Shepard Smith, considered a moderate voice on Fox News Channel, announced Friday that he’s stepped down from the cable news network.
Smith, who has been at the network for more than two decades and was one of its original hires, said the decision to leave was his own.
“Recently, I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged,” he said on air.
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Later, in a statement released by FNC, Smith thanked the network for allowing a “guy from small-town Mississippi” to have a seat at one of America’s most powerful anchor chairs.
“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,” he said in the statement.
“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.”
Smith has been a critic of President Donald Trump, most recently ripping him for insisting, incorrectly, that Alabama was a target of Hurricane Dorian.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Smith said on air at the time. “Instead … the president blamed the media for his own inaccurate warning and then started to rewrite history on the matter.”
Trump appeared to doctor a map to make his point in an Oval Office address.
“Why would the president of the United States do this?” Smith said. “He decries fake news that isn’t, and disseminates fake news that is.”
In a 2016 interview with HuffPost, Smith drew a bright line between his news show and Fox’s conservative talkers.
“Everybody’s got a job to do. Hannity is trying to get conservatives elected. And he wants you to listen to him and believe what he believes,” Smith told the online news outfit. “And I’m disseminating facts. It’s really apples and teaspoons. What we do is so different. He’s an entertaining guy who has an audience that he serves, and I deliver the news.”
And back in 2009, Smith took on Republican orthodoxy by forcefully saying American intelligence officers should not use torture in interrogating detainees.
“We are America. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it helps,” he angrily said on FNC’s digital show “The Strategy Room.” “We are America. We do not f—ing torture. We don’t do it.”
The network and Smith announced in March of last year that they had agreed to a new multi-year deal — though specifics of the reported pact were not revealed.