Shepard Smith may have what Time magazine calls “the hardest job on Fox News,” but he’s not going anywhere.
Fox News announced yesterday it has inked a multiyear contract renewal with the longtime anchor and University of Mississippi alumnus, even though Smith is known for telling the network’s viewers what they don’t want to hear.
“Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled,” Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement about the contract renewal. “His powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms has elevated our entire newsgathering process.”
Smith, a native of Holly Springs, is featured this week in a long-form profile at Time.com. He has often caught flak from conservatives who believe he is out of place on the network’s slate of programming. Smith anchors an afternoon straight-news show and also covers breaking news. When the mood strikes, he has been known to dispute and refute the claims and conspiracy theories of Fox News prime-time hosts like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.
More recently, Smith took to the air after the February school shooting at Parkland High School and read a list of schools that had endured fatal gun shootings in the years since Columbine, Time notes. And he also called out President Trump for allegedly caving into pressure from the NRA when he reversed his briefly held stance on raising the age limit for gun purchases.
“Why can’t they put the best and the brightest together to research [the problem of school shootings] and figure it out and help us stop it?” Smith asked on the air. “[We’re] failing our children.”
Smith told Time he doesn’t worry too much about the perceived divide between himself and Fox News’ conservative hosts. “We serve different masters,” he said. “We work for different reporting chains, we have different rules. They don’t really have rules on the opinion side. They can say whatever they want if it’s their opinion. I don’t really watch a lot of opinion programming. I’m busy.”
In response to Smith’s comments in the Time profile, both Hannity and Ingraham sniped at Smith on Twitter today. Hannity called Smith “clueless” about Hannity’s own show, while Ingraham said Smith’s statements about Fox News’ opinion programming were “inconsiderate & inaccurate.”
Smith is well aware that he is unpopular with many conservatives, but as a newsman rather than an opinion-show host, he said he has no plans to conform to their expectations. “If we start making changes, if ratings go down or viewers scream too much and we make changes to accommodate, we are in extreme dereliction of duty,” he told Time. “I cannot do it. I will not do it. I’ll quit. I’ll stop doing it completely.”
Smith also provided Time with a quote that has sparked headlines throughout the day. “I wonder,” he said, “if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place?”
Story by Rick Hynum. Email Rick at email@example.com