Claim to Fame
There aren’t many people in the world who have ever heard of the name David Shepard Smith Jr. That is because most people who have heard of him will only know him by the name, Shepard Smith. This well known name belongs to one of Fox News Channel’s most recognizable anchors. One that is especially known for his liberal use of profanity laced rants. He is also known for being the managing editor of Fox News’ Breaking News Division. Altogether, his work at the cable news channel is rumored to earn him an impressive $10 million per year income, and his net worth is estimated to be somewhere around the $20 million mark.
Humble Beginnings and Fast Rise
Shepard’s career began at a local stations around Florida in markets such as Gainesville and Miami. He subsequently moved to LA to become a correspondent for the nationally syndicated television news program, A Current Affair. After A Current Affair ended production in 1996, Shepard was picked up by the Fox News channel. Since then, his career has spanned across multiple programs at Fox News including hosting the Fox Report and his own program called Shepard Smith Reporting. Over time he has covered major news events including the funeral of Princess Diana, the Florida ballot counting controversy during the 2000 election, and the execution of domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh. In a 2003 poll conducted by TV Guide, he tied for the position of second most trusted TV news anchor with the likes of network giants like Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.
Personal Life and Controversy
In 1987, Smith married Virginia Donald, who was a fellow classmate from his time at the University of Mississippi. However, the marriage did not produce any children and ended in divorce after only six short years in 1993. Quite a heavy shroud of mystery and uncertainty loomed over the reasons behind Smith’s separation from his wife, mostly because any shred of credible information regarding the issue ended up buried beneath the avalanche of gossip and speculation revolving around his sexual orientation.
Many people in the media speculated that the reason for Smith’s divorce was the fact that, despite being married to a woman, he was actually a closet homosexual. A development surfaced in support of this explanation and alleged that Smith was at the time seeing a secret boyfriend or at least that was what the digital gossip block, Gawker claimed and spread.
According to Gawker, Smith had been dating Giovanni Graziano, better known by the nickname Gio, a graduate of Penn State and a former producer at Fox Business. The relationship was kept from the higher-ups at Fox since Smith’s bosses were not exactly known for their gay-friendly attitudes. Fox has a very conservative audience and they would do anything to prevent news of one of their top anchors being gay from getting out to the public.
People in support of gay relationships said that regardless of whether or not the rumors of the relationship were credible, judging from the photos floated about the internet, Gio was cutie and, if Smith was indeed dating him, then he was definitely a lucky man.
Unfortunately, the much more somber side of the story came to the forefront when there were reports that Fox was repeatedly trying to shove Smith back into the closet, even after he wanted to come out publicly as being gay. And subsequently, in a move that was perhaps related to his desire to live openly as a gay man, Smith was demoted from his prime-time seat to a much less desirable afternoon slot starting in 2013.
Considering that the cable network is owned by 20th Century Fox, a company which has long held to a publicly declared policy of embracing employees with diverse backgrounds and sexual orientations, such actions were definitely keeping in line with their corporate image. Naturally, Fox News denied any accusations regarding the matter and claimed them to be “one hundred percent fabricated’”
However, the fact remained that there was no definite public declaration about his sexual orientation. Since there was no confirmation from Smith, all of the speculation was nothing more than mere internet rumors and gossip mongering.
There was a smaller group of media members who believed that Smith was actually dating a lady by the name of Patricia Frees, and that they were secretly engaged to be married. The fact that no one seemed to know much more beyond that about Smith’s mystery lady was simply attributed to being part of Smith’s desire to protect her anonymity and private life.
All the speculation surrounding Shepard Smith’s sexuality came to an end in early 2017, when he revealed without any doubt that he was indeed a homosexual. Smith claimed that, growing up in Mississippi, he had always felt different from his peers. Yet he never felt the need to “come out” before because to him, he never actually felt like he was “in” the closet. There was such a strong push towards conformity growing up in his small conservative town that fitting in seemed like a natural part of life for all the boys he grew up with. It wasn’t until the last decade that he felt like living his ‘truth’ was a path that he needed to walk.
Shepard was aware of the huge amount of speculation that surrounded him and his sexuality over the years. People wondered why he waited so long to finally make it clear to everyone. He stated that there were a few reasons for his secrecy. Primarily, even though he has long been aware of his own homosexuality, it was never important to him, it wasn’t just who he was. He stated that while his homosexuality was a part of him, he did not allow that part of himself to define him as a person or as a reporter. The second reason was the he felt it would cause problems with his career. To him, it felt like there was no point in discussing his sexuality, especially amid the thickly conservative atmosphere within Fox News. He does however state that his reluctance was due to his own perception of his situation at Fox, and not because he was pressured to do so by anyone there. People were surprised that Fox News kept him on the network after he came out. There was speculation that the network feared the backlash they would receive if they fired someone for coming out as a homosexual.
Last Modified: Apr 8, 2020