It has been widely speculated that Shepard Smith is gay. It was rumored that in his recent contract negotiations with Fox News, he tried to get approval to “come out.” Fox News said no — undoubtedly thinking that their audience of conservative senior citizens would freak out about this. But I don’t exactly give Smith a pass on this. He has an estimated net worth of $20 million. He could easily get another job on a different network, although probably not making his current $10 million per year.
Of course, Smith’s problems at Fox News are not only that he’s probably gay. There are also rumors that he is secretly something even worse: liberal. Over the years, he has made comments that show a kind of open-mindedness that isn’t typical of conservatives — certainly not of the type that one finds on Fox News. Regardless, it is clear that Shepard Smith is not of the fire-breathing variety of conservatives. While supposedly straight news anchor Bret Baier has created a brand for himself as a straight-talking reporter, his bias is quite clear. I have no doubt that he could dust himself off and take over Sean Hannity’s show. That just isn’t the case with Smith.
Well, Shepard Smith is at it again! Yesterday on Shepard Smith Reporting, he took on the Ebola hysteria being promoted by the media. He said, “We do not have an outbreak of Ebola in the United States.” Of course, he didn’t state the obvious: that it is primarily right-wing media that is pushing all this hysteria. Check out Amanda Marcotte’s Salon article, Why Ebola Triggers Massive Right-Wing Hysteria. But he did call the coverage “irresponsible,” and I don’t think anyone can really question who he has in mind.
It is an amazing bit of television and and it speaks well of Shepard Smith for doing it. And it might actually have an effect on coverage. Since he was very careful not to call anyone out specifically, it may cause people to feel secretly ashamed and to at least ease up on the rhetoric. Or it may cause some people to double down. Smith did seem to be attacking Sean Hannity implicitly. Last week, on his radio program, Hannity said he wasn’t covering the CDC’s press conference on Ebola because, “I don’t trust them.” Yesterday, Smith said, “Suggestions have been made publicly that leaders and medical professionals may be lying to us. Those suggestions are completely without basis in fact.”
Smith also recommended getting a flu shot. He said, “Best advice for you and your family at this moment: get a flu shot. Unlike Ebola, flu is easily transmitted. Flu, along with resulting pneumonia, killed 52,000 Americans last year.” This is interesting because both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh has argued that people shouldn’t get flu shots and that they are a kind of government conspiracy. My father’s girlfriend died believing that flu shots were a conspiracy and my father still is highly skeptical of them.
In his five minute talk, Shepard Smith slayed a number of conservative dragons. And I wonder if he isn’t putting his job in jeopardy. He continues, in his quiet way, to push against so much of what Fox News stands for. But he’s probably safe. For one thing, I suspect the executives at Fox News may realize that they’ve gone too far on Ebola and that it isn’t even good from a political or ratings standpoint. It is also true that being reasonable is a big part of Smith’s brand. Just check out this video, Seven Times Shep Smith Was Fox News‘ Voice Of Reason:
No one is perfect, of course; but you gotta love this guy!