Shepard Smith has come out as a gay man in a new interview.
The popular Fox News anchor, who has been with the network since it first launched 20 years ago, spoke about his sexuality in an interview with Huffington Post.
Smith, 52, confirmed the long-circulating rumor when he was asked if it was former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes who prevented him from coming out of the closet.
‘That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,’ Smith said of Ailes.
The ‘love’ Smith had for his old boss is why it was so difficult for him to deal with the network’s sexual harassment scandal this past summer.
‘I trusted him with my career and with – I trusted him and trusts were betrayed,’ Smith said of Ailes.
‘People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.’
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Sexuality: Shepard Smith (above) has publicly come out as a gay man in a new interview
Revelations: Smith, 52, spoke about his sexuality when asked if a report from 2013 claiming that Roger Ailes (above in 2006 with Smith, speaking via satelite) prevented him from coming out was true
It was Gawker that reported back in 2014 that Smith wanted to publicly come out but was told he could not after speaking with Ailes.
‘This came up during contract negotiations,’ a Fox insider told the website.
‘Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said ‘no.”
That was not the case at all though according to Smith, who also shot down past reports which claimed that Ailes had made homophobic comments and remarks in his presence.
‘He treated me with respect, just respect,’ said Smith of Ailes.
‘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 get it right, try to get it right every day.’
Smith then added: ‘It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.’
Ailes and Smith also released a joint statement after Gawker published their story two years ago, stating: ‘As colleagues and close friends at Fox News for 18 years, our relationship has always been rooted in a mutual respect, deep admiration, loyalty, trust, and full support both professionally and personally.’
That changed for Smith however when Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit this past July accusing Ailes of sexual harassment.
In the wake of that lawsuit, more women came forward with their own claims about Ailes, including another Fox News host, Andrea Tantaros.
Smith said Ailes was a ‘father figure’ to him
‘This was a real shock to the system, and it upended a lot of things that we thought we knew. We were wounded and horrified and very emotional, and we realize that as leaders we need to come in and face up to what we’ve learned,’ said Smith.
‘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.’
Smith also said that the scandal is still ‘not over.’
He reported on Carlson’s lawsuit after it was filed, one of the few people at the network to address the scandal, while also giving Ailes’ response at the time.
In addition to his duties as host of Shepard Smith Reporting, which airs weekdays at 3pm, Smith is also the managing editor of the network’s breaking news division.
Smith said that after the scandal broke over the summer he sat down with Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch to talk about the future of the network, and liked what he heard from the Australian billionaire.
‘He said, “I’m a newsman. I want to be the best news organization in America,”’ Smith said of his conversation with Murdoch.
‘He wants to hire a lot more journalists, he wants to build us a massive new newsroom, he wants to make more commitments to places like this [studio], to hire reporters to work on beats, just enlarge our news-gathering.’
Smith, who left University of Mississippi two credits shy of a degree to take his first job, also spoke about how he got his start on Fox News.
He said that Ailes saw him reporting on the OJ Simpson trial for Fox affiliates and then called him asking if he would fly to New York City to talk more about the possible new position.
Soon after, Smith moved to New York City and began his career at the network.
In recent months he has come under fire for some of his reporting on Donald Trump, who is close with his fellow Fox News host Sean Hannity.
In August he said on air that Trump ‘trades in racism’ after one of his guests, Wall Street Journal reporter James Grimaldi, said that the Republican nominee ‘trades in hyperbole.’
And just last week he spoke about Trump’s comment during the second debate that Hillary Clinton would be in jail if he were president as a result of her email scandal.
‘It might have been bordering on unconstitutional, maybe even something almost definitionally fascist,’ said Smith of the statement.
Comments like those are the main reason it would seem the Trump has not appeared on Smith’s show, despite the anchor reaching out to his campaign for an interview.
‘I would like to have some time with him,’ said Smith.
‘For me, at least, it would be interesting to go through the things he’s said and the things he’s done and try to get an explanation.’