Mr. 'Straight News'? Time Pretends Shepard Smith Isn't Opinionated on Fox News

March 27th, 2018 9:02 PM

When Shepard Smith's arrogant dismissal of his Fox News colleagues broke in Time magazine, we (and others) focused on his declaration that they "don't really have rules on the opinion side." But taking another look in the print edition, what stands out is how Time TV critic Daniel D'Addario routinely -- like many media liberals -- portrays Smith as on the "fact side," even as they enjoy his criticisms of President Trump. 

Smith says he’s unbothered by the divergence between his reporting and Fox’s opinion slate....

As Fox has tacked further to the right in its opinion programming, Smith’s role has at times seemed like a challenge. Being the old-fashioned anchorman and reporter at a network known for new-fashioned provocation and opinion may be the hardest job at Fox News...

Even when he editorializes, Time keeps him on the "straight news" side: 

Smith said on-air that the president, who’d called for raising the age limit for buying firearms, had caved under political pressure: “The president told the kids at Parkland, ‘I’ll go strong on this, I’ll work on this age thing,’” Smith said. “And then he met with the NRA.” Smith’s treatment of these stories—and how that treatment differs from his opinion-host colleagues’—hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The headline in the magazine is "Shepard Smith has the hardest job on Fox News." There's almost zero quotes pushing back on Smith's arrogance. Time briefly mentions Sean Hannity called Smith "so anti-Trump." 

Smith’s generally straight-news broadcast doesn’t frequently upset those viewers’ senses of self. But breaking news has a way of shaking up established agendas. The day after my first visit was the day of the school shooting in Parkland, Fl. News of the incident broke as Smith was preparing to go to air. Once again, the pace of events scrambled a plan that was already pretty seat-of-pants. Smith took to the air for three hours, during which he listed the shootings and asked, “Why can’t they put the best and the brightest together to research it and figure it out and help us stop it? [We’re] failing our children.”

....And I wonder, if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don’t know.”

....Smith can’t brook shifting his reporting. “I think we have to make the wall between news and opinion as high and as thick and as impenetrable as possible. And I try to do that. And if I were doing this, there would be a lot more fact-based reporting, but it’s available for people who want it. I don’t know how badly they want it.”

D'Addario write "Smith isn’t the only anchor to profess a desire to avoid becoming the story." Sure, while subjecting himself to interviews and photography sessions, he doesn't want to become the story. "But his commitment to facts over feeling makes him an unusual fit for an era defined by news personalities. His opinion colleagues, geared to thrive in contentious times, fit the tenor of the moment more naturally. That he’s, to some portion of the Fox audience, become despised for telling them what they don’t want to hear is a frustrating part of the job."

We would rewrite it like this: Smith is "despised for sounding like he's trying out for CNN or MSNBC."  It's the liberal media who describe a liberal tilt as what people need to hear.