David Shepard "Shep" Smith (born January 14, 1964) is American broadcast journalist best known for his 23-year career at Fox News, having been with the network from its inception in 1996 until 2019. During his time with the channel, he served as a field correspondent and anchored several news programs, including Fox Report with Shepard Smith, Studio B and Shepard Smith Reporting.
Born and raised in northern Mississippi with the accent to prove it, Smith attended "Ole Miss"* as a journalism major, leaving two credits short of graduation when he got his first reporting job. He still has a deep bond with the university, however, being a die-hard Ole Miss football fan in particular with a burning hatred of LSU.note
On air, he is known for his energetic, straight-talking, no-nonsense, and decidedly nonpartisan reporting style, leavened with a heavy dose of sarcasm when the occasion calls for it. Fellow anchor Rachel Maddow (yes, of MSNBC) has said that he is better than anyone else in the industry at pulling off both "regular guy" news commentary and "Voice of God" gravitas with equal facility, while Smith himself says that he tries to bring excitement to everyday stories, but to be as calm and "zen" as possible during times of national tragedy because that's when calm is most needed. His cool was notably shattered, however, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, in which a 32-foot wall of water obliterated the Gulf Coast of his home state; along with Anderson Cooper, he is heavily credited with bringing national attention to the catastrophic failure of government relief efforts on the local, state, and federal levels, and he reported live from Louisiana and Mississippi for several weeks in the wake of the disaster. He rarely talks about the experience now, citing it as too painful to revisit.
He is also famous for refusing to let his guests get away with lying and for his hard-hitting questions, including demanding answers to the blockage of the Zadroga Billnote in Congress, roundly scolding the news networks (including his own) for fear-mongering when isolated cases of Ebola virus were brought to the United States, and making his opposition to the use of torture in interrogation brutally clear during a live webcast. His ratings explain why he gets away with challenging the party line so regularly; his is the highest-rated news program on the channel (and, in fact, all of cable news), one of the highest-rated programs on the channel full-stop, and he is easily Fox's most trusted and respected anchor.
He began anchoring The Fox Report with Shepard Smith (7pm ET) in 1999 and Studio B (3pm ET) in 2002. With his shift to managing editor of the Breaking News Division in 2013, he left The Fox Report, and Studio B was retooled into Shepard Smith Reporting, keeping the former's time slot but moving to an all-new studio exclusively for the Breaking News Division. The "Fox News Deck", also the network hub for breaking news, is the only Fox studio used by only one anchor.
He officially came out of the closet as gay in 2017, though his sexuality had been an open secret for years before that.
On October 2019, Smith stunned viewers and colleagues when he announced on Shepard Smith Reporting that he was leaving Fox News.
In July 2020, CNBC announced that Smith would join the network as chief general news anchor and chief general breaking news anchor, now hosting The News with Shepard Smith, a primetime general news program that airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. ET and launched on September 30, 2020. CNBC later canceled Smith's show in November 2022 as part of a return to focus on business and financial news, and Smith left the network later that month.
- The Fox Report With Shepard Smith (FNC, 1999-2013)
- Studio B (FNC, 2002-2013)
- Shepard Smith Reporting (FNC, 2013-2019)
- The News with Shepard Smith (CNBC, 2020-2022)
Ahead, tropes from The Fox Report/Studio B/Shepard Smith Reporting/The News with Shepard Smith, etc. Let's get to it:
- Affectionate Nickname: As you'd expect from Shep.
- The man himself is officially "Shepard Smith", but known mostly as just "Shep".
- Associate producer Lillian Wilson, who frequently appears on-camera, is often called simply "Lil".
- Allergic to Routine: Shep hates being bored, and a bored Shep tends to be a Shep who goes off on tangents to rant about things like tourist buses, Mitt Romney's 'mom jeans', the wonders of Candy Crush, and Ole Miss' chances against LSU. He's always looking for excitement, and when he can't find it, he makes it. The reason he left his 7pm hour and moved to manage the Breaking News Division was because he was utterly bored by reading the news from a teleprompter; he finds dealing with breaking news all day, every day, vastly more interesting — if still not quite as interesting as being in the field.
- Angrish: When he gets sufficiently outraged, he tends to start sputtering. Just one example.
- Angry Fist-Shake: A collision between two New York City tour buses prompts Shep to deliver a rant about just how much he hates the damn things and wishes they would all vanish off the face of the planet because they make the city undrivable and hard to navigate, complete with this trope.
