Dear Commons Community,
Fox News anchor Shep Smith received Radio Television Digital News Foundation (RTDNF) Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award at a ceremony in Washington last week. On receiving the award, he told the crowd of journalists that he was committed to the primary mission of journalism, which he said was being accurate, honest, thorough and fair, to never knowingly misinform, and to correct and apologize when the inevitable mistake happens.
Presenting the award was Shepard Smith Reporting executive producer Jonathan Glenn. Glenn said he had to be talked into working for Smith, who he said he found tough to work for, “but only with those who didn’t care.” He said that if you cared about being right, and being good at your job,” everything was great, because Smith cared, and was “frustratingly good” at his job.
Glenn said working with Smith was both exasperating and rewarding. The reward is that Smith cares about “the truth, and about facts. Shep cares tremendously about this business and he takes seriously what we all do,” he said. “When news is breaking or tragedy is unfolding, there is no one I trust more to take us through it,” including explaining what “we don’t yet know.”
Smith spent his time thanking all the people–colleagues, friends, family–who had helped get him to this point and this award, including Fox News President Jay Wallace, who was a tape runner on the overnight shift, and a desk assistant, then Smith’s line producer, senior producer and executive producer. He said they were the ones who made every day rewarding.
Smith said he shared the award with his team, who worked “so hard to get it absolutely right, because as you may know, people kind of pay a lot of attention to what happens over here in our little corner,” to which he appeared to be referring to the news, rather than commentary, corner of Fox News.
He said “being accurate, and honest and thorough and fair is our primary mission.”
Smith called that an ideal we all try to live up to. He also said that it was the duty not only of journalists but of anyone with “the honor of a platform of influence,” that, “when the inevitable mistake happens, we must immediately correct it and sincerely apologize…. We must never manipulate or invent. We must never knowingly deceive, because to do so is a disservice to our audience, and potentially injurious to our society, and I’m convinced that upon those who intentionally misinform, history will poorly reflect.”
Smith said the times ahead will test everyone, but his team will try to remain on task and ignore the Twitter trolls who relentless pursue him and to get the facts to the people, “all the people in every place.”
He said the First Amendment gives journalists the right to protect to do what’s right, “no matter what.”
Commentators, including CNN’s Brian Stelter, suggested Smith was throwing subtle shade at some of his Fox News opinion-based colleagues with his comments. Smith has a history of doing so and has been among the few at Fox News who have fact-checked President Donald Trump’s false statements.