Speaking with Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, Shep Smith appeared to slam Fox News — his former employer — as he explained why he decided to leave the network after 23 years, describing to CNN how his presence on Fox was “untenable as opinion shows on the network spread falsehoods that hosts knew were lies.”
Smith joined Fox News in 1996 when the organization was founded, and left in October 2019 in the middle of a three-year contract. He now hosts “The News with Shepard Smith,” on CNBC. Speaking with Amanpour, Smith was asked whether Fox News “perpetuated so many of the divisions, the lies, the conspiracies,” with the goal of becoming “the propaganda arm of the Republican Party.”
“Opine all you like, but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there,” Smith responded. “And it’s that deviation from that that has caused me the greatest concern.”
“I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people to astray, that’s injurious to society, and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing,” Smith said. “Those of us who are so honored and grateful to have a platform of influence have to use it for the public good.”
Back in 2019, CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote that Fox News’ “lack of a vocal defense for Smith” following Tucker Carlson’s apparent criticism of the anchor “bothered him and the whole episode factored into his decision to leave,” and “was just one of many skirmishes that weighed heavily on Smith.” Sean Hannity, another major Fox News star, reportedly called Smith “so anti-Trump” on his radio show, and “clueless” on Twitter, according to Newsweek.
The bulk of Smith’s criticism centered around the accusation that Fox News is engaging in the intentional spread of misinformation and disinformation,
“I stuck with it as long as I could, and at some point, I realized I’ve reached a point of diminishing returns and I left,” said Smith. “But I’m proud of the work that we did there.”
“I stuck with it as long as I could,” says former Fox News host Shep Smith. But does he think some of his former colleagues spread disinformation? “I don’t know how some people sleep at night… There are a lot of people… who are smart enough and educated enough to know better.” pic.twitter.com/pqrOhVuKgR
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) January 19, 2021
“I don’t know how some people sleep at night,” Smith added. “I know that there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies and have pushed them forward over and over again who are smart enough and educated enough to know better.”
“If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or disinformation, I was there to make sure that they got it straight,” Smith said. “There were a lot of others in there who were trying to do the same thing. But I thought to just abandon it and to deprive those viewers … to deny them that, with the thought that they might replace it with opinion instead, seemed a little selfish. So I stuck with it for as long as I could.”
While Smith left Fox News in 2019 as a daytime host, such comments add to the commentary regarding changes that are ongoing at the conservative media giant, who recently announced a “revamp” of their daytime schedule.
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