carlson hosted pro-Trump lawyer Joe DiGenova—a frequent guest whose record in Republican ratfucking goes back to the Clinton years—to attack Napolitano's assessment on-air. As the feud continued, Carlson ended up calling Smith "partisan," and irony died again. According to Vanity Fair, network executives told Smith to stop attacking Carlson and that "if he does it again, he’s off the air."
This was seen as part of a larger battle within the network over whether it would continue to just serve as Trump's mouthpiece while he kept doing crimes. All this is in addition to the fact that Fox News' protagonist-slash-number-one-power-user, the President of the United States, apparently dislikes Smith and, as Vanity Fair also reported, turns the channel off at 3 p.m. when he comes on. And let me tell ya, it takes a lot to make Donald Trump turn off the teevee. Maybe he just switches to CNN. Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's pet toad for an attorney general, visited Fox News' ultimate overlord, Rupert Murdoch, just yesterday. There's no evidence yet that Smith's departure is related, but it's some coincidence. Either way, totally normal stuff for the Attorney General of the United States to be doing while the president faces an impeachment inquiry.
Anyway, Smith's departure makes for one less person who will at least occasionally tell Fox viewers the truth. There's always Chris Wallace.
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