After tweaking anchor Shepard Smith’s newsroom duties last year, Fox News has denied allegations that the changes were a result of Smith asking to come out as gay.
A story published by Gawker Wednesday alleges that Smith was taken off of the primetime-aired “Fox Report” after attending Fox News topper Roger Ailes’ annual Fourth of July picnic with his reported boyfriend. Gawker’s story reports that around the same time, Smith was renegotiating his contract with the network and that he had asked Ailes for the go-ahead to publicly acknowledge his sexuality.
In a joint statement, Ailes and Smith called the story “100% false and a complete fabrication.”
“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,” it read.
The Gawker story alleged that Smith’s superior Bill Shine, the channel’s Executive Vice President of Programming, “flipped out” when the anchor began introducing his boyfriend to co-workers at the party, but a spokesperson for Fox News said that Shine wasn’t even at the Fourth of July party and that “no such meeting ever took place in regard to Shep, nor would it ever.”
Smith, in fact, is overseen by Jay Wallace, senior vice president of news. Shine runs opinion and programming at the network.
The spokesperson also pointed out that Smith’s new contract was signed June 7 and first reported by Business Insider July 2, making the alleged negotiations “impossible.”
Smith was named managing editor of the cabler’s news division last year and his “Studio B” program, airing at 3 p.m., was renamed “Shepard Smith Reporting.”
He has been at the cable news network since 1996.