Pause and Eject: Changes at Fox News
October 11, 2019 3:20 PM   Subscribe

October 9: Trump upset with Fox News reporting and polls; Attorney General Barr Meets with Rupert Murdoch (NYTimes). No one knows what they talk about. October 11: After 23 years, Shephard Smith suddenly steps down from Fox News (Daily Beast).

Neil Cavuto is 'a little stunned and a little heartbroken' (Mediaite). Donald Trump is not surprised (Mediaite).
posted by ZeusHumms (59 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
[Hello, let's start the thread over a bit less violently and with fewer wishes of harm! You can hate Shep Smith without being graphic.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:36 PM on October 11, 2019 [27 favorites]


Video of the announcement. Smith had been at Fox News since it was founded in 1996 and renewed a multiyear contract with the Fox in Spring 2018.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:38 PM on October 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


WTF is the AG of the US doing meeting with a media mogul at said mogul's home?

I mean, given this is Trump and Barr, I'm pretty sure I know what they are doing. But WTF!
posted by Frayed Knot at 3:41 PM on October 11, 2019 [52 favorites]


The plot thickens, here on Earth in 2019, a time and location made up entirely of infinitesimal, instantly-evaporating plots
posted by penduluum at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2019 [16 favorites]


It's always interesting seeing exactly what peoples thresholds for bullshit are. Better late than never?
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:43 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


WTF is the AG of the US doing meeting with a media mogul at said mogul's home?

At least he didn't do it on the tarmac at the airport or else the FBI director would certainly repudiate him.
posted by JackFlash at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2019 [48 favorites]


oh please, oh please, oh please let this house of cards collapse sooner than later.
posted by valkane at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2019 [26 favorites]


I would like to remember him for his Katrina coverage.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:48 PM on October 11, 2019 [10 favorites]


oh please, oh please, oh please let this house of cards collapse sooner than later.

It's not collapsing, it's shedding the last vestiges of real journalism in order to fully spread its propaganda wings.
posted by schroedinger at 3:49 PM on October 11, 2019 [75 favorites]


Career NSC officials leave after getting to their career zenith and then somehow convinces their second in command to give up on their own career zenith and also bail out as fast as was conceivably possible.

Bolton gave up on Bomb Iran which is all that gives him pleasure in life.

Shep Smith bails ASAP after this meeting.

Uncountable numbers of other people have been bailing out or been pushed out on account of the business in Ukraine and with the code-word server.

There's another, larger black hole that scares career Republican's shitless and we can only see the effects of it's gravity.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:55 PM on October 11, 2019 [101 favorites]


Shep's going to move on to MSNBC to collect his paycheck as a resident antifascist-scolding reactionary-whisperer.

He said an agreement he signed with Fox News means that he “won’t be reporting elsewhere at least in the near future.”
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:56 PM on October 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


The people who sit around watching Fox News all day and night couldn't stand Shep Smith. He was very unlike the vast majority of all the other "reporters" and anchors there.

Regarding the idea that he'll just go to another network, he stated that part of his agreement to leave Fox News means he won't be jumping to another news network. He likely had to sign an NDA, too.
posted by wondermouse at 3:57 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


So either he was fired, and Fox is buying out his contract, or he quit and he’s leaving a huge pile of money on the table.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:00 PM on October 11, 2019


How many Fox News peeps does this make that left under less than best-case scenarios? Does it equal the peeps that have left the Trump administration? I mean, I know the Fox peeps haven’t been jailed, and I know the ratio is like 1 Fox to 30 Trumps, but forgive me for enjoying this moment.
posted by valkane at 4:06 PM on October 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


He was fired, there’s a report of Giuliani screaming “asshole!” At the TV at the same time he was doing his piece on the arrest of Rudy’s Ukrainian friends - if he wants an single iota of his reputation laundered he’ll break the NDA and try to help bring Fox News now in the Nixon-fired-me-so-I’m -leaking -to -the-press-mode ....- but he won’t because these people don’t have ethics or morals or a backbone. They have very nice houses. He’ll be back at one of Theil's dinner parties eating ice cold chicken soup by this time next week.

