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‘Going to CNN? Feud with Tucker?’ Speculation in full swing after Fox’s Shepard Smith says leaving network after over 20 years

‘Going to CNN? Feud with Tucker?’ Speculation in full swing after Fox’s Shepard Smith says leaving network after over 20 years
Fox’s chief anchor Shepard Smith has announced his departure from the news network after over two decades at the job, prompting a storm of speculation and intrigue online, and even conspiracy theories about why he stepped down.

Hired in 1996, Smith has been with Fox since its inception, but on Friday afternoon he said his 23 years at the network would soon come to an end.

“Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave FOX News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged,” Smith said in his final sign-off, without explaining his reasons for leaving.

It wasn’t long before the internet speculation mill kicked into overdrive, with critics and fans alike offering a host of theories about what made the veteran anchor call it quits.

Some theorized that Smith’s ongoing feud with fellow Fox host Tucker Carlson – often over coverage of President Donald Trump and his administration – may have been the breaking point. In September, the two hosts clashed after Carlson hosted pro-Trump attorney Joe DiGenova, who slammed a recent segment of Smith’s program critical of the president. Carlson ultimately deemed Smith a “partisan.”

“I’m wondering if that spat with Tucker was the last straw.. rumor is Shep was told to stand down.. maybe he didn’t like that!” one commenter said.

While Smith stated he would not be reporting for other news agencies in the “near future,” that didn’t stop scores of netizens from wondering aloud where he might land next. Many decided CNN was the most likely destination, though MSNBC came in a close second.

Some were more favorable to the idea, however.

“Very sad to see you leave Shep,” one fan tweeted. “You have been a voice of reason on Fox, which I hate [to]  watch apart from you, who I watch because I like your heart - it is large and good. I hope you go to CNN!”

For the more conspiracy-minded, Attorney General William Barr’s recent meeting with Fox head honcho Rupert Murdoch was damning evidence something more sinister was at work, suggesting Smith’s frequently critical coverage of President Trump sealed his fate at Fox.

President Donald Trump also stepped into the fray, musing to reporters that rather than resigning, Smith was fired due to “bad ratings.”

In another minor mystery, NBC’s Jo Ling Kent stated in a tweet that Smith had been escorted out of Fox headquarters by security, but soon deleted the post after a spokesperson at the network denied the assertion.

Going forward, Fox said a rotating series of news anchors would fill Smith’s long-occupied time slot.

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