Updated below page break | Shepard Smith is losing his 7 p.m. Eastern Fox Report slot, but will gain the post of managing editor of the network's breaking news division, Mediaite is reporting. Presumably this opens that time slot for Sean Hannity, who is losing his 9 p.m. slot to Megyn Kelly.
Smith will still retain his 3 p..m. Eastern Studio B program. The Mississippi native is no stranger to NewsBusters criticism. Last August, for example, we criticized Smith for a thinly-veiled swipe at fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A, which was being supported by fans with an "appreciation day" to show support in light of protests by pro-gay marriage groups.
Smith's bias typically works its way to the fore on social issues, such as when Smith hailed President Obama's self-descried "evolution" on same-sex marriage. The president was now "on the right side of the 21st century" on the issue, Smith exulted at the time. In March, Smith took it upon himself to grill a Catholic priest over the Church's stand again ordaining women for the priesthood.
Update [6:00 p.m. Eastern]: Kirell subsequently interviewed Smith, who explained a bit how the new breaking news unit would break into existing programming (emphasis mine):
For the first time, we’re going to run parallel control rooms. In other words, each program has its existing team that will only need to worry about their programming, while our new team is constantly working behind the scenes on delivering breaking information.
When your show has to be interrupted by breaking news, I’ll do it for them. The wall between programming and breaking news gets higher. Instead of an existing show’s team worrying about news-gathering, my team will cut in and take care of the breaking news — the other show can then plan their analysis.
When you break in with news, now we have people looking for and confirming information than we’ve ever had in the past. In some situations, we’ll be on for a minute or for an hour. But just because I’m not on the air at any given moment, doesn’t mean I’m not about to be. We’ll constantly be combing for information, coming up with the breaking news items.
As a concept, I like it, But that said, breaking news is always an excellent opportunity to see a journalist's true biases come out. In the spur of the moment, unscripted and unmanaged by producers, a reporter's biases can come through in a manner unlike that of pre-packaged programming. Should be fascinating to see.