Shepard Smith, host of Shep Smith Reporting on the Fox News Channel, is notably more critical of the Trump Administration than his colleagues at the network–and sometimes this difference in opinion boils over into open hostility.
Smith’s and the opinion hosts’ respective goals are fundamentally incompatible, which is why they so often clash. Smith clearly thinks that the opinion hosts undermine the credibility of his own news reporting.
Carlson, Hannity, and Ingraham clearly see Smith as an invader from the so-called liberal media. Smith and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace are consistently the best that the network’s on-air news division has to offer, and it is Fox’s choice, and Fox’s fault, that everyone else falls short of their standards. [Slate.com]
Smith and Carlson this week got into it over their own interpretations of the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Smith and judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano argued that Trump committed a crime by asking Zelensky to investigate former vice president and Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden. Smith’s argument reflected the same line of thinking as the left-wing mainstream media.
Carlson, however, had his own judicial analyst on his show–former prosecutor Joseph diGenova–and the two argued that Trump is being unfairly persecuted.
The feud started on Tuesday when Smith hosted Napolitano on his show, Shepard Smith Reporting. Smith asked the judicial analyst, “The president admits that on a phone call with the president of Ukraine he requested that the president of Ukraine investigate his 2020 political rival Joe Biden. Is that a crime?”
Napolitano responded, “It is a crime for the president to solicit aid for his campaign from a foreign government”
Smith asked, “So that to which the president has admitted is in and of itself a crime?””
“Yes, this is the same crime for which the Trump Organization was investigated by Bob Mueller,” Napolitano said. “It’s the same crime. An agreement or a solicitation for assistance for an American campaign, regulated by the Federal Election Commission, where you are seeking the assistance from a foreign government, that’s the crime.”
Later that night, Carlson asked diGenova to respond to Napolitano’s commentary from earlier that day. DiGenova said, “I think Judge Napolitano is a fool and I think what he said today is foolish. No, it is not a crime. Let me underscore emphatically that nothing that the president said on that call or what we think he said on that call constitutes a crime and even if he had said you’re not going to get the money, it would not be a crime.”
Joseph diGenova calls Fox's Judge Napolitano a "fool" for saying what the President has admitted to doing regarding Biden is a crime. pic.twitter.com/SVlrDZZu4w— Contemptor (@TheContemptor) September 25, 2019
The next day, Smith had Napolitano back on his show where he and the judicial analyst reiterated their arguments. “A partisan guest who supports President Trump was asked about Judge Napolitano’s legal assessment,” Smith said. “And when he was asked, he said, unchallenged, Judge Napolitano is a fool. Attacking our colleague who is here to offer legal assessments, on our air, in our work home, is repugnant.”
Napolitano said, “Well, I think the president’s supporters will dig their heels in, and I think the president’s detractors will dig their heels in.”
That evening, Carlson had diGenova back on his show and said, “Well, apparently, our daytime host, who hosted Judge Napolitano, was watching last night and was outraged by what you said and, quite ironically, called you partisan.”
Carlson played a clip of Smith and Napolitano calling him “repugnant.”
“‘Repugnant,’” Carlson said, turning to diGenova. “Not clear if that was you or me, but someone’s repugnant. Now, unlike maybe some day-side hosts, I’m not very partisan–and it was a sincere question. Is it a crime or not?”
DiGenova said, “Absolutely not. Now, let me sort of educate Judge Napolitano. The president of the United States is the executive branch under Article II. He is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. He can ask anyone—a citizen, a foreign leader—a question. He can make a suggestion about an investigation because he runs them.”
The following day, Smith did not respond to Carlson or his guest. Vanity Fair reported that Fox News management told him that if he continued to attack Carlson, he would be removed from the air.