The host of “The News with Shepard Smith” will be moving on later this month, CNBC announced Thursday in an email to its workers.
The network tried to put the best spin on it possible. But it sounds like there’s some serious housecleaning ahead, and Smith and his team are just the first to go.
“After spending time with many of you and closely reviewing the various aspects of our business, I believe we must prioritize and focus on our core strengths of business news and personal finance,” CNBC president KC Sullivan wrote, according to CNBC.
“As a result of this strategic alignment to our core business, we will need to shift some of our priorities and resources and make some difficult decisions.”
Buzzwords like “shifting priorities” and “strategic alignment” tend to go hand in hand with a business going through tough times and cutting out poorly performing parts to save the rest.
Smith was a longtime anchor at Fox when he abruptly left the network in October 2019, announcing on the air one Friday that the day’s show would be his last.
The reasons were not exactly made public, but they were understood. Smith was clashing with Fox personalities like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, as Variety reported at the time.
Smith himself went public in a CNN interview in January 2021 to claim basically that Fox hosts are liars.
“I don’t know how some people sleep at night,” Smith said. “I know that there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies and who have pushed them forward over and over again who are smart enough and educated enough to know better.”
Well, if Smith wanted to talk about people propagating lies, CNN was the place to do it. CNN is the network that has devoted its coverage since 2015 to propagating lies about the campaign of Donald Trump, then the presidency of Donald Trump and the supporters of Donald Trump.
When he moved to CNBC in 2020, making his debut on the network in September of that year, it was supposed to be a major deal.
But as The Washington Post reported in December 2020, it wasn’t working out that way.
The Post headline said it all: “Shepard Smith was a big catch for CNBC. But the viewers haven’t followed him from Fox.”
“The News with Shepard Smith” never “broke out in the ratings,” Deadline reported Thursday.
The Hollywood Reporter acknowledged that Smith had improved CNBC’s ratings for the 7 p.m. hour, but the show “never approached the numbers of the big three cable news channels: Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.”
To say Smith’s show “never approached” Fox numbers is putting it mildly.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Smith had an average of 222,000 viewers in 2022.
By contrast, on Friday, “Jesse Watters Primetime,” Fox’s 7 p.m. offering going up against Smith’s show, drew 3.29 million viewers, according to Mediaite.
It’s likely that Smith’s ratings success at Fox was due more to the network drawing viewers to Smith than Smith drawing viewers to the network.
As much as he liked to play the straight newsman, Smith’s bias was evident to anyone who watched him.
His antipathy toward Trump earned him plaudits from liberal “news” outlets. On Jan. 10, 2018, HuffPost published an article publicizing a Smith clash with Trump over the Russian “collusion” investigation.
HuffPost summarized the article, “The Fox News host has a news flash for the president.”
Well, as it turns out, reality had a news flash for Smith, HuffPost and the rest of the establishment media when the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller turned up absolutely nothing. And revelations in the past two years have only proved how baseless and politically motivated the collusion canard was.
And now, “The News with Shepard Smith” is that Shepard Smith is leaving another news program.
CNBC is cleaning house and trying to focus on a “strategic alignment to our core business.” Rest assured, if Smith’s ratings were cutting it, he would be part of that “strategic alignment.” He’s not.