The parade of sappy Tweets and farewells from FOX News personalities after the surprise resignation of Shepard Smith was simply too much for many others at FOX to stomach.
Smith, who resigned on-air last week after decades on FOX, has since been canonized by his pals in the mainstream media as a modern-day Walter Cronkite. Even Sean Hannity wrote Twitter Beatitudes praising ole’ Shep.
But FOX insiders say that the outpouring of love toward Shep is simply a byproduct of disingenuous public figures living in a phony vacuum. To many others he worked with: Shep Smith was a jerk. He was a jerk to work for. He was a jerk to work with. And he was a jerk away from the newsroom and cameras as well.
“You are in one of two categories with Shep,” said a long-time FOX insider. “He either likes you or he hates you and if he hates you, watch the f*ck out because you’re in for one hell of a roller coaster ride.”
Perhaps the folks offering praise toward Shep are in the better category, the one where Shep can be a great confidant, pal, and colleague. He can be those things and is to many people, insiders said. To be fair. But if you crossed Smith — or he thought you crossed him — you were in trouble.
“He had a tremendous amount of power at FOX and he ruined careers,” one FOX insider said. “It’s a strange thing; he could be such a normal guy and then just snap. If he could have learned to control that I think he could have been something special in this business.”
But Shep could not control it. In fact, many times it controlled him.
This is a story about the other guys at FOX, the ones with the guts to stand up and say something. Unlike the FOX News entertainers who are pulling down multiple million-dollar contracts who looked the other way at FOX’s #MeToo problems, while railing on-air about Hollywood’s and D.C.’s elite weathering the same accusations.
Shep’s power was anchored to Roger Ailes, the FOX News founder and long-time headmaster who has since passed away. But Ailes was very tight with Smith and therefore, Smith could do no wrong.
“It got to the point where you didn’t even bother complaining about Shep,” a FOX veteran said. “He could get away with just about anything.”
It was Shep’s politics that had recently become a major concern at FOX.
“I would say before Trump became a front runner we knew Shep leaned Democrat but the more steam Trump got the crazier Shep got,” a FOX insider said.
A FOX insider recounts:
“We were working during the (2016) election and a political ad came on TV for Trump and he exploded: ‘This is you’re fucking guy. You support this piece of shit? You’re a piece of shit too. Jesus f*cking Christ this guy needs to be stopped. What the f*ck is wrong with you people?’
“Like a light switch, normal guy to total bully in seconds. And the funny thing is is that I am not even a hard-core Conservative. I just liked some of the things Trump was saying at the time.”
Perhaps Shep forgot he was employed by a supposed Conservative news network.
Unfortunately, after Trump was elected Shep became more rabid.
Recently, FOX’s Tucker Carlson did begin calling out Shep on-air for his mega-liberal slant on the news and his manic criticisms of Trump. To Carlson’s credit he was somewhat vicious but this is the news business and politically, the playing field has never been this partisan.
“Shep lost it behind the scenes, complaining to top executives and I think even (Rupert) Murdoch,” one FOX insider said. “He might have called for Tucker’s head, who knows but what didn’t happen was no one up top backed Shep up on this and he was stunned.”
Shep felt betrayed.
“He was shocked because he always got his way for the most part in these battles,” one FOX veteran said.
If you are looking to send anyone flowers or buy someone a beer for the demise of Shep Smith at FOX, it might be Tucker Carlson.
You might be asking, if Shep was such a workplace bully, why don’t these folks at FOX who have or had a problem with him use their names instead of speaking anonymously?
Many at FOX cite a stiff non-disclosure agreement that keeps all of FOX’s little secrets neatly tucked away from its viewers and readers. Speak up and lose your job, face legal action. Others, however, literally fear Shep Smith.
“Shep would sue, I think many realize this,” a long-time FOX personality said. “Also it looks bad to be attacking a co-worker or piling on.”
It is safe to say that very mentality helped foster a culture of sexual harassment at FOX: Lawsuits and hefty out-of-court settlements from female personalities at FOX targeting Ailes. And don’t forget FOX’s Bill O’Reilly, who was unseated from the throne of cable news for the same problems.
What do you get for keeping your mouth shut while bosses or colleagues run wild? I think we will all get a glimpse in the upcoming movie ‘Bombshell’ which tackles the harassment allegations against the late Fox News founder Ailes.
“Shep was Roger’s guy,” one insider confessed. “If people here had the ability to speak freely you could make more movies. This place (FOX News) has changed so much and for the worse.
“There are stories about Shep that FOX does not want out. Let me just say that. Shep has his own #MeToo issues. I would see Shep slamming guys like (Bill) O’Reilly and Harvey Weinsten and take a step back and say to myself, is this guy for real? He has his own #MeToo issues. He’s clueless.”
The #MeToo movement, where sexual harassment and sexual assault became officially taboo for the Hollywood and entertainment crowd. It was already taboo for decades for the rest of corporate America, but it wasn’t until moguls like Weinstein started getting picked off by the mainstream media that the beautiful people in Hollywood realized it was open season on sexual predators. And while the New York Times trumpeted its role in this newly minted war, it failed to mention the Times could have broken the Weinstein story a decade earlier but instead covered it up.
Back to Shep, who in 2017 publicly addressed rumors about his sexuality. Shep revealed he was homosexual and he was comfortable revealing such. Not a big deal. Shep also tamped down rumors that FOX executives were trying to keep that a secret. He said that was simply untrue.
But to some at FOX, this was not news.
Shep had often put male co-workers at FOX is “awkward social and professional situations,” one insider said.
“Complaints were made and nothing happened so the complaints stopped.”
More specifically, nothing professionally happened to Smith. That is not the case for others.
“It was tough to watch some guys struggle with this,” one FOX insider said. “If you got on Shep’s shit list because you rejected him or he did not like your politics that could be the end of your career at FOX.”
Shep would blacklist reporters and producers her did not like. Some were frustrated and eventually “forced out” of FOX.
“Another thing Shep would do is limit your time on air if he did keep you on his show at all but he did something else that always pissed me off,” one FOX reporter revealed. “He would take all of the information you gathered at a news scene and then report on it before he went to you live and he never gave you credit for working all goddamn day to get the information. By the time I was on the air I had nothing to say because Shep stole all my news. He did this all the time.”
Shep came off looking a news savant to the television audience and the FOX reporters on the scene looked like dopey props.
“One thing few people realize is that Shep never allowed any coverage on Benghazi on his show and I am pretty sure after it happened and people were criticizing Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama he would not allow it to be discussed on his show,” one FOX insider said. “And if you talked about it off camera, he would flip out. He had a real problem with criticisms of Obama and Hillary Clinton. But if you look there was minimal coverage of Benghazi on Shep’s show. But he was allowed to get away with this shit.”
We did look. Shep had conducted a virtual news blackout of all things Benghazi for years.
We have enough political hacks on television, protecting their patron saints of the Democratic party at all costs. In that regard, Shep will not be missed.
But what is the difference anyway when your colleagues smile for the cameras and sit by quietly — cash their checks — and say nothing about workplace abuses? How are they any better than the abuser?
Perhaps they should work at the FBI. — Thomas Paine