Hope it was worth it. Probably was. Those houses are very nice.
posted by The Whelk at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2019 [40 favorites]


Brian Stelter is trying to write a book about Fox News, so he's in a good position to address Why Shep Smith finally walked out of Fox News for good. He says Smith decided to leave last month. He also made a lot of money.
For months I have been working on a book about Fox News in the Trump age. Staffers have been confiding in me about the challenges of covering the news inside a network that is increasingly defined by sychophantic pro-Trump personalities like Sean Hannity.
...
"Some of the top names among the news side at Fox" have been "leaving voluntarily one by one," a former staffer pointed out, as big chunks of the network have basically been co-opted by Trump.
posted by zachlipton at 4:40 PM on October 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


Hurricane Fox is undergoing an eyewall replacement cycle. It will expand and rage.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:42 PM on October 11, 2019 [11 favorites]


I wonder how strong Shep Smith's NDA is.
posted by ShakeyJake at 5:00 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Is there any doubt that Shep Smith was fired? He was attacking Tucker Carlson on air so they sacked him. They even said they would last month.
posted by bhnyc at 5:08 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also, I wish I could remember who said it, I think it was on an episode of Sh!tpost ...but it was a talk with the guy at Right Wing Watch whole job was just to watch and monitor Fox News for over a decade. He got asked if it was like ...getting worse or had always been this way and they said, yeah it’s much more overt racism and outright lying , before it was more coded country club stuff or misleading facts but now it’s just straight up, masks off daily stormer stuff and outright lying and manipulating photos and graphs and there’s no difference between the channel now and like the paranoid, conspiratorial, directly night nationalist internet stuff they used to court but plausibly deny.

The other interesting things he said was the quality has gone way down too, Bill O’Reilly was an odious protofascist but he could out on a compelling, professional 3 hour show - now it’s like, production values are stripped away, hosts are visibly drunk on camera, the morning shows are rambling and incoherent, even the sound design feels phoned in.*

The only one who can still produce a show at the same level of competence while also bringing on and polishing up the Nazi shit is Tucker, and the Channers HATE Fox News for being so incompetent and bafoonish but they LOVE Tucker and want him to run for office and there’s an proven Chan-to-Tucker talking point pipeline in place. Which is why he’s so scary, the rest of Fox is talking to the declining right wingers and protofascists, Tucker is talking to the up coming ones and he’s getting better at that kind of European style ethnonatiojalism/healthcare for white people only stuff I lay awake at night having nightmares about.


*one person talked to thinks this is cause more older people, esp in care homes, gravitate to Fox News cause it has a really big ticker they can read and not s lot of confusing graphics on the screen and they end up plugged into White Power Hour all day
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on October 11, 2019 [62 favorites]


He said an agreement he signed with Fox News means that he “won’t be reporting elsewhere at least in the near future.”

This is not how amicable splits work.
posted by srboisvert at 5:14 PM on October 11, 2019 [9 favorites]


I’m 100 percent [Murdoch’s] bitch,” Carlson said. “Whatever Mr. Murdoch says, I do. … I would be honored if he would cane me the way I cane my workers, my servants.”
posted by kirkaracha at 5:25 PM on October 11, 2019 [12 favorites]


I’m 100 percent [Murdoch’s] bitch,” Carlson said. “Whatever Mr. Murdoch says, I do. … I would be honored if he would cane me the way I cane my workers, my servants.”

And as I click the link I'm thinking "man, that's refreshing, I haven't seen a link to a The Onion article in foreve - wait whatthefuck"
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:30 PM on October 11, 2019 [38 favorites]


I guess Barr is now catching pies for Rupert Murdoch.
posted by benzenedream at 5:35 PM on October 11, 2019


Tucker Carlson will be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee.

Come back here in 5 years and you'll see I'm right.
posted by xthlc at 5:50 PM on October 11, 2019 [21 favorites]


WTF is the AG of the US doing meeting with a media mogul at said mogul's home?

New to this whole fascism thing, huh?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:58 PM on October 11, 2019 [36 favorites]


With Smith, we may have just witnessed the biggest journalistic defenestration out a moving Overton window in living memory. I wonder whether Chris Wallace and JD Roberts, both former big name ABC/NBC/CBS news guys, will follow suit.
posted by zaixfeep at 6:11 PM on October 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


Tucker Carlson: Better to serve Murdoch than to rule on his own The Blaze-clone, I guess.
posted by zaixfeep at 6:15 PM on October 11, 2019


He said an agreement he signed with Fox News means that he “won’t be reporting elsewhere at least in the near future.”

This is not how amicable splits work.


I’ve seen these in amicable splits before—it’s fairly common in industries with celebrity talent because they don’t want Shep walking into CNN tomorrow. He may have agreed to it (along with an NDA) to walk away with some of the contract money he was promised, which is how a sudden departure can be amicable. I’d keep an eye on how long a term the non-compete has or if we find out he left all the money on the table.

