Longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, one of the network’s primary hard-news voices and a frequent target of President Donald Trump’s ire, abruptly left the cable news channel on Friday.
Smith, 55, who had been with Fox since its inception in 1996, hosted his daily show at 3 p.m. Eastern for the last time. “Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter,” he said in a statement. “After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged.”
Under an agreement with Fox, Smith said, he “won’t be reporting elsewhere at least in the near future.”
While Fox’s prime-time shows have a decidedly conservative bent, delivered by hosts such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, the network plays it straighter during much of the rest of the day. Smith was known for pointing out the foibles of the Trump administration in a way that often angered the president.
Fox News “doesn’t deliver for US anymore,” Trump said Thursday in a tweet that mentioned Smith. The president said Friday that he assumed Smith was leaving the network due to weak ratings.
The network, part of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Corp., said a rotating lineup of anchors would fill in for Smith for now.
Smith’s departure stunned some of his Fox colleagues. In a tweet, Fox News anchor Bret Baier described learning about his departure as “a total shock” and said Smith anchored breaking-news events “better than anyone.”
Neil Cavuto, another Fox anchor, said he was “a little stunned and a little heartbroken.”