FOX News’ Roger Ailes and Shepard Smith Deny Shep was Demoted for Wanting to Come Out as Gay

FOX News demoted anchor Shepard Smith late last year after he told Roger Ailes he wanted to come out of the closet, Gawker reports:

Shepard_smithIn the summer of 2013, according to multiple sources with knowledge of their exchange, Shepard Smith approached Fox News president Roger Ailes about publicly coming out. The newly attached anchor was eager, at the time, to finally acknowledge his sexuality. “It’s time,” he told Ailes and other colleagues. “It’s time.”

Instead, Ailes informed Smith that the network’s famously conservative audience would not tolerate a gay news anchor. Ailes’ answer was definitive: Smith could not say he’s gay.

“This came up during contract negotiations,” a Fox insider told Gawker. “Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said no.”

Smith, one of Ailes’s first and most loyal disciples, acquiesced to his boss’s demand, and dropped the matter. But the discussion worried enough Fox executives to prompt Smith’s removal, in September 2013, from the channel’s coveted prime-time lineup. According to a Fox insider with direct knowledge of negotiations, Smith’s desire to come out was a large factor in the dramatic move.

Gawker, of course, has been trying to help Smith out of the closet for some time now.

Ailes and Smith released a statement to TV Newser calling the report totally false:

“This story is 100% false and a complete fabrication,” write Ailes and Smith in a joint statement. “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.”