Last Man Standing

Published: November 2, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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“Tomorrow the migrants… are more than two months away — if any of them actually come here, but tomorrow is one week before the midterm election, which is what all of this is about.” – Shepard Smith, FOX News anchor, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018

Shepard Smith, the informed, straightforward newsman at FOX News (Yes, you heard me correctly, FOX News), is not only consistent, but … hold on to your hats, conservatives… credible.

That’s not a word I often use in the same sentence with “FOX,” but the reality is this: Shep Smith, as he’s called, is the last man standing up to the insanity of Sean Hannity and the latter’s nightly effluence of false facts and conspiracy theories that President Trump relies on to form whatever policy he thinks will whip up his/their “base.”

This time, it’s about the caravan of migrants working their way up through Mexico. After countering Trump’s fear rhetoric, Smith gives the facts about the migrants.

(Take a listen. Go ahead, I’ll wait…)

When it comes to fact-based reporting, Smith has become Mr. Reliable in a building that worships conservatism to a fault. The fault is that FOX is so craven about anything that smacks of political compromise that they’re willing to prop up populists to distort and deceive about so many issues I cannot begin to list them all.

As a result, not all is blissful for Smith. He’s had to battle the Hannity hoaxsters who tried to spread the false conspiracy theory that he was being fired last June.

“BREAKING: Shep Smith To Be Canned Because He Can’t Control His Hate For Donald Trump.”

“ ‘GREAT!! GET RID OF HIM ASAP!!!’ one user wrote.”

All debunked by

“In reality,” FactCheck writes (June 12), “Fox News announced in March that Smith had signed a “multiyear deal” to stay with the network. In a statement, Fox News Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch praised the anchor, who has been with the network for more than two decades.

“ ‘Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled,’ Murdoch said in the announcement. ‘is powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms has elevated our entire news gathering process.’ ”

Note the specific choice of words by Murdoch, “has elevated our entire news gathering process.”

Hannity and Tucker Carlson gather zero news. They simply cull arcane sources to find the next “Ted Cruz’s Father Seen with JFK Assassin” stories.

The principal difference between Smith and others at FOX is that Smith believes in facts and truth and does not suffer fools gladly.

Here’s another example: Trump thinks an executive order can rewrite the constitution to remove “birthright citizenship.” During the story, Smith takes a not-so-subtle jab at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s prediction. (Listen to the first half of the tape.)

And when it comes to the recent shootings in Pittsburgh, Smith, again, urges politicians (a.k.a. Trump) to back off the fear and hate rhetoric. (Listen to the first 3 minutes.)

How do Shepard Smith and Sean Hannity exist in the same building?

Last year (July 18, 2017), The Hill reported disagreements between the two.

“ ‘Shep is a friend, I like him,’ Hannity said, ‘but he’s so anti-Trump. I mean, he went off on a rant last week.’

“In response, Smith told Mediaite, ‘Sometimes facts are displeasing. Journalists report them without fear or favor.’ ”

And that’s the critical difference between the far-right pundit Hannity has morphed into over the last decade and a journalist like Shepard Smith. Smith is clearly channeling John Adams who, in his defense of British soldiers falsely accused of the “Boston Massacre,” said: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

In July, Smith stepped up in support of a rival reporter on air, who was asked to leave a presidential press conference after repeatedly asking questions the president didn’t like. Listen to Smith’s clear explanation of the reporter’s job and the importance of access for a free press. He also takes the unusual step of calling out White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications Bill Shine, a friend of Smith’s, involved in the incident.

In an era where the president’s lawyer, a former U.S. attorney, tells an interviewer that “Truth isn’t truth,” Shep Smith is honest, respectful, responsible and independent, whose first allegiance is to facts and evidence.

The choice before American voters on Tuesday is clear: you can choose facts or fairy tales; fear or faith; faith in the American values of democracy, equality, diversity and a free an independent press that accurately reports the news “without fear or favor.”

Keep up the good work, Shep, we’re listening.


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