- Armor-Piercing Question: He has developed a reputation for puncturing the rhetoric of the neoconservative right with well-timed questions that can leave his guests gaping. For example, while interviewing Rick Santorum on gay marriage and gay rights:Shep: How long do you think it'll be before you [conservatives] catch up with the rest of the country?
- Berserk Button: The 2016 Presidents' Day broadcast, which coincided with a winter storm hitting parts of the States, prompted a Running Gag in which Shep seethed over the fact that NBC kept naming storms without actually owning them, and proclaimed repeatedly that his channel was going to name this one.
- The Big Board: The Fox News Deck has a wall of video monitors that's two stories tall. It's usually used for displaying news footage or weather maps.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Candy Crush. Mom jeans. Tourist buses. True Blood. Great newscaster he might be, but Shep Smith does like to go off on random tangents. (Fortunately, they're usually hilarious.)
- Bile Fascination: Deliberately averted. Shep flatly refuses to show ISIS/terrorist videos on air. He will describe the contents thereof, but he won't show them.
- Brutal Honesty: This is a trademark of his. Whenever he thinks someone is being rude, wrong, or outright stupid, he doesn't hesitate to say so. For example:Shep: Mitt Romney has released a statement on the departure of Newt Gingrich from the campaign. It reads, in part, 'Ann and I are proud to call Newt and Callista friends and we look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.' That from Mitt Romney. [looks straight at camera] Politics is weird. And creepy. And now I know lacks even the loosest attachment to anything like reality.
- Buffy Speak: He can devolve into this when he's commentating on something wacky, hilarious, or just plain weird. Notably, this trait entirely vanishes when he goes into "Voice of God" mode, with him trading it in for Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness instead.
- "Let's get to it."
- "It's the bottom of the hour and the top of the news..."note
- "When news breaks out, we'll break in, 'cause breaking news changes everything on the Fox News Channel."
- "Stay calm and carry on."note
- "We'll be back with a nod to this day in history..."
- "Man alive!"
- "...[our] 'shining city on a hill...'"note
- Deadpan Snarker: He will bring the snark to whatever ridiculous story he feels deserves it; wisely, he also knows when to drop the snark and switch to what Rachel Maddow called "Voice of God" gravitas, which makes the snark even more effective.Shep: If it's crazy and outlandish, treat it that way. If it's serious and important, treat it that way. There's no reason news has to be delivered in a monotone.
- Dissonant Serenity: The more chaotic and heartbreaking the news gets, the calmer and more zen he gets, because he knows that he is a touchstone for the public and he has to stay calm for their sake to avoid spreading panic.
- Eagleland: Though he has no illusions about the country's many, many flaws — and points them out, frequently, on national television — he is also quite clearly a firm believer in the idealistic Type 1, and is fond of the Ronald Reagan quote regarding the United States as being a "shining city on a hill." Many of his most famous rants boil down to "...but America is better than this!"
- Every Episode Ending: Unless something really serious has happened,note almost every episode of Shepard Smith Reporting ends with "This Day in History", a quick factoid on something interesting, important, or just plain weird that happened on that particular day any number of years in the past.
- Everything Is an iPod in the Future: As Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Fox News Deck looks like "an Apple Genius Bar threw up" in the newsroom. That said, the aesthetic does suit Smith's fast-paced delivery and energetic, "never sit when you can stand, and never stand when you can walk" anchoring style.
- Fandom Rivalry: Invoked. As a die-hard Ole Miss fan ("Hotty Toddy!"), he loathes Louisiana State University. Friday broadcasts during college football season almost invariably end with (or contain) someone ragging on him about that weekend's upcoming game (and at least one insult to LSU). Just one example.James Carville: Hey, Shep! Give us a couple bellows of "Hotty Toddy!"Shep: [gleefully] Hotty toddy, gosh almighty, Ole Miss gonna beat somebody, LSU SUCKS!!
- Fatal Method Acting: In September 2012, Studio B accidentally aired a live suicide at the end of a car chase — despite the built-in delay, the control room didn't get off the feed in time, even as a horrified Shep demanded, "Get off it, get off it!" After the feed had been cut, the channel went straight to commercial. Shep, visibly shaken, then profusely apologised, saying that they had "really messed up" and nothing like that would ever happen again on his watch.
- Friendly Rivalry: He gets on quite well with people you'd expect to be his mortal enemies.
