Fox News chief anchor Shepard Smith quits on-air

Fox News chief anchor Shepard Smith has quit the network, openly stunning some of his colleagues.

On Friday's (local time) episode of Shepard Smith Reporting, Smith announced his resignation, which comes after tension with both US President Donald Trump and his coworkers.

"Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter," Smith said.

"It's been an honour and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favour.

"Even in our current polarised nation, it is my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive."

Smith was often critical of Trump on his show, in comparison to the support from most of the network's commentators.

In one case he referred to some of Trump's responses as "absolutely crazy". In another urged viewers to read special counsel Robert Mueller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election - suggesting that it didn't exonerate Trump.

However, his coverage of Trump created tension between the anchor and several of his colleagues in Fox's opinion division.

Earlier this month, Smith was involved in a verbal brawl with Tucker Carlson, one of Fox's most popular hosts.

Smith denounced a guest on Carlson's program for making "repugnant" comments about Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News legal analyst. Carlson fired back, arguing: "Unlike maybe some dayside hosts, I'm not very partisan."

And Smith also clashed with pro-Trump hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham in 2018. Hannity called Smith "clueless" and Ingraham declared him "inconsiderate".

Trump, too, was unhappy with some of Smith's reporting and frequently made his opinions known.

In August the president referred to Smith as "low ratings Shep Smith" and  "hopeless and clueless".

"Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest-rated show on @FoxNews," he tweeted.

According to the Washington Post, the on-air disagreements with Carlson were the last straw, although Fox refused to comment on the reasons for Smith's resignation.

News of his departure reportedly left some staff in tears.

"It feels like death in the news division," a senior Fox employee told CNN, adding some staffers were crying.

But Trump had a different reaction. Asked for his reaction to Smith's resignation, he extended mock sympathy. 

"Is he leaving?" he said. "Oh, that's a shame... Is he leaving because of terrible ratings? If he's leaving, I assume he's leaving for bad ratings… Well, I wish him well."

Smith's departure comes a day after Trump's Attorney-General William Barr met with Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch. 


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