Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes and anchor Shepard Smith are calling a Gawker story published this morning “100% false and a complete fabrication.” The story titled “How Fox News Shoved Shepard Smith Back Into The Closet,” is based on anonymous sources who claim Smith wanted to reveal his sexuality, but was stopped by Fox News executives, including Bill Shine, who heads up FNC’s opinion programming.
The Gawker story claims Shine “flipped out,” when Smith brought his partner to a July 4, 2013 party at Ailes’ upstate estate, and later called a meeting to discuss what to do. Fox News tells us Shine wasn’t at that party (he was in Charleston, South Carolina on vacation with his family) and emphatically denies any such meeting occurred.
Gawker claims the events of the July 4th party led to Smith being “demoted.” But, Ailes and Smith had been discussing a new contract with Smith as early as last spring, and singed in June, leading to the addition of the Fox News Deck and changes to primetime.
“This story is 100% false and a complete fabrication,” write Ailes and Smith in a joint statement. “As colleagues and close friends at Fox News for 18 years, our relationship has always been rooted in a mutual respect, deep admiration, loyalty, trust, and full support both professionally and personally.”
Smith works for the news side of FOX, which is run by Michael Clemente and Jay Wallace and not Bill Shine, who oversees programs like “The O’Reilly Factor” and “Hannity.” Shine released his own statement of support for Smith, which reads in part: “We have never asked Shep to discuss or not discuss his private life, and the notion of us having an issue with anyone’s sexuality is not only insulting, but pure fiction.” Shine’s full statement after the jump:
“Over the past 18 years, we’ve had the privilege of working with Shepard Smith throughout his incredible rise from a field reporter to chief news anchor and his recent promotion to managing editor,” Shine writes. “Throughout his entire tenure here, Roger Ailes and I have fully supported him in both a professional and personal capacity. We have never asked Shep to discuss or not discuss his private life, and the notion of us having an issue with anyone’s sexuality is not only insulting, but pure fiction. We renewed his contract in June 2013 based on this full support as well as his exemplary journalism. He’s the gold standard of this profession and we’re extremely proud to call him the face of our news division.”