Fox News anchor Shep Smith has unveiled his sexuality in an explosive Huffington Post interview, in which he denied allegations that former chief Roger Ailes is homophobic.
The 52-year-old Smith, whose real first name is Shepard but prefers to go by Shep, both personally and professionally, has been rumored to be gay since at least 2013, when accusations first surfaced that Smith wanted to reveal it but was prevented by a homophobic Roger Ailes. Smith denied those allegations — and in the process confirmed that he is gay.
“That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father… He treated me with respect, just respect. I wasn’t new in the business when I came here ― I’d been doing reporting for 12 years ― but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) October 10, 2016
Ailes, you may recall, was forced to step down in July following allegations of sexual harassment against anchor Gretchen Carlson. As People reported at the time, Carlson alleged that Ailes sabotaged her career after she complained against pervasive sexual harassment at the cable news channel. Ailes denied the allegations, but after news broke of Carlson’s complaints against Ailes, several other women stepped forward with claims of sexual harassment against Ailes, and he was later forced to resign. Carlson sued Fox News, and the two sides settled for $20 million, USA Today reported in September.
— Rich Merolla (@richmerolla) October 14, 2016
Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, who interviewed Smith, says that Smith’s emotions following the Ailes departure are still raw.
“It’s such a wonderful place, and it’s been home forever. He was very fatherly and mentorish. And now I know that there were other things going on here.”
As to his own sexuality, it’s been something that Smith has traditionally been reticent about discussing publicly. Back in 2014, Gawker’s JK Trotter began “harassing” Smith, as the Daily Banter called it at the time, trying to essentially force Smith to publicly confirm that he’s gay. Smith declined to take the bait, and things came to a head when Trotter leveled allegations that Ailes had told Smith not to reveal his sexuality.
At the time, Smith vehemently denied the claims. In fact, the Daily Banter managed to screen-grab a copy of an e-mail that Smith sent to his staff regarding the allegations.
“Things you might read today are horses**t.”
Despite Fox News and Smith’s attempts to deflect attention away from the issue, Smith’s sexuality has been something of an open secret in the news industry, and in the LGBTQ community, for some time. Out Magazine, for example, regularly includes Shep Smith on its Power 50 list.
With the Roger Ailes ugliness behind him, Shep Smith is now focusing on advancing his career at Fox News. His style of news delivery, described as improvisational, has led to some moments that have gone viral. For example, as Hurricane Matthew approached Florida, Smith — who grew up in the South and covered Hurricane Katrina — looked into the camera and, in all seriousness, told Floridians to evacuate or they would die.
“And your kids die too.”
Does Shep Smith’s confirmation that he is gay bode poorly for his future at Fox News? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Richard Drew/AP Images]