Shepard Smith, Fox News Anchor and Trump Critic, Steps Down

The network announced his decision on Friday

Fox News’ Shepard Smith will step down from his position as chief news anchor, managing editor of Fox’s breaking news unit, and anchor of “Shepard Smith Reporting,” according to a Friday announcement from Fox News president and executive editor Jay Wallace. Smith has been one of the network’s rare critics of President Donald Trump.

Friday afternoon’s episode of Smith’s show was his last, the network said. Until a replacement for Smith’s show is announced, a rotating group of anchors — including Jon Scott and Trace Gallagher — will host his 3 p.m. ET time slot, a Fox News spokesperson told TheWrap. For now, the show will be renamed “Fox News Reporting,” according to the spokesperson.

“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,” Smith said in a 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 was hired by FNC in 1996 and has served as a correspondent and anchor. He began hosting his daytime show, “Shepard Smith Reporting,” in 2002. Last year, the anchor had signed a multi-year deal with Fox News for an undisclosed amount and length. In his final sign-off on his Friday afternoon show, Smith said he had an “agreement” that he would not be reporting at other networks “in the near future.”

A representative for Smith did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

In recent months, Smith has emerged as one of Fox News’ rare critics of President Trump. Last month, after Trump had displayed a doctored hurricane map and incorrectly said that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian, Smith pointed out the irony of Trump’s actions on his show. “Why would the president of the United States do this?” Smith said on his show at the time. “He decries fake news that isn’t, and disseminates fake news that is.”

“Everybody makes mistakes,” he added. “Instead … the president blamed the media for his own inaccurate warning and then started to rewrite history on the matter.”

In a thread of tweets targeting Fox News on Thursday, Trump also singled out Smith in his criticism of an impeachment poll that the network had commissioned. The announcement also comes after Attorney General William Barr met privately with Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch on Wednesday evening, according to a New York Times report. It’s not immediately clear what was discussed during their meeting.

“Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry. His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put FOX News on the map and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery,” Wallace said in a statement. “We are proud of the signature reporting and anchoring style he honed at FOX News, along with everything he accomplished here during his monumental 23-year tenure. While this day is especially difficult as his former producer, we respect his decision and are deeply grateful for his immense contributions to the entire network.”

Watch Smith’s final sign-off on his Friday afternoon show above.