Shep-Shifter: Events That Shaped Shep
Over the past two years, Fox News has appeared to have changed politically. For regular viewers, this is a commonplace, but in terms of causation, it bears some scrutiny.
In truth, it was a house divided after the fall of two pillars, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Now the decision has been made to get back to basics. No more CNN-Lite at 3 pm. Shep is out after 23 years.
Anchor Shepard Smith was the face of Fox’s progressive wing. With the news division since its 1996 inception, he has slowly become a conservative punching bag. His now-former program, Shepard Smith Reporting in the 3 pm slot, ranked 24th among all news programs, and 14th of 18 Fox News programs.
In content and tone, Smith changed tremendously since the early aughts. In his heyday, he was widely praised for his 2000 presidential election coverage and Hurricane Katrina reporting, and in ratings, reputation, and pay, he rivaled contemporaries Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather. Since then, Smith slowly drifted to the center, and more recently, to left-center in matters of content (not only stories he highlights, but those he ignores), and in tone.
Straight Father Figure Silences Gay “Son”
A three-year series of events intensified Smith’s transformation. Fox News chief Roger Ailes was “like a father” to Smith, but their relationship was fraught. According to a 2014 Gawker article, Smith wanted to come out as gay, but Ailes advised against it (Smith denies this, but it appears he was protecting the network). Two years later, Ailes was ousted over accusations of sexual harassment in April of 2016. Smith then came out as gay six months later. Fox mainstay Bill O’Reilly was forced out for sexual harassment as well, and a month later, less than a year after his ouster, Ailes died in May of 2017.
For Smith to be told by his father figure to conceal his sexuality, watch as Ailes was forced out due to his own sexual misdeeds, come out as gay, then have Ailes die in short order must have been an emotional period for Smith. Steadily declining ratings didn’t help. And then Donald Trump was elected president. This timeline marks Smith’s hard tack to the left.
Don’t Punch Up Too Hard
Despite his longtime tenure with Fox, Smith, in the autumn of his career, was not untouchable. A spat two weeks ago with colleague Tucker Carlson underscored his vulnerability, and was likely the final straw for Rupert Murdoch. The subject was the legality of President Trump asking Ukraine President Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the Ukraine (emphasis added):
Fox News host Tucker Carlson called out opinion host Shepard Smith for being a left-wing political activist masquerading as an objective journalist.—BPR Business and Politics
Carlson was reacting after Smith slammed former U.S. Attorney Joe diGenova as “repugnant” because diGenova pointed out that President Donald Trump did nothing wrong during his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president.
In so doing, diGenova contradicted Smith and his guest, Judge Andrew Napolitano…
…Carlson recounted: “Yesterday, Judge Andrew Napolitano — a legal analyst at Fox and a very nice guy — went on one of our daytime shows and declared that the President’s phone call with the head of Ukraine was a crime.”
Tucker told diGenova: “Apparently [Shepard Smith], who hosted Judge Napolitano, was watching last night and was outraged by what you said and quite ironically, called you ‘partisan.’”
Carlson added: “It makes people cynical when you dress up news coverage — when you dress up partisanship as ‘news coverage’ — and pretend that your angry political opinions are ‘news.’ People tune out. They know dishonesty when they see it.”
Is This Related To Yesterday’s Weird Fox Polls?
In short, since the ouster of Bill O’Reilly and the death of Roger Ailes, the news desk was less uniform in its messaging. While top dog Sean Hannity–who also feuded with Shepard last year–and his heir apparent Carlson continue to set the tone, Shepard and his supporters at Fox appear to have taken a deep state approach. Don’t be surprised if it comes out that Smith had something to do with the ridiculous polls from Fox yesterday.
Trump was referring to yesterday’s Fox News poll that showed 51% approval for impeachment and removal of President Trump. Now: tack onto that unlikely result yesterday’s other topic in the same poll of democratic candidates that has Joe Biden up by 10 points over Warren. How convenient for the establishment!
Something stank at Fox News, and they appear to have removed it. They were losing credibility due to a bitter old anchor and highly suspicious pollsters, now it’s time to move on.
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