Shepard Smith is stepping down from his long-held position at Fox News, where his nonpartisan voice stood out on the conservative-leaning channel.
Smith reported on some of the buzziest stories of the last 23 years, from O.J. Simpson’s civil trial to the Florida recount to President Trump doubling down on his Alabama error as Hurricane Dorian loomed. There were a number of gaffes along the way too, as happens over the course of decades.
Throughout his career at Fox News — he was with the network when it launched in `1996 — his straightforward approach to news granted the media outlet credibility, and his departure is likely to be a blow to its efforts to remain a reliable news operation.
Smith has had media wonks buzzing. There have been reports that the relationship between Smith and Fox News management had grown increasingly tense, especially with regard to the network’s opinion hosts. Rumors — denied by the network — asserted that he was told by management to lay off in his recent feud with opinion host Tucker Carlson or he would find himself off the air. But Smith’s motivation for parting ways with the network remains officially unknown.
Here’s a select, eclectic timeline of some highs and lows from Smith’s time at Fox News:
1997: O.J. Simpson, Gianni Versace and Princess Diana
Then a reporter, Smith covered high-profile stories around the world. Early in the year, he was in Los Angeles to report on O.J. Simpson’s civil trial. That July he covered the murder of designer Gianni Versace in Miami’s South Beach by Andrew Cunanan, then that September went to London to cover the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, who was 36 when she died in a car crash while fleeing the paparazzi in Paris.
1998: Impeachment of President Clinton
After two years on Fox News’ payroll, Smith was dispatched to Washington, D.C., to report as the Republican-majority House impeached Clinton for lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice in the Paula Jones case.
1999: The Columbine massacre
Smith covered the Columbine High School massacre. In 2018, during coverage of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, he took time out of his broadcast and got emotional listing the 24 school shootings that had taken place in the U.S. in that 19-year period between Columbine and Parkland, which was the 25th.
2000: The Florida recount
Dispatched to Florida to cover the historic Bush-Gore recount, Smith hit a minor speed bump when he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery after a parking-space disagreement with another journalist turned violent. Smith allegedly ran his car into the other reporter, Maureen Walsh, who sustained some bruises. Smith eventually saw the felony charge downgraded to a misdemeanor, to which he pleaded not guilty. George W. Bush won the recount and the presidential election.
2002: The Jennifer Lopez slip-up
It was one of the most cringeworthy moments of Smith’s career: While talking about Jennifer Lopez’s hit song “Jenny From the Block,” the anchor accidentally said, “But folks from that street in New York, the Bronx section, sound more likely to give her a curb job” than another kind of job. He’d intended to finish with “than a block party,” but only got through the “bl” before blurting out a slang term for oral sex. He later apologized, saying, “Sorry about that slip-up there. I have no idea how that happened, but it won’t happen again.”
2005: Hurricane Katrina
Smith traveled to New Orleans, where he reported on site amid the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, interviewing victims who had lost everything and had nowhere to go. His reports highlighted the destruction and hopelessness that officials initially said were nonexistent in the days after the storm.
2012: The suicide video
Smith apologized to viewers after Fox News aired live video of a carjacker shooting himself in the head. During his afternoon show, the network was following a police chase near Phoenix. While Smith narrated the carjacker’s movements, the man unexpectedly pulled out a gun and died by suicide. After a commercial break, Smith apologized to viewers:“We really messed up. And we’re all very sorry. That didn’t belong on TV.”
2013: Papal conclave
Fox News sent Smith as one of a select group of journalists commissioned to document the selection of the new election of the new pope — or so they thought. As it turned out, the papal conclave elected not to choose a new pope that day, resulting in a stunning show of symbolic black smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel. A day later, Pope Francis was appointed as the new head of the church.
2015: Mona Lisa and Leonardo DiCaprio flub
In a hilarious gaffe, the journalist accidentally credited actor Leonardo DiCaprio with painting the “Mona Lisa,” instead of real Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. The botched Fox segment, about a mission to identify the model for the Louvre staple, soon went viral on social media.
2019: Trump call-out on Hurricane Dorian
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The TV anchor went after President Trump for wrongly warning that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama and then refusing to admit his mistake. Smith called POTUS’ warning “fake news defined” and strongly criticized him for insisting he was right. “Some things in Trumplandia are inexplicable,” Smith said.