Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Thomas Roberts, Rachel Maddow and Robin Roberts are just a few of the major news anchors who have revealed their sexuality over the last couple years. Bu why not Fox News anchor Shepard Smith? Gawker is certainly raising the question. On Wednesday, the gossip site suggested that Fox News had an issue about Smith coming out and basically forced him back in the closet. Fox News, however, denies that speculation.
Smith, who reportedly has a longtime boyfriend, is one of Fox’s most talented news anchors, but his sexuality may have been a problem. According to Gawker, there have been multiple sources who have reported that Smith did approach Fox News president Roger Ailes about coming out back in the summer of 2013. Smith was eager to finally come out, but Ailes was more worried about how the network’s conservative audience would take the news.
According to a Fox insider, “This came up during contract negotiations. Shep wanted to and was ready to came out, and Roger just said no.” As a result of the conversation, Smith was scheduled for removal from the network’s prime-time lineup. It was a move the insider says was being played up “as a big promotion, but everyone knew that Shep was getting demoted. And the coming out thing was a significant part of that.”
Shepard Smith’s sexuality is obviously his own business as well as his desire to share that publicly, if true, but if he was indeed demoted because of his sexual orientation, workplace discrimination would be at play. Fox News has denied Gawker’s report as a “complete fabrication.” Ailes wrote in a 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.”
Bill Shine, executive vice president of programming, followed up Ailes’ statement by calling the insinuation that Smith was demoted because of his sexuality an insult and something that is just not representative of Ailes nor himself. He proclaims they never asked Shepard Smith about his personal life.
Shine writes: “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.”