• 61°

Ole Miss Alum Shepard Smith leaves Fox News

Shepard Smith, veteran newscaster and Ole Miss alumnusannounced Friday afternoon that he was leaving Fox News Channel after more than 20 years. 

Smith said at the end of his daily newscast on Friday that he had asked the network to let him out of his contract and it had agreed. 

“Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter,” Smith said. “After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged. The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor. I’ve worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I’m proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them.” 

Even in the current polarized environment, Smith said, “It’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the facts will always matter and journalism and journalists will thrive.” 

Neil Cavuto, who anchors the broadcast following Smith’s, looked shocked after the announcement. 

“Whoa,” Cavuto said. “Like you, I’m a little stunned.” 

Smith’s departure also comes one day after Attorney General William Barr met privately with media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox News. President Trump has been increasingly critical of personalities on Fox News that he views as disloyal. Smith had become one such target. 

On his afternoon newscast, Smith had frequently given tough reports debunking statements made by Trump and his supporters — even the Fox News opinion hosts that rule the network’s prime-time lineup. 

Two weeks ago, Smith clashed with Tucker Carlson when an analyst on Smith’s program, Andrew Napolitano, said that it was a crime for President Trump to solicit aid for his campaign from a foreign government, in this case the Ukraine. Later that night, Carlson asked his own analyst, Joseph diGenova, to comment and he called Napolitano a fool. 

The next day, Smith said that “attacking our colleague who is here to offer legal assessments, on our air, in our work home, is repugnant.” 

The 3 p.m. hour on Fox News will be hosted by “a series of rotating anchors…until a new dayside news program is announced,” the network said. 

During his on-air signoff, Smith referenced a non-compete clause in his agreement with the network, meaning, “I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.