Brian Stelter is trying to write a book about Fox News

I only knew him through Twitter, where he seems personable, but I recently read his book on the morning show wars (Top of the Morning), written before Lauer was exposed as a rapist, and it is utter tripe, sexist, and poorly written to boot. It’s basically “the tale of how handsome ladies’ man Matt Lauer outmaneuvered that uptight annoying Anne Curry.” With special appearances from Charlie Rose (also described as a ladies man).
posted by sallybrown at 6:51 PM on October 11, 2019 [27 favorites]


In a just world anyone who ever worked for FOX would be shunned by all civilized folk forever. In our world he'll probably be getting a cushy job as the resident hippie puncher at [insert random major news outfit here] when they decide to bolster their "centrist" credentials.
posted by sotonohito at 6:57 PM on October 11, 2019 [7 favorites]


This is not how amicable splits work.

Conan O’Brien got straight up ejected from The Tonight Show, yet he still had to take like a year off.
posted by sideshow at 8:25 PM on October 11, 2019 [2 favorites]


Tucker Carlson will be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee.

Stewart/ Colbert ticket 2024 confirmed. Whether they like it or not.
posted by fshgrl at 8:29 PM on October 11, 2019 [11 favorites]


Shep signed a non-compete agreement. For that, the network pays him several million dollars to do absolutely nothing for a while. Nice work if you can get it. I would consider it pretty damn amicable.
posted by JackFlash at 8:46 PM on October 11, 2019 [8 favorites]


I renew my standing offer to to absolutely nothing for a paltry $100,000 per year.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:01 PM on October 11, 2019 [47 favorites]


Dear lord, I just realized that Shep looks to me to be a near dead ringer for French Stewart! Makes sense since both were transmitting for Big Giant Heads. His next gig? The Fuuusion Chaaaamberlain show starring Fusion Chamberlain, naturally!
posted by zaixfeep at 9:40 PM on October 11, 2019 [6 favorites]


The people who sit around watching Fox News all day and night couldn't stand Shep Smith. He was very unlike the vast majority of all the other "reporters" and anchors there.

Anecdotally this was true for me growing up. It was on all the time at my grandparents' and although I recognized his face I didn't know his name compared to radio folks Hannity, Coulter, Limbaugh, Savage, (I moved away before Carlson and Youtube). Shep was the guy doing the realish news in the background at 3pm, before you really sat down to watch, giving it the air of respectability.
posted by JauntyFedora at 9:45 PM on October 11, 2019 [3 favorites]






With Smith, we may have just witnessed the biggest journalistic defenestration out a moving Overton window in living memory.

Or maybe not. I remember Dan Rather.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:24 AM on October 12, 2019 [19 favorites]


Shep was the guy doing the realish news in the background at 3pm, before you really sat down to watch, giving it the air of respectability.

Yep. I think that's why they wanted him in the first place and why they kept him on for so long: to be the guy who gives the impression of real journalism on that channel. So in some ways he was Fox News' punching bag for their primary viewer base, but at the same time it allowed FN to be able to say "See, we are fair and balanced, look how hard Shep Smith is coming down on Bush/Trump/etc." I also believe Shep was given the latitude to cover these stories that show Republicans in a negative light, because ultimately he was still only on Fox News so how seriously could he be taken by the outside world?

The Washington Post article about this contains what I think is one of the more salient points about this and what I worry is happening to journalism in general, even outside of Fox News:
A former Fox News staffer who has recently been in touch with Smith said that the spat with Carlson was the last straw and that Smith had grown frustrated in recent months by the repeated attacks on the news division by other opinion hosts. Fox News declined to comment on the reasons for Smith’s resignation.
Those opinion hosts, and opinion articles in online news, are what bring in the most ratings and often get the most clicks. It's worth being concerned about this happening at non-Fox News outlets as well.
posted by wondermouse at 7:12 AM on October 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


Just to clarify, it is unlikely that Smith signed a new non-compete agreement. His multi-year contract undoubtedly included it. And typically a NCA does not provide for continuing payments. It is part of the consideration for the work under the contract.
posted by megatherium at 7:14 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's hard to continue to take money from a company once you've left it. There are tax implications about severance, which can stop applying if you keep getting paid. You receive a chunk of money made up of considerations for various parts of the severance agreement, and an NCA will translate to some of that.

The details don't matter. He won't be serving you at an Olive Garden any time soon.
posted by Devonian at 7:33 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Wonder if he'll be on Dancing with the Stars or seen hanging out with Ellen first?
posted by great_radio at 10:02 AM on October 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


With Smith, we may have just witnessed the biggest journalistic defenestration out a moving Overton window in living memory.

