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.”


  1. Brian W. says

    Any other network, MSNBC, CNN, etc. would have matched what FOX news is paying him and he could have been happily and openly out. A missed opportunity on his part.

  2. Frank says

    Funny how they don’t deny he’s gay. I think it would be a chance to teach the Fox Folks about acceptance.

  3. DC Insider says

    A match made in hell. They deserve each other. One day, when Smith gets fired, he’ll sue for discrimination based on sexual orientation, even as he helps the most virulently anti-gay network in TV history.

  4. Cam says

    I wonder how much chas Ailes had to come up with to get Smith to go along with that PR statement that was just released.

  5. says

    Try as I might (I didn’t, really), I just can’t bring myself to feel an iota of pity for Shepard Smith or his closeted, self-loathing ilk. Enjoy the bed of misery that you’ve made for yourself.

  6. says

    Fox News exists for one reason: To make their core audience of angry white guys even ANGRIER. And for that audience an openly Gay news anchor would be nothing short of betrayal.

  7. northalabama says

    he knew in advance who he was working for – was he surprised by his boss’s reaction or the demotion? has he researched the bigotry advocated by some of the batty guests and contributors to the network? if he didn’t know better, he does now.

    shame on the executives, they missed an opportunity to enhance their image among piers and prove detractors wrong. wonder what lie they concocted to hide this stunt.

  8. anon says

    Ailes is reportedly so paranoid that he wanted a reinforced door to his office and bullet proof glass in his windows, but Murdoch to his credit, said no.

  9. John says

    This is probably why they canceled Andrew Napolitano’s Show on Fox too. The Fox News crowd is not exactly what you would call gay friendly.

  10. grayzip says

    It is kind of gonzo/ballsy/insane for Fox to release a statement meant to shoot down Gawker’s story that makes no mention of whether or not Shepard is in fact gay

  11. miami says

    Wow, its like what it does not deny that is so amazing about that Fox statement!!! Its like they are hedging their bets, DADT and we didn’t demote him because he is Gay!!! Talk about a totally b–s–t lawyer PR statement.

  12. GregV says

    @Grayzip and @Frank: Not that I trust Faux Noise’s version of ANY story, but it is ANY employer’s business to clarify for anybody an employee’s sexual orientation. They said what I would have said if I were a boss and a story falsely said I was trying to forbid someone from coming out.

    @Simon: Saying the story is false does not mean Shepard Smith isn’t gay any more than it means he isn’t a Fox News employee. The story they are claiming is false is that they forbid him from coming out.