Longtime Fox News host Shepard Smith announced that he is stepping down as chief news anchor and leaving the network.
“This is my last newscast here,” Smith said before adding that he was “eternally grateful” to Fox.
Smith, 55, said that he asked Fox to allow him to leave.
“After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged,” Smith said in a statement, adding that under the agreement, he “won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future.”
“The opportunities afforded this guy from a small town in Mississippi have been many,” he added. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective.”
He added: “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.”
Fox News chief Jay Wallace, who was once Smith’s producer, also gave a statement: “Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry. His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put Fox News on the map and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery.”
Wallace continued: “We are proud of the signature reporting and anchoring style he honed at Fox News, along with everything he accomplished here during his monumental 23-year tenure. While this day is especially difficult as his former producer, we respect his decision and are deeply grateful for his immense contributions to the entire network.”
Fox News’ Neil Cavuto said that he was stunned by Smith’s departure.
“I’m a little stunned and a little heartbroken. I don’t know what to say,” he remarked on his show.
“A better newsman you probably cannot find,” he said, according to Mediaite. “A bigger, more emotionally connected to human kind you cannot find. So Shepard, I don’t know what the heck you’re planning to do or where you go, but I just know you’ll be great at doing it, and you deserve the best that life has to offer.”
Smith extended his contract with Fox just over a year ago, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal noted that Smith often took shots at opinion hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. About a month ago, Smith and Carlson criticized each other on their respective shows.
Carlson was critical of statements made by Andrew Napolitano on Smith’s show about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Smith then responded in turn that “attacking our colleague, who is here to offer legal assessments, on our air in our work home is repugnant,” the newspaper reported.
Trump also often pilloried Smith. “Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews,” he tweeted.