- He and Rachel Maddow have something of a mutual respect society going on; Smith even nominated her for the Ice Bucket Challenge. (She took him up on it.) They've admitted that while their channels are definitely rivals, they actually like each other.Rachel: So when I heard that somebody at Fox News had said I should go soak my head, I was like, 'Yeah, happy Tuesday. What else is new?' But then I found out it was Shep Smith — ah! More interesting! Turns out it's Chilling 4 Charity — it's the ice bucket challenge [and] I now have to pass it on. So because I am about to have that bucket of ice water dumped on my head, Shep is going to have to make a fifty dollar donation in my name to his chosen charity.
- Not only did he formerly have an apartment in the same building as Jon Stewart, Shep is an acknowledged fan of both The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, noting that he finds them extremely funny and watches them regularly. Stewart, meanwhile, notes that Shep is one of the few people at Fox whom he genuinely likes, calling him a "real newsman". Though never shy of good-naturedly mocking some of Shep's odder moments — and his bright, shiny new Fox News Deck — Stewart also never went after his credibility or journalistic ethics, making his respect quite clear.
- Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that Shep was his second-favorite anchor on FOX (his favorite being Martha McCallum, a high school friend), and as noted above, Shep is an avowed fan of the Report and of Colbert in general.
- He and Rachel Maddow have something of a mutual respect society going on; Smith even nominated her for the Ice Bucket Challenge. (She took him up on it.) They've admitted that while their channels are definitely rivals, they actually like each other.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Quoth Shep, "I'm a journalist, I run to the fire, it's what we do."
- Hot Pursuit: Shep used to love commentating on car chases, including once giving a man jumping off the back of a big rig an 8.9 on his jump, and generally treated them like pure entertainment. Sadly for those who loved his commentary, he has (understandably) been extremely hesitant to show such things since a man involved in a police chase committed suicide live on air while a horrified Shep demanded that his control room "get off it, get off it!" (cut the feed).
- Intrepid Reporter: If he can find an excuse to go out in the field — even as a news anchor and managing editor — he will. He's reported live from, among others, Japan in the aftermath of Fukushima, Boston after the Boston Marathon bombing, and, most notably, New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina.
- Irrational Hatred: While they do make driving in New York more difficult, Shep loathes NYC tour buses to a possibly irrational degree. And he explains why. At considerable length.Shep: These tour buses are a disaster! And they should be removed from the face of the planet! They should never be allowed in New York! They are destroying our city, I hate you!!
- It's Personal:
- Hurricane Katrina devastated his home state of Mississippi. Though the death and destruction of the hurricane's aftermath traumatized all the anchors who covered it on location, it particularly affected Shep, to the point where he still finds it hard to talk about ten years later.Shep: My state got killed by [Katrina]. The south end of Mississippi, gone. And we couldn't even get there to tell you about it! The reason you did not have live people screaming at you from Mississippi in the hours after that storm was... because if they were there, they were dead! It was a 32-foot wall of water that came into my state. New Orleans got spared again - they couldn’t even take being spared! ...they were so poorly prepared they couldn’t even take a brush the equivalent of a Category 2 storm in a big surge and it killed thousands of people. It will happen again. And it will be worse.
- It was equally personal when the BP oil spill devastated the Gulf Coast, including the coast of Mississippi. He practically tanned the hide of BP then-CEO Tony Hayward for dismissing the extent of the disaster, speaking not just as an American, but as a Mississippian.
- Hurricane Katrina devastated his home state of Mississippi. Though the death and destruction of the hurricane's aftermath traumatized all the anchors who covered it on location, it particularly affected Shep, to the point where he still finds it hard to talk about ten years later.
- Large Ham: Magnificently. Witness his rant about the evils of the Krispy Kreme Burger. Conversely, the absence of this trope — when he shelves the ham entirely and switches to "Voice of God" mode — is a sign that Things Are Very Very Serious Right Now.
- Long Runner: He was with Fox News for 23 years, from 1996 to 2019, and spent all but three years of that time as a broadcast anchor.
- Mundane Utility: The Fox News Deck has an array of extremely oversized iPads, usually used for monitoring breaking news. On one particularly slow news day, though, Shep spent five solid minutes using one to play Candy Crush while rambling on about how addicted he is to the game. (It was actually part of a story on how much money Candy Crush has been raking in, but... mostly it was an excuse for Shep to play Candy Crush on an oversized iPad.)
- Must Have Caffeine: Apparently, he lives on Diet Coke.
- News Broadcast: His 7pm hour, The Fox Report, from 1999 until 2013, was this. Though Shepard Smith Reporting airs earlier than the usual (at 3pm EST), as the managing editor of the network's Breaking News Division, he makes the call as to whether or not breaking news overrides whatever programs are on the schedule and he will break in to them at his discretion; he also serves as the chief anchor of all breaking news reports, no matter the timeslot.
