Fox anchor Shepard Smith on Monday melted down when a French guest attempted to explain the ongoing attacks, violence and vandalism against French churches. Talking about the fire engulfing Notre Dame, where the cause is unknown, guest Philippe Karsenty began, “For the past years, we've had churches desecrated each and every week all over France.”
Just seconds after his guest was introduced, Smith immediately jumped in and reprimanded, “Sir, sir, sir, we're not going to speculate of the cause of something that we don't know! If you have observations or you know something, we would love to hear it.” After Karsenty attempted to respond, Smith shut down the whole interview: “No, sir. We’re not doing that here. Not now. Not on my watch! Philippe Karsenty, it’s very good of you to be here.”
Twenty minutes later, Smith came back to concede the point about violence against French Christians, allowing, “There have been a number of attacks on Catholic churches in the Paris area. But those two things [the Notre Dame fire and past incidents], we are not connecting at this moment.”
Newsweek reported on March 21, 2019:
Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.
Last Sunday, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday, Le Parisien reported, although no one was injured. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson.
The website Churchpop.com noted,
Since early February, vandals desecrated more than a dozen Catholic Churches throughout France. They’ve looted, burned, destroyed statues, threw consecrated hosts all over the floors, and marked a cross on the wall with human feces.
The Washington Post on April 2 reported: "Among attacks on churches in February, a cross of human excrement was found in the southern city of Nimes, a statue of Mary was smashed in a Paris suburb and a statue of Jesus decapitated...”
Of course, that doesn’t mean, in any way, that’s what is happening in Paris. And people shouldn’t recklessly speculate. But neither should Smith decide a guest is unlistenable simply because he tries to inform an American audience about what's going on in France.
It’s not as though Smith himself hasn't speculated. In 2017, he became unhinged while discussing the Russia investigation. In 2015, he yelled at a fellow Fox host during a discussion of riots in Baltimore.
A transcript of the exchange and Smith’s follow-up can be found below. Click “expand” to read more.
Daily Briefing With Dana Perino
2:27 PM ET
SHEPARD SMITH: Philippe Karsenty is on the line with us, a French elected official who is in Paris now.
PHILIPPE KARSENTY (French elected official): Hi.
SMITH: Felipe, what have you seen and what do you know?
KARSENTY: Well, I was close to the scene when it happened. I left because we want to let people work around it. Everybody's really under shock now in France. I would tell you something. Even if nobody died, it's like a 9/11, a French 9/11. It's a big shock. This church was there for more than 850 years. Even the Nazis didn’t You need to know that for the past years, we've had churches desecrated each and every week all over France. So, of course, you will hear the story of the politically — the political correctness which will tell you it's probably an accident.
SMITH: Sir, sir, sir, we're not going to speculate of the cause of something that we don't know. If you have observations or you know something, we would love to hear it.
KARSENTY: I'm just telling you something, what we need to be —
SMITH: No, sir. We’re not doing that here. Not now. Not on my watch. Philippe Karsenty, it’s very good of you to be here.
2:47 PM ET
SMITH: We've been monitoring very closely fire and police investigators out of Paris. No official of any kind has given us any information about a cause or the origin of the fire. The official report at this moment is they believe, and that's a quote, “We believe the fire began in an area under construction in the rear of the cathedral.” That is the extent of the official reporting on the cause of this. That said, there have been a number of attacks on Catholic churches in the Paris area. But those two things, we are not connecting at this moment. We have no reporting of any kind to suggest that there was an attack here. None. If that changes, we will change our reporting. But there is no official information. There are no witnesses. There was no one with a description that we know of to say how this fire began. And as a result, we're not going to talk about things about which we have no knowledge that are of such substance and import. When we have something, we'll let you know.