Or maybe not. I remember Dan Rather.


Anne Curry. Finally made a cohost of the Today Show and then suddenly dumped at the insistence of Matt Lauer and his bros in NBC corporate.
posted by sallybrown at 10:07 AM on October 12, 2019 [18 favorites]


Trump's been very unhappy with Fox News Polling lately, most recently the one this week which found that more than 50% of registered voters support the impeachment inquiry. In Minneapolis he complained that Fox News Polling have always been against him, from since he started campaigning, and he doesn't know what the deal is and, also Fox News in general isn't what it used to be. Barr goes to meet Murdoch personally. Smith is fired. This all happened within four days.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:31 PM on October 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


I don't get the connection between Fox's polling operation and Shep though, like the polls will still be bad for him, or they'll take a very noticeable turn to crap if Murdoch starts putting his thumb on that scale for Trump, but Shep has nothing to do with it either way. I don't see Rupert Murdoch getting personally involved to ditch Shepard Smith because Trump whined.

I do wonder if the rumors of Fox looking towards a post-Trump future and rumors of Paul Ryan being involved via his position on the board have anything to do with this, Ryan being a board member makes him hard to get rid of but if Shep was an ally of Ryan's or likely to be an ally down the line he could have been the victim of internal politics. That kind of change could be existential for Murdoch, with Ryan building a power base in the network from his position on the board and Murdoch's kids waiting in the wings for their moment. And Barr and Murdoch would kinda have the same goal of keeping Ryan hobbled for their own reasons so it's not surprising they'd meet if it were about that.

If it is all about Fox's future and the whole Paul Ryan rumor mill, I'm sure Murdoch's been meeting with more GOP allies than Barr, and I'd be interested to know who he isn't confiding in any more, and who is talking to Ryan a lot more lately.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:26 PM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


It's not that he has an influence on Fox's polling, the polls are just another reason Trump has been mad at Fox. Smith occasionally criticized Trump, Trump hated it, Trump was getting madder and madder at Fox, Fox did something to appease him.
posted by schroedinger at 4:15 PM on October 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Ryan being a board member makes him hard to get rid of

Uh, no. Paul Ryan is a political factotum installed by the Murdock family and can be removed with a snap of their fingers. Fox Corporation stock is divided into two classes of shares, only one of which has voting power. The Murdock family directly owns 40% of those voting shares and along with a couple of close associates, majority control.

Think of Paul Ryan as just a pretty face who might be handy if Fox ever runs into government scrutiny regarding their operations.
posted by JackFlash at 4:33 PM on October 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


The only impression I have of Shep Smith is a story someone told me where they saw him at bar drunk and yelling at the jukebox to "Turn off that Hippy shit!" while Hendrix was playing. Not my kinda guy .
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:52 PM on October 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


Dear lord, I just realized that Shep looks to me to be a near dead ringer for French Stewart!

Ha ha, no. He's 100% a Ryan Seacrest Type.
posted by rhizome at 11:05 PM on October 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Think of Paul Ryan as just a pretty face who might be handy if Fox ever runs into government scrutiny regarding their operations.

I think you have the causal chain backwards. The seat on the board is the reward for services rendered. The only forward causality is that he is advertising what the payoff is for cooperation to other people still in office.
posted by srboisvert at 9:36 AM on October 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


I wonder if they would just stop airing polls where he is a subject at his behest?
posted by Selena777 at 11:17 AM on October 13, 2019




Wow. Either Neil Cavuto is fed up or he's looking for a quick severance package. Check out his message direct to the president about lies and the media.

[link goes to random twitter account; I haven't found the video elsewhere and am not about to search the Fox News site for it]
posted by komara at 1:35 PM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Cavuto was always closer to the Shep/Wallace end of the spectrum. Comments on that post indicate that was from August 29th, 2019.
posted by mmascolino at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


Dang! I usually try to be a good internet researcher but rushed myself today. Thanks for the correction.

I now return you to actual Shep Smith news.
posted by komara at 2:28 PM on October 14, 2019


It seems apparent to me that Fox News is starting a scam of some kind.
posted by rhizome at 3:56 PM on October 14, 2019


Starting?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:33 PM on October 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


I was hoping to avoid enumerating the layers of onion.

But as I think about it, "woke Glenn Beck" wasn't a success, and that's the line I'm thinking is possibly being trod here.
posted by rhizome at 7:05 PM on October 14, 2019


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