Fox News anchor Shepard Smith had no intention of opening up the way he did during a speech at Ole Miss late last month.
During an earlier panel discussion at the ‘It Starts With MEek’ conference, meant to promote diversity and inclusivity, Smith realized the speech he had prepared to give an hour later did not match the mood and feel of the event. So he said he tossed it and ended up talking about things he had no plans to discuss.
“It wasn’t until seven, or eight, or nine years ago, I started living my truth,” Smith told the crowd, according to a report in the Clarion-Ledger. “I grew up in Holly Springs. I went to the First Methodist Church. I went to Ole Miss. I was also trying to avoid what having a normal social life is. I didn’t need to go home and find my girlfriend or boyfriend. I just cut it off (and said), ‘Where do you want me? Next plane?’”
Smith dropped out of Ole Miss in 1987 went he got his first TV job in Florida. “So my immediate response was, ‘Well, he’ll never amount to anything,’” joked the dean of Meek School, Will Norton Jr. But his new life in TV news would keep him on the go for 10 years. He was married for 6 of those years. Coming out just wasn’t an option.
“A. You’re going to hell for it. B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way, you’re on television on the craziest conservative network on Earth. That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt,” he said.
“I don’t think about it,” he said, choosing to focus on his work. “It’s not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I’m in love with.”
Smith also took questions from the students, including, “What’s your best advice for getting a job in New York City?” His answer: Get a job somewhere else first. “We operate faster, and we speak different. And if you’re real polite, (they) hate you, because it gets in the way. There’s no time for it.”
Despite dropping out, Smith has long been devoted Ole Miss Rebels fan. “Now, I just want to win on Saturdays. I don’t even care about the bowl. I just need to beat LSU. ‘Go to hell LSU.’ My dad likes that,” said Smith, whose 89-year-old father Shep Sr. was in the front row.