Shepard Smith has been with Fox News since it launched 20 years ago, but it’s only now that he is acknowledging he is a gay man at the country’s most conservative television channel.
In a new interview with The Huffington Post, Smith denied ousted chairman Roger Ailes prevented him from coming out before.
’That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,’ said the 52-year-old newscaster.
But, he adds, the allegations of sexual harassment have been devastating.
“I trusted him with my career and with… I trusted him and trusts were betrayed,’ Smith said of Ailes. “This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”
Back in 2014, Gawker reported Shepard wanted to come out publicly but Ailes stopped him. “This came up during contract negotiations,” a Fox News insider reportedly said. “Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said ’no.'”
Smith denied the claim, as well as reports that Ailes made homophobic remarks in his presence.
“He treated me with respect, just respect,’ said Smith in the HuffPo interview. “I wasn’t new in the business when I came here—I’d been doing reporting for 12 years. But I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world. And he never asked anything of me but that we try to get it right every day.”
He added that Fox News “was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”
Smith, never afraid to veer from the network’s orthodoxy, was one of the few Fox News anchors who reported on Ailes’ improprieties, leading the coverage when the rest of the network was neglecting the story.
In his interview on Monday, Smith suggested a pathway to a new era of Fox News: “We have to make sure there aren’t young victims wandering around here who need us. We have to get appropriate counselors in here. We have to make sure legally everybody’s protected and have to make a commitment to be the most transparent, open and welcoming organization of our kind in the world, and I’m determined to be a part of the team that makes it happen.”
Several years ago, Gawker had heavily pursued rumors that Smith was romantically involved with a male 26-year-old Fox staffer and that the right-wing news network might be silencing the relationship to conceal the homosexuality of one of its famous personalities.