Calls For Fox "news" Host Shepard Smith To Be Fired Are Growing, As Are His Ratings

The NY Times has a piece on how Sheppard Smith is feeling the heat over at Fox news for his taking a stance and drawing a line in the sand on.... well, reality.

From the NY Times:

At various points on his Fox News program, the anchor Shepard Smith irritated Rush Limbaugh, teased Glenn Beck and grilled Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (a k a Joe the Plumber) over his attacks on President Obama. But it was not until he forcefully confronted the topic of hateful e-mail — some from Fox’s own viewers — that he drew fire over his approach.
Shep's lines in the sand:

On June 10, Mr. Smith was in the middle of three hours of coverage of the killing at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, in which officials identified an elderly anti-Semite as the killer. He then mentioned a prior warning by the Department of Homeland Security about right-wing extremist groups and connected that to the angry e-mail messages he had been receiving.

“When a crazy man has walked into a Holocaust museum and shot the security guard, maybe that’s an appropriate time to warn people: you’ve got a crazy person in your life, keep an eye on him,” he said in an interview in his Manhattan office last week.


“It is the reporting of this news organization that Barack Obama is a citizen and he is not a Muslim,” Mr. Smith said, touching on a subject — Mr. Obama’s birth status — that has animated conspiratorial discussion in conservative circles, from relatively obscure far-right Web sites like Atlas Shrugs all the way up to the loudest mainstream conservative voice, Mr. Limbaugh.

Without specifically addressing Mr. Limbaugh (whom he said he enjoys), Mr. Smith said: “An unreasonable comment to me is beginning with a statement that is contrary to fact and moving on from that premise: ‘Barack Obama is not a citizen; he is a Muslim looking to take down the nation.’ When you begin with that premise, you are out of bounds.”

He said he was trying to counter “an ideological base” that argues: “The president is illegitimate. The country is off the rails. It’s been hijacked.”


But Mr. Smith has had a little fun in the past with Mr. Beck’s occasionally florid rhetoric, once misidentifying what Mr. Beck called his “Doom Room” as the “Fear Chamber.”


Of colleagues like Mr. Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, Mr. Smith said, “There’s a lot of money in opinion, and those guys are fascinating, terrific entertainers. This is a news organization. There can’t be a Fox News without news.”

The end results? Rage:

Mr. Smith said he fully anticipated one result of those comments: the nasty e-mail increased.

“Thousands of them,” Mr. Smith said. “And I know they don’t mean the things they say. I know they don’t hate me and want death on my family.”

What they mostly say, he explained, is: “You don’t belong there.” Mr. Smith paused a moment before adding: “I do belong here.”


So why do some Fox viewers believe he does not belong? Maybe because Mr. Smith has established a record that seems antithetical to the image Fox has earned as a purveyor of conservative orthodoxy. He is the “voice of the opposition on some issues,” according to Bill Shine, Fox’s senior vice president for programming.


These positions have hardly endeared him to the conservative base. Mr. Limbaugh criticized Mr. Smith after the e-mail episode; so did Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, who called him a “pompous elitist” and said on the site that he should be fired.

The Irony:

“Here” is the formidable Fox News Channel, the top-rated cable news network, in no small part because of Mr. Smith. While Mr. Smith does not draw the same attention as other evening anchors on the channel, his 7 p.m. show, “The Fox Report,” is having its best year, up 36 percent to almost two million viewers a night. He has beaten his cable news channel competition for 92 straight months. His coverage of the museum killing beat CNN and MSNBC combined.

read the full piece....

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