They don’t give awards for integrity…

The only time I watch Fox News is when Shepard Smith is the anchor for the mid-day news, the factual news, the honest news, not the distortions put forth by those so-called opinion guys on the network.

It really isn’t surprising that the vast majority of Fox revenues are brought in by those other guys that pander to the president, his base by spouting his “Deep State” fakery or conspiracy theory du jour.

The fact is, Shepard Smith stood up to his colleagues at Fox whenever they strayed, frequently, away from facts, and clung, more frequently, to the Trump doctrine of misinformation.

Now, who will honestly report the facts at Fox?

As Media Matters writes (Oct. 11), “…Smith’s willingness to push back against the misinformation rampant elsewhere on the network had made him extremely valuable to Fox. It provided the network’s executives with a fig leaf they could wave whenever critics argued that Fox was nothing more than a propaganda apparatus on behalf of the president and his allies.

“That fig leaf is gone.”

Journalist Edward R. Murrow famously said, “We cannot make good news from bad practice.”

However, as I wrote in my 2011 book, Shameless, “When it comes to the current state of some cable news programs, the line between news and opinion has not blurred, it’s vanished, and what we’re left with is not just bad practice, it’s become reckless malpractice.

“While the press has reported many of their more outrageous statements, management at the media outlets who employ these individuals allow them to continue their abuse with impunity all for the sake of ‘ratings’ (aka, money).

“However, in a time when many have lost jobs, homes, and hope, this brand of shameless incivility and misinformation no longer sits on the sidelines.  It has become the basis for much of the fear and unreason that has taken hold in the country. In short, the atmosphere has become poisoned with a level of malicious discourse that is not only intolerable but also astonishingly unethical.”

More astonishing is the fact that I wrote those words before Donald Trump was elected president.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with advocating an opinion. But when opinion is reported as fact; when opinion relies on hearsay, political spin, crazy “Deep State” theories, someone has got to grab a hold of those who pander in that craziness and say, “Hey, come on, that’s not accurate; that’s not truthful and by the way, as a news organization, we have a responsibility to abide by the truth.”

Shepard Smith did that.

And Fox “News,” particularly his audience, will be all the poorer for his absence.

They don’t give awards for integrity, but in this age of rampant partisanship, and demagogic misinformation, Shepard Smith deserves to be at the top of the list of recipients.

In his final on-air words, Smith offers both hope and caution.

“Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day. That the truth will always matter. That journalism and journalists will thrive,”

The only question left: Who will speak truth to power and the pundits at Fox, now?

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