- Only Sane Man: Such names as Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, and Cenk Uygur saw him as this for Fox News as a whole during his tenure in the channel. There is no room for extreme political opinions on Shep's broadcast, from either the Democratic or the Republican side. As the page quote says, "This is the news." This became especially more notable during the Donald Trump administration, when several of the channel's pundits, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and the hosts of Fox & Friends gained notoriety exactly for controversial political opinions and not-quite-accurate statements done in support of Trump (some of which sometimes Shep himself had to fact check).
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Though he loves to go classic Large Ham on lighter stories, Shep is legendary for being unflappable while covering even the most serious news events, going somewhere very calm and "zen" to minimize spreading panic among his viewers (who, he notes, are scared enough already in any situation when he has to go "Voice of God"). But after nearly a week as witness to the harrowing conditions in post-Katrina New Orleans, Shep finally lost his cool, sounding nothing short of desperate for the government to do something — anything — for the starving, dying people of the Mississippi Delta. His loss of composure spoke volumes about how dire the situation was; alongside colleague Giraldo Rivera and CNN's Anderson Cooper, he is heavily credited with drawing public attention to the crisis on the Gulf Coast and forcing federal relief efforts into the area sooner than they might have otherwise arrived.
- Pompous Political Pundit: Sharply (and deliberately) averted, despite his host channel, as summed up by the page quote. Smith has said that not even his closest friends and family know how he'd vote in an election — he keeps his opinions that much to himself.Shep: I don’t think much of extremes. We’re in a period where polarization may work great for Democrats and Republicans. But most Americans seem to be somewhere in the middle saying, ‘Stay out of my bedroom. Stop spending all my money. And stop arguing with each other about things that really aren’t of the utmost importance.’ They sit in Washington bickering about who’s better and worse, and that leaves all of us in the middle.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shep is quite deliberately both, alternating between the two depending on the story he's covering and what responses he wants to invoke in his audience. When it's a relatively slow news day, he deliberately ramps up the excitement for his viewers, knowing that if he is excited they will be as well, and delivers car chases, celebrity misdemeanours, rants about tourist buses, and hilarious observations on Mitt Romney's "mom jeans" (among other antics). Conversely, in the middle of a mass shooting, terrorist attack, or other crisis, he goes into a very zen, "Voice of God" mode deliberately designed to minimise panic among his audience while still making the seriousness of the situation exquisitely clear. A shining example of the latter occurred during the November 2015 Paris attacks, during which Shep anchored nearly five straight hours of breaking news coverage — on the fly, entirely without a prompter, in the midst of a terrorist incident the likes of which hadn't been seen since Mumbai — while remaining as cool and collected as possible despite the worldwide chaos.
- Running Gag: On the January 25, 2016 episode: "It snowed over the weekend."note
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: He says he tried to stay on at Fox as long as he could because he was proud of the work his team was doing and wanted viewers to get some kind of straight news. He ultimately came to believe he was fighting a losing battle with the seeping in of the opinion side of the business and left. He believes that there is room for opinion shows on any cable news network but opinion should be based on facts and that the line between opinion and misinformation there was getting too blurred.
- Serious Business: College football. His dedication to his Ole Miss Rebels is positively legendary, and he doesn't keep it off the air.Rachel Maddow: ...[Shep is] such a crazed football fan that at some point he will cast a bet on a game that results in a face tattoo.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Though not to the levels seen with, say, Keith Olbermann, Shep's "Voice of God" speeches (particularly his "This Is No Time To Panic" moments, detailed below) tend to be heralded by compound sentences, eloquent, somewhat formal phrases, and a distinct increase in the level of vocabulary. Especially in contrast with his "just one of the guys" car chase narrations and rants about whatever tangent is currently on his mind, it's basically a big, flashing neon sign saying, "This is serious! Pay attention!"
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Well, a news anchor veteran rather than a military one, but the effect is still the same: He was already a prime-time anchor when 9/11 hit. Like his experiences with Katrina, he finds the aftermath of the attacks incredibly difficult to talk about; "'I didn't want to remember what that day was like,' he says. 'I still don't want to remember. I hate this day. It's hard every year.'" Some fourteen years and a handful of weeks later, breaking news of coordinated ISIS attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 brought back memories of that painful day; he said, as he had in 2001, that the world would wake to "a new normal", and that he had never in his 25 years in broadcasting covered anything like it.
