Don’t throw big rocks: it’s another media story today. But this one is probably unexpected by most of you. I’ve had about enough of Shepard Smith. Until about a year ago I really enjoyed his show — especially his news delivery style. It is very unique. But some time after the Republican Convention’s nomination of Donald Trump to head the GOP ticket, Shep seemed to downshift and started his solo derision of then Candidate Trump. His frequent “Trump tirades” have continued even after the Inauguration and seem to almost daily become more angry and vitriolic.
I know, I know: some will say my opinion changed just because he came out as being gay. That’s not true. However, his downward spiral into what seems to now often be the same news approach as those at CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post began about the same time as his sexual preference announcement. Let’s look at some:
“It’s sort of our job to let you know when things are said that aren’t true,” Smith began. “This president keeps telling untrue things and he does it every single time he’s in front of a microphone … some of them aren’t really big, but they’re coming from the president.” Smith continued, “He says Russia is a ruse, it’s fake news. The leaks are real, but the news is fake. So, that’s impossible,” Smith said later adding, “it’s very confusing.” The Fox News host then repeated that it is his job to point out when the President of the United States says things that are “demonstrably, unquestionably, opinion aside, 100 percent false.”
And that’s just the beginning. In this “Trump tirade” Shep almost came unhinged: He slammed Trump for deflecting blame onto reporters and attempting to de-legitimize negative stories about his administration. The Fox host specifically mentioned Trump’s treatment of CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying, “It’s crazy what we’re watching every single day. It’s absolutely crazy.” “He (Trump) keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and short of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question,” Shep said. “Really? We’re fools for asking the questions? No sir, we are not fools for asking the questions. And we demand to know the answer to this question.” He added, “And you call us fake news and you put us down like children for asking these questions for the American people,” he continued. “The people deserve this answer, at the very least.”
Of course the fundamental of the access to and use of the elements included in the First Amendment give Smith every right to speak his mind on anything. But it seems to this journalist that Shepard Smith — a FOX News anchor and not a commentary show host — has an obligation to report the news without editorial commentary. I expected that when Smith began to sound on air so much like his counterparts at CNN and MSNBC, the FOX News bosses would have stepped in and at least watched with him the video of that newscast and talked him off the “Anti Trump” ledge. But apparently it did not happen. (Broadcast management doing air checks with on-air talent is commonplace)
Late in the campaign, Smith once again took his personal angst for Trump to the air with this: “CNN’s exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property,” the Fox anchor insisted, according to Breitbart. “Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondents follow journalistic standards and that neither they nor any other journalists should be subjected to belittling or de-legitimizing by the President-elect of the United States.”
Smith ignored the fact that CNN had spent the 24 hours before the press conference reporting on a fake news story that Trump had made secret financial deals with Russia and that also contained salacious stories about encounters with prostitutes. Though the story had been ignored by other news organizations since July since it was clearly not real, CNN chose to report it as fact earlier the week of the Smith outburst.
Remember when via Twitter President Trump told the world that Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign? Judge Napolitano on FOX in an interview released a “wiretap update.” Smith addressed that information this way:
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith dismissed reporting by his colleague that former President Barack Obama had reached out to the British intelligence to help him spy on Trump Tower. “Fox News cannot confirm Judge Napolitano’s commentary. Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the president of the United States was surveilled at any time in any way, full stop,” Smith said on the air Friday. Napolitano, in an appearance on “Fox and Friends” earlier in that week, cited three unnamed intelligence sources when he claimed Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency spied on President Trump on Obama’s order during the 2016 campaign. British Intelligence stated that information was not true. Smith’s response? “Trump still has no evidence to substantiate those claims. Of course the president could learn firsthand whether the building in which he lives was wiretapped,” Smith said. “All he’d have to do is ask the intelligence services. They work for him.”
On Smith’s show today — July 6, 2017 — in his report of the press conference prior to the President’s address to a large crowd of people in Warsaw had this to say about President Trump: (I’m paraphrasing but substantively) “President Trump today once again refused to confirm the Russian hacking in the 2016 election. Even though 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies confirmed the hacking, this President continues in his denial. Make NO mistake: the Russians are the ones who hacked the election — no other country as Mr. Trump stated in the press conference.” I was shocked to hear Shep say this! After all, the fact that there were NOT 17 Intelligence Agencies involved in that report — only 3! Further, it was also confirmed that when asked for such a report, approximately 100 Intelligence specialists from multiple agencies are involved in the research and production of such a report before giving it to the Department of National Intelligence who is responsible for forwarding. As I reported in an earlier post, in this case, only 13 hand picked people were tapped to prepare the report! Smith chose to NOT use or share this in his report today and continued to use the CNN Russia mantra in his on air report.
Do you agree that FOX News is in a bit of a pickle here? Almost all conservatives feel Shepard needs to go. But if FOX News bosses make a move, there would be certain litigation. Think about it: his coming out as gay a little over a year ago would throw open wide the courthouse doors for a wrongful dismissal action against the network if they terminated his employment. And the LGBTQ community would certainly initiate every type of public action against FOX News imaginable.
This is just one more example of how MSM has gotten totally out of hand. The dilemma: how to get the media culprits in line without crossing the line into media censoring which would blow up the First Amendment.
Oh, yes I DID include FOX News — at least Shepard Smith — in my definition today of MSM: “Mainstream Media.” And my feeling that is necessary really gives me heartburn. Who’s gonna flip next: Rush Limbaugh?