On Thursday, for the first time since exiting Fox News, reporter Shepard Smith gave public comments at the International Press Freedom Awards — and used the occasion to blast autocratic leaders who use their power to suppress journalism.
"Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon. We don’t have to look far for evidence of that,” said Smith. "Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature, doesn’t it? Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news. There’s a phrase for that."
Smith also announced that he would be donating $500,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the press freedom organization that hosts the awards.
"We know that journalists are sometimes wary of being perceived as activists for some cause," Smith said. "But press freedom is not the preserve of one political group or one political party. It’s a value embedded in our very foundational documents. Journalists need to join hands to defend it."
For years, Smith has acted as a moderate voice at Fox News, often fact-checking or debunking false claims made by the more sharply partisan opinion commentators on the network. President Donald Trump was constantly annoyed by him, blasting him as the "lowest-rated anchor" at the network.