The most jarring news in the media world today is that Shepard Smith of Fox News announced on the air that he was anchoring his last broadcast at the network. No one had anticipated his departure and there had been no speculation about it. His colleagues were dumbstruck and issued their own emotional reactions.
Smith was out of place at Fox News. He was frequently reporting the actual facts of a story even while his primetime colleagues (Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson) were deliberately lying and even maligning his work and his honor. Carlson engaged in an on-air feud with Smith just last month after his guest, Trump flunky Joe diGenova, called Smith a fool for daring to report honestly. However, despite the open hostility, Smith bravely endured in a losing war to inform Fox’s viewers. One of his recent valiant efforts involved setting the record straight on the Russia probe and the Mueller report. And on another occasion Smith brutally, yet subtly, roasted Fox News while accepting a First Amendment Award.
It cannot be ignored that Smith announced his departure (video below) the day after Donald Trump’s shill Attorney General, William Barr, had a private meeting with the overlord of Fox News, Rupert Murdoch. That confab was originally suspicious because it occurred the day after Fox News released a poll showing that a majority of voters favored Trump’s impeachment and removal from office. Trump, who has long despised Smith, naturally expressed his disappointment with Fox tweeting falsely that “I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll. Whoever their Pollster is, they suck. […] @FoxNews doesn’t deliver for US anymore.” And then Barr traveled to Murdoch’s lair to kiss his ring.
However, this new development makes it all even more suspicious. There is no way of knowing at this time if that meeting had anything to do with Smith leaving Fox News. His on-air farewell was nothing but grateful and gracious. But it is extraordinarily rare for a figure so closely tied with a broadcaster (Smith was at Fox from day one) to leave without any notice. Normally one would announce they are going off to pursue other opportunities, and that their last day would be a week or a month away. But Smith is already gone. And in his goodbye he noted that there is an agreement with Fox that he will not work as a journalist anywhere else for some unspecified period of time.
There is already speculation that Smith was forced out. And of course, there is already speculation that that speculation is false. But get real. If Smith wasn’t forced out overtly by his bosses who were through tolerating his independence, then he was forced out covertly by the way he was treated. In the matter of his feud with Carlson, it was Smith who management reprimanded.
No doubt Smith’s departure will bring great joy to Trump. And he will surely tweet something nasty about it before long. But Fox News has lost one of its only connections to ethical journalism. And it could not have come at a worse time. Trump is suffering a hysterical meltdown as Congress gets closer to his inevitable impeachment, but which he insanely has taken to calling a “coup.”. Just last night he delivered what may be the most disgusting performance of his short residency in Washington.
What’s left at Fox News will be an increasingly sycophantic cadre of true believers who literally describe their Dear Leader in terms generally reserved for kings or gods. As Trump’s megalomaniania, paranoia, and malignant narcissism become more severe, his martinets at Fox News will become more unbearably worshipful. So as we heartily wish good luck to Shep, we nervously wish it also for ourselves.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.
Full video: Shepard Smith's final sign off from Fox News pic.twitter.com/5fgyM81Gbj
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) October 11, 2019