Shepard Smith, the Fox News anchor with the glass closet door and the 26-year-old boyfriend, hasn’t exactly been riding high at the network, having been bumped from prime time last year. Now Gawker explains just why Smith’s star has fallen at the network. It’s because he wanted to come out.
According to Gawker, Smith told Fox News president Roger Ailes that “it’s time” for him to come out. Ailes would have none of it and ordered Smith not to reveal he’s gay (as if the world didn’t already know) because the Fox viewership, with an average age of Methuselah, would never accept it. Smith, who has always described Ailes as a second father to him, acquiesced.
Smith’s downfall apparently was precipitated by an executive picnic, to which Smith brought boyfriend Gio Graziano. Not all the Fox News executives were comfortable with the couple. In particular, Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming “flipped out,” one source told Gawker. “He’s a major, major homophobe,” said another.
Shine decided that Smith was a potential problem and engineered the demotion. Ailes assented, fearful of what Smith’s sexuality might mean to the ratings. Smith was moved out of his prime spot in what was played as a promotion but seems to have been anything but. Gawker says that Fox News PR is under orders from Ailes to head off any discussion of Smith’s sexuality. We all know how well that’s worked.
Smith and Fox have issued a statement, calling the Gawker article “100% false and a complete fabrication.” (And who better to know about fabrications than Fox News?) Perhaps more telling is Shine’s reaction. He didn’t dispute the story, other than to say he didn’t attend the fateful picnic.