President says: Is he leaving? Oh thats a shame after departure of anchor who had repeatedly called out Trumps falsehoods
Shepard Smith, the Fox News anchor who was arguably most critical of Donald Trump, left the network on Friday.
As he did so, he expressed the hope that facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.
Smiths departure comes amid evidence of a schism between news and opinion anchors at Fox News, over Trump and the networks coverage of him.
Smith has repeatedly called out the president for his falsehoods and his attacks on the media. Late last month, he condemned Trumps false corruption allegations against Joe Biden, now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, as baseless and a conspiracy theory.
But Trumps tweets reveal him still to be an avid Fox News viewer and opinion hosts including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham remain fervent supporters.
Furthermore, former Trump aides including Hope Hicks and Sarah Sanders are now on the Fox News payroll.
This week, the attorney general, William Barr, was reported to have met the Fox News owner, Rupert Murdoch, in private in New York.
Smith signed a three-year contract extension with Fox News last year but on Friday he announced his departure on air, telling viewers he had asked to leave.
Gathering and reporting the news has been my lifes work, he said. Thirty-three years, the last 23 right here, since we launched Fox News channel in 1996. The opportunities afforded this guy from small-town Mississippi have been many.
Smith listed big stories he worked on, including the 9/11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the Columbine school shooting. He said he had endeavored to speak truth to power without fear or favor, in context and with respect.
Recently I asked the company to be allowed to leave Fox News, he said. After asking that I stay, they obliged.
The anchor said he would not be reporting elsewhere for the time being.
Even in our currently polarized nation, he concluded, it is my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive.