Shepard Smith made it very clear he wants nothing more to do with Fox. His frank interview with Christiane Amanpour concluded with him saying, “I haven’t been watching and I don’t plan to.”
While there's no doubt Fox has become especially poisonous in the Trump era, the network was divisive, hate-mongering propaganda back when I worked as a researcher for the 2004 documentary film, Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism. I was shocked when I began watching the network then and so disturbed that I'm still trying to tell the world about it all these years later. The main show I watched for the film was Shepard Smith’s The Fox Report. I am embedding Outfoxed below for anyone who doesn’t know how bad Fox has been all along. It’s still relevant.
Amanpour pressed Smith on the fact that Fox was always a vehicle for Republican propaganda and, to his credit, Smith did not deny it. He argued that he and some of his colleagues provided legit news coverage. He never claimed that Fox was a bastion of great journalism.
So although he never said so, I have to think that Smith acknowledges, at least to himself, what Fox always has been. In any event, he readily admits what it has become now.
Here’s Smith answering Amanpour about how he felt he when opinion programming began to impinge on the news side:
SMITH: I thought it was important that I stay there because I knew that I was grounded in [a journalistic] philosophy … and if you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or disinformation, I was there to make sure that they got it straight. There were a lot of others in there that were trying to do the same thing.
But I thought to just abandon it and to deprive those viewers of – it wasn’t just me – I mean, there’s an entire team of people getting the news to the air. 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 and at some point, I realized I’ve reached a point of diminishing returns and I left. But I’m proud of the work that we did there.
Amanpour asked how he feels now about Fox News, which she described as “the propaganda arm of the Republican party.”
SMITH: Well, I feel the same way about that now that I did then. And my goal was to just keep the blinders on and do my job to the best of my ability. And was I – I’m always concerned when people – opine all you like. But if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there. And it’s that, that deviation from that that has caused me the greatest concern and I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing. …
My point is not to malign Smith for working at Fox in the first place or to quarrel with the work he did there. But I would love to know more about how and when his "blinders" stopped working. Amanpour touched on that but never drew that out of him.
Whatever he once felt, Smith could not have made plainer his disgust for what goes on at Fox now.
SMITH: I slept very well. I don’t know how some people sleep at night because 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. And I hope that at some point, those who have done us harm as a nation, and I might even add as a world, will look around and realize what they’ve done. But I’m not holding my breath.
Nor does Smith dexpect much, if anything, to change at Fox with Trump out of office.
SMITH: To say that they’re not going to stay with their patterns would be surprising … My guess is [Fox] will turn to fighting [the Biden administration]. But I’ll tell you, I haven’t been watching and I don’t plan to.
You can watch CNN’s January 19, 2021 interview below.
I guess what he was saying was that he was fine with the spin so long as he didn’t have to lie and when Fox interfered with his truth telling, he left.
But that just seems to superficial and self-serving.
I’d prefer to think he had a real awakening to what Fox was up to and doesn’t want to admit that he was a part of all that all along.
From what I saw, Shep generally turned the other cheek to the fierce fraud that dominated his channel, relying on the distinction—which I don’t think most Fox viewers, including myself, made—between the news side and the opinion side. On the rare occasions when he stood up to the spin somewhat directly, he brought a knife to a gunfight. For example, amateur though I am, I seemed have done more research to debunk the Uranium One story than did Shep and his staff.
In my opinion, it has been not been the Republican Party, not Trump or any individual, not foreign disinformation, but right-wing media, led by Fox News, that has done the most to pollute the political discourse in our country over the last two decades. That puts Newshounds at the forefront of forces fighting for what boomers like me thought of as “truth, justice, and the American way”.
He’s damned cute, too.
What I saw and heard made me so friggin’ mad that I googled “mad at Fox News” and discovered this oasis of well-informed comment. Newshounds has never really tolerated the sort of comment based on trying to score points through hate-speech and vulgarity. My parents had always told us that insults and vulgarity thrive in the province of ignorance. Doesn’t matter what side of the matter one is on. That sort of talk is not only not conducive to constructive dialogue but basically “doing what we criticise the other side of doing”.
Any way, over the past 12 years, I’ve appreciated the calm, reasoned tone that prevails on this site. The occasional dips into raging anger are usually justified by the circumstances but those very same commenters have rapidly returned to a more controlled form of commenting. What a refreshing alternative to the adrenaline-charged comments on other sites! Even those I agree with.
Thank you, Ellen, Brian, Eric, and the others, for keeping this site alive and well.