- Take That!: While ranting about how much he hates NYC tour buses, Shep pointed out where various news organizations were located around the scene of the collision, then grumbled that CNN was "...off looking for a plane or something...'' (referencing the network's obsession with the missing Flight 370).
- Tear Jerker: After the death of Roger Ailes, Shep gave a heartbreaker of an eulogy for him, one that acknowledged both his faults and his good points, complete with Manly Tears. It's particularly tearjerking because Shep has been with the channel since before it even existed.
- This Is No Time to Panic: When something bad happens, Shep almost invariably gives at least one speech that could be boiled down to "CALM DOWN."
- When the media started yammering on about an ebola epidemic in the United States, Shep took four minutes to walk everybody through the relevant facts (i.e. yes, a handful of isolated cases had occurred from one passenger who got sick in Africa, but said cases were limited to the traveller himself and those who had treated him without taking precautions, and no, there was no epidemic nor any evidence of one), concluding with calling out the collective media (including his own channel) for fear-mongering. (Then told everyone to get a flu shot, because flu, unlike ebola, is an actual problem.)
- In the wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks, Shep hammered home that the least productive thing Americans could do would be to give into fear, because "Our ‘shining city on a hill’ is vulnerable - we’ve always known that. If we change it to accommodate the savages, have they won? And what, then, would be left to protect?" He relentlessly pointed out that giving in to fear is exactly what the terrorists want, and therefore we must do no such thing.
- This Just In!: A point of pride for him is that his team can and will change a broadcast on the fly in the wake of breaking news, as you'd expect from the division's managing editor. See also We Interrupt This Program.
- Throwing Out the Script: Shep is most in his element when the news bulletins are coming fast and furious and he has a panicked audience, no preparation, no advance warning, and nothing on the prompter to guide him. An exemplary case occurred during the November 2015 Paris attacks, as serious a situation as any he had ever covered during his career, during which he spent nearly five straight hours in front of the cameras reassuring his frightened viewers while keeping them apprised of ongoing developments in the story — developments of which he himself had often only just heard seconds before.
- Tranquil Fury: His dressing-down of BP's then-CEO Tony Hayward in the wake of the BP Oil Spill didn't involve him raising his voice even once — and there are few moments in his career when he has been more visibly angry on-camera.
- Transparent Closet: He officially came out of the closet in early 2017, but when asked about it, he noted, "I didn't think I was in."
- Ultimate Job Security: Shep deals in these pesky things called "facts", not whatever hysteria the right wing has decided should be their party line that day, and as a result he winds up bucking that party line quite frequently. That would generally not be a problem if not for the fact that Shep's channel, Fox News, is the right-wing politics' news channel in the United States. Granted, his version of "bucking" lands him dead center politically, certainly nowhere near the far left, but on Fox News, "dead center" might as well be "pinko commie liberal land". He gets away with it because a) his is specifically a news show, not opinion, b) his ratings are sky-high, c) he's been with Fox News since there's been a Fox News, and d) he has a record of polling as extremely trustworthy (and beloved) among the general public.note People have been wondering when he'll be fired since at least 2005. Instead Roger Ailesnote handed him a Federation starship of a brand-spanking-new news studio and made him managing editor of the entire Breaking News Division, as you do. This only made the sudden announcement of Shep leaving the channel in 2019 all the more shocking.note
- The Watson: He asks quite a few questions on his broadcasts that he already knows the answer to, but the audience doesn't, so whichever expert he has on the program can explain things to viewers. Justified here in that these are genuinely things most viewers would not know, not having the sources or access that major journalists do. Particularly common with national security (in which Catherine Herridge does the explaining) and complicated legal issues (in which Judge Andrew Napolitano tends to), but any expert can do the explaining. Sometimes lampshaded via sarcasm, in which Shep asks a question to which he clearly knows the answer is going to be 'no' — particularly when 'yes' would be the common-sense response — as a way of highlighting the absurdity of the situation in question.
- We Interrupt This Program: Shepard Smith Reporting's closing tagline is "When news breaks out, we'll break in, 'cause breaking news changes everything." A huge part of his job as managing editor of breaking news is deciding when to override the network's evening programs; he also serves as chief anchor for all major breaking news reports network-wide. Fortunately for him, reporting breaking news is what he loves to do; to quote a fictional executive producer, "Nothing on the prompter is what this man eats for breakfast."
- You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Shep opens one edition of Studio B with "Are you kidding me?!"" while covering one of the wackiest Hot Pursuit chases ever seen on television. (Long story short: Owner of carjacked big rig is clinging on to the back of said rig while it's being chased by police. Yeah.)