'Sometimes facts are displeasing‘: Shep Smith hits back at Sean Hannity for whining about his Trump coverage
Shepard Smith and Sean Hannity, composite of screen grabs.

Fox News chief news anchor Shepard Smith has responded to Fox News host Sean Hannity in the latest escalation of the war of words in the battle for the soul of the network.

"Sometimes facts are displeasing," Smith told Mediate. "Journalists report them without fear or favor."

Hannity criticized Smith for being insufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump.

"I’ll say this about the Fox News Channel, there are voices on Fox that drive me nuts," Hannity admitted. "I like Shep, but he's so anti-Trump."

Smith's lecture on journalistic duty may further widen the divide between journalists and conservative pundits at Fox News.

“Smith is a hard news anchor who is supposed to cover the news straight down the middle with no bias. Hannity is a conservative talk show host extremely supportive of Trump. Both have been with Fox News since its inception in 1996,” CNN explained.

"Hannity’s comments about Smith highlight a deepening divide at Fox News between the network’s news operation and its opinion hosts. Hard news anchors like Smith and Chris Wallace have expressed dismay in recent days with the news that has emerged from the Trump White House, particularly after emails revealed Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer under the pretense she would provide ‘very high level and sensitive information’ that would ‘incriminate’ Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, hosts like Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Eric Bolling have sought to downplay such news, instead characterizing it as hysteria from the supposed liberal media.”

In a further sign of the split at Rupert Murdoch's network, Fox News White House correspondent John Roberts left Tuesday’s press briefing in a huff, taking a shot at Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Roberts left the White House press briefing to appear on the Fox News show "Shepard Smith Reporting."

The war of words erupted after Smith criticized the Trump administration for lying.

“If there’s nothing there and that’s what they tell us, they tell us there’s nothing to this and nothing came of it, a nothing burger, it wasn’t memorable. Didn’t tell you about it because it wasn’t anything, so I didn’t even remember it with a Russian interpreter in the room at Trump Tower,” Smith said Friday. “If all of that, why all of these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie?”

However, so far the battle has remained a war of words. PolitiFact reports rumors are untrue that Smith was fired by Fox News are untrue, as are the rumors that Smith responded to firing by punching Sean Hannity in the nose.