Fox News anchor Shepard Smith celebrates his 10th anniversary as host of “FOX Report,” now the #3 7pm show in basic cable averaging 1.8M viewers each night this year. Tonight, the program will feature a special montage to commemorate the occasion.
“It’s been a crazy ride,” he tells TVNewser. “10 years later we’re doing an hour of news. We don’t have any pundits we don’t have any analysts. I think it’s probably the one hour of reporters doing their good work.” The “firewall” between news and opinion at FNC is key for Smith who says, “People like to take shots at our programming side. And let them do all they want, but thank goodness opinion is still allowed in the United States. Thank God we’re still doing a newscast that doesn’t include it. I’m proud of it and I wish there were more of it out there.”
Smith spoke to TVNewser about the highlights, the lowlights, where he’s going, and how it all started 10 years ago.
TVNewser: Michael Clemente, Senior VP of News Editorial, has called you “truly a one-of-a-kind journalist.” What sets you and your program apart?
Smith: That’s high praise coming from him. I’m so glad he’s here and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him and learning from his experiences at ABC. All we want to do every day is wake up, get to work, find out what’s happening out there and tell people about it. That’s our only goal every day. We want to make it easy to understand for people to the degree that we can. We want them to be able to know what’s going on in the world so they can make decisions for themselves and form opinions for themselves. And we want to have a little fun from time to time when we can as well. I feel like it ought to be a full meal. Really the team that puts it together are just some of the best journalists I’ve ever worked with. We don’t BS people; we try to call BS when we see it. I think more than anything, we just try to keep it real. I think in this time, people appreciate that and gravitate toward it. You hear people talking about it in every industry. If you can figure out how to keep it real, warts and all, people will be able to relate to it. And it’s so much fun. We have a great time every day and I hope that shows.
TVNewser: With this milestone, where do you see yourself going from here?
Smith: Wow, I don’t know. I see myself going exactly where Roger Ailes tells me to. (laughs) I grew up in a small town where money came and money went and times were tough and times were good and there was not a lot of stability. That’s why I always wanted a steady paycheck and a steady life. And it’s developed into 10 years of an astounding experience. You’re on the front lines as history is being made: running around in the war in Lebanon or over in Iraq or down the street on 9/11 or Columbine or Tim McVeigh‘s funeral. It’s just been one historic moment after another and what an honor it’s been to be able to write the first chapter of history of those events. It’s something I never dreamed and never even thought about being a part of growing up in Mississippi as a kid. I never had aspirations for New York or networks. I never even thought about being an anchor, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to report. Life’s taken a lot of turns and I’m really fortunate.
TVNewser: When you say growing up, you never expected to be [a network TV news anchor], where did you expect to be?
Smith: I didn’t think about this. There was no cable news except for CNN and at the time it just didn’t really interest me. The whole news landscape evolved at a time when I was coming up. And it so happened that as I was out of a job sitting in Los Angeles, Roger Ailes said I’ll give you a chance. 10 years ago last week, he called me into his office and he said, “We’re going move Paula Zahn to the 10 o’clock hour” — she was anchoring “The FOX Report” at the time â€“ “And I’m not going to make you any long-term promises, but I’m going to let you give it a shot. And what I want you to do is just go out there and try to do what you do in the field. Producers will give you a hard time and that sort of thing, but if you have any problems you call me and when I have any problems, I’ll call you. I’m not saying this is going to last forever. Just wait for my call.” And he didn’t call, so we’re still at it.
TVNewser: What’s been your biggest story?
Smith: Oh, Wow, I guess it would have to be 9/11. I don’t think we’ve had anything bigger than that. I hope we treated it with respect and I hope that at some point soon they get something built down there. It’s sad.
TVNewser What’s the strangest thing that’s happened in the studio?
Smith: Oh, there was a fire once in there. The set caught on fire. We had to change studios. All the lights went out once. The PA system overhead started just making noises once. You name it, it’s happened in the middle of our shows. People used to laugh that everything that goes wrong finds its way into “The FOX Report.”
TVNewser: How has your co-worker Glenn Beck transitioned to the network?
Smith: The people that work for him all say the same thing: he’s the nicest guy to everyone in this building that you’ll ever ever meet. And that is the absolute truth. As far as opinions go, everybody’s got one. They don’t belong in my program. But that’s what his is about. He’s doing his thing and thank goodness that people aren’t censored. That they can actually talk. It’s not what I do. It’s not what I’ve ever wanted to do, but again one of the great things about this place is, we understand there’s the programming side Glenn Beck is on and there’s the news side that the journalists are on. Glenn understands that, we understand that.
TVNewser: We received an email from one of our readers saying they spotted TVNewser on your computer. Do you read TVNewser at your desk?
Smith: (Laughing) I don’t know, we go through a lot of Websites on there. I think everybody goes by TVNewser from time to time. I wish you had more posts. It used to have more posts on it, but yeah I read it. Check out the numbers. See what’s going on in the industry. Ha.
TVNewser: Thanks, I appreciate it Shepard.
Smith: Right on man, good luck.