Shepard Smith just surprised viewers with an abrupt departure from Fox News. He quit the network after working there for 23 years, starting at the Fox News Channel in 1996. His last edition of Shepard Smith Reporting aired Friday, October 11. Based on his address to viewers, it was his decision to leave -- as opposed to being fired -- since he said he recently "asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News." He added that, "after requesting that I stay, they obliged." Per his contract, Smith said he won't be reporting anywhere else in the near future.
Watch Shepard Smith's full speech to viewers:
Shepard Smith, age 55, didn't reveal when he asked to leave Fox News or what exactly led to that decision. His departure came less than 48 hours after Attorney General Bill Barr held a meeting with News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Jay Wallace, President & Executive Editor of Fox News Media, reacted to Shepard Smiths' departure with a statement (via Raw Story):
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. 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.
Here's a full transcript of Shepard Smith's parting words in his final broadcast for Fox News:
A personal moment now. Gathering and reporting the news has been my life’s work. 33 years, the past 23 right here, since the day we launched Fox News Channel in 1996. The opportunities afforded this guy from small-town Mississippi have been many. Fox News has allowed me to travel the world gathering the facts of the day for you. At Columbine, Katrina, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, 9/11, and every life altering event along the way. I have met leaders, heroes, and victims of all strides. I’ve witnessed and reported on the events that shaped our reality.
Together with my colleagues we have written a first draft of history and endeavored to deliver it to you while speaking truth to power without fear or favor it in context and with perspective.
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity. For handing me the breaking news reins as managing editor, senior correspondent, and chief news anchor for this network, I’m thankful and humbled. I’ve worked with the most talented, dedicated, and focus professionals I’ve ever known. They have sacrificed endlessly and tirelessly to get the news exactly right and I am so proud of them. And I’m honored to have anchored their work each day. I will miss them and our time together greatly and deeply.
So recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged. Under our agreement, I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future, but I will be able to see more of Gio and Lucia, and our friends and family and then we will see what comes along.
This is my last newscast here. Thank you for watching today and over the decades as I traveled to many of your communities and anchored this program, Studio B, and Fox Report. Plus endless marathon hours of breaking news.
It has been an honor and my pleasure. Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive. I‘m Shepard Smith. Fox News, New York.
Fox News has been a cable ratings juggernaut but it's had its share of drama behind-the-scenes, and some will be showcased in the film Bombshell coming December 20.
Last year, Justice With Judge Jeanine host Jeanine Pirro had an episode pulled due to controversy, and Fox News fired a contributor after tweets related to the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Shepard Smith himself also apologized for Fox News several years ago when the team "messed up" and aired a violent suicide attempt instead of cutting away.
Meanwhile, this is a time of drama and change for TV news in general -- from new allegations against former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer to the much less controversial but still sad surprise TV departure of Nancy O'Dell from ET, among other recent shakeups behind-the-scenes. Meanwhile, keep up with everything still premiering on TV this fall with our handy 2019 schedule.