Longtime Fox News chief daytime anchor Shepard Smith, who joined the network when it launched in 1996, sent shockwaves through the media world as he announced at the end of his Friday broadcast that he would be leaving the cable news network after a successful 23-year career.
But shortly after the anchor’s exit from the network, President Donald Trump fired a shot at Smith, accusing him of leaving the network due to poor ratings, then added that he wishes Smith well, according to The Hill.
“I don’t know. Is he leaving? That’s a shame,” Trump told reporters before departing on a trip to Louisiana. “Is he leaving because of bad ratings? If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving because he had bad ratings.”
“He had the worst ratings at Fox,” the president added. “I wish Shepard Smith well.”
Trump’s ratings jab is not entirely accurate, as data from Nielsen Media Research shows that Smith regularly posted higher ratings than anchors from competing networks in his daytime slot.
While Trump and Smith never directly engaged with each other in person, both have fired shots each other’s way in the past via the news and social media. In July, Smith harshly criticized the president for what he called “misleading and xenophobic eruption” over his verbal attacks on members of “the Squad,” also labeling the president’s remarks as a pattern of “distraction and division.”
Smith was also known for fact-checking a long list of Trump’s remarks on his daytime show, often holding nothing back as he corrected the president on a variety of issues.
On Thursday, Smith was also a target of the president’s anger after a Fox News poll showed that a majority of Americans favored the president’s impeachment. Trump slammed the otherwise politically-friendly network in a tweet in which he said Fox News’ pollster “sucks.”
Trump mentioned several personalities at the network in his tweet, dropping Smith’s name in a group that the president claimed “doesn’t deliver for US anymore.”
Smith was also recently part of a public spat against Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson, who had a guest in the early stages of the Ukraine phone call controversy who called the network’s legal analyst Andrew Napolitano a “fool.” Smith took issue with both Carlson and his guest and vigorously defended Napolitano the next day during his show.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Smith’s departure from the network came two days after U.S. Attorney General William Barr reportedly had a secret meeting with Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch is the chair of News Corp, which is Fox News’ corporate parent. There’s currently no indication that Smith’s exit was in any way connected to the meeting.