President Donald Trump took a final dig at Fox News’ Shepard Smith on Friday after learning about the longtime anchor’s departure from the network, suggesting that Smith’s exit was likely “because he had bad ratings.”
Speaking with reporters outside the White House on Friday, Trump appeared to not have known Smith was leaving the network. When asked by a reporter whether his administration had pressured Fox News to “get rid of” Smith, Trump said, “No, I don’t know. Is he leaving? Oh, that’s a shame.”
The president continued, “Wait, did I hear Shepard Smith was leaving? Is he leaving because of bad ratings? Tell me, I don’t know. He had terrible ratings.
“If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving because he had bad ratings. He had the worst ratings on Fox, so there’s a reason — why is Shepard Smith leaving?” the president said, without any factual support.
According to Nielsen Media Research, “Shepard Smith Reporting” averages 1.3 million total viewers and nearly 200,000 in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 news demographic. The program outpaces CNN and MSNBC’s daytime shows by double digits in both total viewers and demo. Among its cable news competitors, Smith’s show was also first in ratings for his time slot.
Until Friday’s announcement, Smith had been one of the network’s rare critics of Trump. The president, in turn, had also frequently tweeted his criticism of Smith; as of Thursday, Trump had singled Smith out in a thread of tweets disparaging Fox News over a poll the network had commissioned showing that 51% of Americans now favor Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.
But on Friday after the announcement, Trump said he had well wishes for Smith. “I wish him well,” the president said. “I wish Shepard Smith well.”
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 multiyear deal with Fox News for an undisclosed amount of money.
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.”
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 said.
Watch Trump’s remarks above.