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News anchor Shepard Smith apologizes for calling Robin Williams ‘such a coward’

Monday night’s news programs were filled with the sad news of the suicide death of Robin Williams, but Fox News host Shepard Smith made the mistake of “wondering aloud what could have made this man want to end it all.” After calling Williams “such a coward” for allegedly taking his own life, Smith apologized for his reckless remarks about depression and suicide in an interview on Tuesday with Mediaite.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Presenter Robin Williams speaks onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Presenter Robin Williams speaks onstage during the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on September 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

On Monday night’s Fox News broadcast, Smith read reading a quote from Williams about his daughter Zelda, then said, “One of the children he so loved, one of the children grieving tonight, because their father killed himself in a fit of depression.”

He then went on to add, "It's hard to imagine, isn't it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, and they're in their mid-20s and they're inspiring you and exciting you and they fill you up with a kind of joy you can never have known. Yet something inside you is so horrible, or you're such a coward, or whatever the reason that you decide have you to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”

In a phone interview with Mediaite, Smith apologized profusely for his insensitive remarks. After explaining that he was just "wondering aloud” about what drove Williams to such a tragic end, Smith added, "But no matter how you process it: Look at what this family is going through. I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word ‘coward,’ I would be horrified. I would just to apologize to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a coward. To the core of my being, I regret it.”

Robin Williams’ family has asked for privacy during this sad time, but his daughter Zelda Rae Williams took to Twitter to pay tribute to her famous father. On Tuesday, Zelda Williams tweeted a passage from French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, taken from his classic story "The Little Prince.” But the 25-year-old actress added a special message for her father: “I love you. I miss you. I’ll try to keep looking up. Z.”

Sadly, Williams’ last social media post was an Instagram note to his daughter for her 25th birthday. On July 31, the Oscar-winning actor posted a throwback pic of the two of them with the caption: "Quarter of a century old today but always my baby girl.”

A press conference on Tuesday with the Marin County Sheriff’s department shed new light on the grim final moments of the beloved actor. In a prepared statement, Lt. Kevin Boyd, the Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner of Marin County, said the department has preliminarily ruled Williams’ death a suicide, but they will not make a final determination until all toxicology and autopsy reports are complete.