Liberal media outlets were thrilled at Shepard Smith's first public remarks since abruptly leaving Fox News last month. Smith hosted a dinner of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and proclaimed he was donating a half million dollars to the group. Michael Grynbaum at The New York Times reported he called "for a steadfast defense of independent journalism, while offering a few subtle barbs at President Trump’s treatment of the press."
Subtle? “Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon. We don’t have to look far for evidence of that,” Smith said. “Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature, doesn’t it? Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news. There’s a phrase for that.”
Don't be shocked these remarks were the lead story of Brian Stelter's newsletter overnight.
“We know that journalists are sometimes wary of being perceived as activists for some cause,” he said. “But press freedom is not the preserve of one political group or one political party. It’s a value embedded in our very foundational documents. Journalists need to join hands to defend it.”
Smith did not mention Fox News in his remarks, and Fox News reporters were present (Fox helps fund the group). It's odd anyone would think it's odd to perceive journalists as "activists for some cause." CPJ surely despises Trump. We noted last year that CPJ slashed Trump in a blog post headlined "In response to Trump's fake news awards, CPJ announces Press Oppressors awards."
They wrote: “Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump's announcement via Twitter about his planned ‘fake news’ awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media. From an unparalleled fear of their critics and the truth, to a relentless commitment to censorship, these five leaders and the runner-ups in their categories have gone above and beyond to silence critical voices and weaken democracy.”
This underlines why Smith would be so warmly honored, and donate some major cash.
CPJ mocked Trump with an award for "Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom," despite no actual curtailment of American press freedom. They gave him a second-place finish in the "Most Thin-Skinned" category, writing:
In response to media coverage critical of him, Trump has threatened to "open-up" U.S. libel laws, sue news outlets, and subject their broadcast licenses to review. He regularly attacks outlets and individual journalists on Twitter and in speeches, calling them "sad," "failing," or "garbage." Since declaring his presidential candidacy in 2015, Trump has posted about 1,000 tweets critical of the press. CPJ research shows that when public figures and political leaders lob insults at the media, they encourage self-censorship and expose journalists to unnecessary risk.
In 2016, CNN's Christiane Amanpour was less subtle than Shep Smith in receiving a CPJ award, implying Trump would be executing journalists. “Let's resolve not to be turkeys voting for Thanksgiving!”
The New York Times article notes the chairs of this Shep-hosted CPJ dinner were "Laurene Powell Jobs, whose Emerson Collective controls the magazine The Atlantic [which endorsed Hillary for President] and has made major investments in media companies, and one of her top executives, Peter Lattman, a former journalist at The New York Times."
Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs, is best remembered for her sickening Hillary Clinton effluvium in Time magazine in 2015: "She is one of America’s greatest modern creations."