He was there from the very beginning. Shepard Smith was there in 1996 when Fox News was started from nothing to become the most watched cable news outlet in the world. Smith’s career soared along the way. He started as a general assignment reporter for the New York Bureau and worked his way through roles to include senior correspondent, chief news anchor and managing editor for breaking news. His current contract pays him a reported $15 million a year with several years left to run.
But none of this was enough to make him stay. Being chief news anchor wasn’t enough. Having 23 years in the job wasn’t enough. Appreciating his producers and staff wasn’t enough. Loving the work he did across the globe wasn’t enough. And the $15 million – yes, even that – wasn’t enough.
This Is Why Shepard Smith Ended His Career With Fox News
Yesterday at 3 p.m. Eastern, Shepard Smith held his regularly scheduled broadcast show, but there was nothing regular about the way he ended it. He closed with a bombshell. Smith announced that Friday’s episode would indeed be his last one ever on Fox News. He said goodbye to his audience, to his colleagues and to his Fox News career. This announcement seemed to stun his colleagues and the larger media world alike.
Based on reports from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CNN and NBC, it’s clear that people believe Shepard Smith left for different reasons. Some say he was forced out due to politics. Some say that power struggles with primetime news anchors are to blame. CNN reported that Smith had actually hired an attorney weeks ago to negotiate his exit because he desired to leave long before yesterday. What we do know is that he did indeed resign and that his angst and struggles with his employer weren’t as abrupt as it might originally seem. They had built up over time.
Ultimately, Shepard Smith left Fox News for the same reasons many regular folks leave their jobs every single day. The reports suggests that Smith didn’t feel fully supported by his superiors, he had an ethical conflict with the direction and integrity of the network, he just couldn’t take it any longer and had done all the good he could do in the role.
He didn’t feel that his superiors and executives had his back.
Bad bosses cause good employees to leave, and when employees – even high profile ones like Shepard Smith – lack organizational support, they can become demoralized.
Shepard Smith had a dust up – an on-air confrontation of sorts – with fellow news anchor, Tucker Carlson. Smith publicly defended a colleague (Fox News Contributor Andrew Napolitano) after Carlson permitted a guest of his show to disparage Napolitano. Rather than take a stand for Napolitano or for Smith, it has been reported that Fox News executives sided with Carlson in the fallout and warned Shepard Smith not to criticize Tucker Carlson again.
He felt some pressure to compromise his integrity or was facing an ethical dilemma.
When you value professional standards and your reputation, you do what you must to protect your integrity. You do what you must to guard against diminishing the respect you have for yourself and the respect others have for you. Money, titles, accomplishments and perceived success won’t outweigh or outlast integrity and ethical gaps.
As Shepard Smith signed off from his last show, he proclaimed that “facts will win the day.” We can reasonably surmise that Smith felt some sort of pressure to compromise his integrity going forward in order to remain in the good graces of network executives. His resignation shows that he didn’t want to do the balancing act any longer.
He couldn’t take it anymore and had done all the good he could do in his role.
CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that Smith “couldn’t take it anymore” and “had been marginalized” by Fox News. Based on the wide-ranging news coverage this departure garnered, it is clear that Smith’s departure is expected to leave a large void for Fox News. Journalists and anchors throughout media share that Smith fought a good fight and made a real difference as a journalist, news anchor, leader and truth teller.
Whatever the exact reason(s) for his departure, it is safe to conclude that Smith initiated his own departure rather than being forced out, and he decided that the cost to stay with Fox News was higher than the cost to leave. He decided that now would be the right time to close one chapter and start a new one.