Americans are shellshocked that news anchor Shepard Smith has decided to call it quits at the Fox News Channel. Smith opted to leave before his recently renewed contract expired, and the network bigwigs reportedly urged him to stay. He leaves a cable channel that was launched as the conservatives’ answer to a liberal mainstream media and reportedly walks away from $15 million a year.
Smith was one of a handful of on-air personalities who didn’t drink the FNC Kool-Aid, trading barbs with anyone from his on-air peers such as Tucker Carlson to the President of the United States Donald Trump. The ironic thing is that Fox News Channel has evolved since it launched in 1996 and is no longer a proxy for the Republican party. That is unless you believe the rumors that former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who is on the Fox Corp board of directors is wielding his influence to “do something about President Trump.”
Given the shift in tone, it would seem that Shep would be more comfortable today at the network than he was when he joined more than two decades ago. And while Fox viewers may be thinking don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Smith has gained the respect of his peers for his uncanny ability to tell a breaking story.
Smith is also one of the friendlier news personalities whose head isn’t so big that he won’t say hello while passing through the halls of Fox News.
Fox News Channel is the most pro-Trump network out of the bunch, boasting a seasoned bench of conservatives during the opinion-fueled prime time lineup including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. Back in the day, for more than a decade Hannity shared the desk with liberal co-anchor Alan Colmes, who passed away in 2017. These days, the Fox cast of characters has expanded to include the likes of Democrat Juan Williams, who is the lone liberal voice on the popular show The Five, in addition to the anti-Trump judicial voice Andrew Napolitano, who believes that the president has demonstrated “both criminal and impeachable behavior.”
And similar to how politics in the U.S. is currently polarized, Fox News Channel has shown signs of being similarly divisive. Shepard Smith has gone toe-to-toe with Hannity and Carlson on live TV, something that was not always a part of the culture at the 24/7 news organization. The culture seems to have turned since the departure of Roger Ailes, the architect behind FNC who was ousted amid sexual harassment allegations and who has also since passed away. These days, Lachlan Murdoch, the son of Fox founder Rupert Murdoch, is at the helm of Fox News and according to reports is a liberal.
Meanwhile, Fox has been sounding a lot more like CNN lately, having recently published a poll revealing that more than half of registered voters wanted to see the president impeached. President Trump lashed out at the network on his favorite social media platform:
“From the day I announced I was running for President, I have NEVER had a good Fox News Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck.”
There is also no love lost between Shepard Smith and President Trump.
While it’s unclear what Shep Smith’s next move will be, one thing is clear – he won’t be popping up on a competing network anytime soon because of a non-compete agreement in place. As for Fox, don’t be surprised if Smith’s replacement is someone who isn’t on the Trump train.