Take That, CNN!
Anchor Shepard Smith on what Fox News is doing right, hacking scandals and Glenn Beck.
On. Jan 31, Fox News Channel marked a decade as the most-watched cable news outlet. Bill O'Reilly might be its face of opinion broadcasting, but the host of The Fox Report and Studio B has become its face for hard news. Shepard Smith, who has worked for Fox News since its 1996 launch, spoke with THR's Paul Bond.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: What was it like in the early days at Fox News?
Shepard Smith: It was lame and confusing. And, thankfully, not a lot of people were watching because we were practicing on air. It took awhile, but we figured it out.
THR: You show up in polls as one of the most trusted journalists. Why?
Smith: I try to get it right. When I don't, I am duty-bound to correct it immediately and in the same placement in the newscast, and to apologize for it. When I make an error, it's a very bad day in my house.
THR: Why has Fox News dominated for 10 years?
Smith:We don't pretend it's not interesting; we don't take ourselves too seriously. And, in large part, we have people from regular places who had regular lives who ended up in Roger Ailes' world. I'm not a liberal elite who was educated in the Northeast, for example; I'm just a kid from Mississippi.
THR: So what are MSNBC and CNN doing wrong?
Smith:Well, if I knew that, I wouldn't tell you. Everybody has a different plan, and ours is to have a bunch of opinion programming that makes a bunch of money so that our journalists can spend it gathering information.
THR:Critics say Fox News didn't cover the News of the World hacking scandal sufficiently.
Smith:I'm sure they would. I was horrified by the scandal. Everyone I know was horrified. Mr. [Rupert] Murdoch has said he was. There are 58,000 employees in this company. Some bad people did bad things. It's being handled, to my understanding.
THR:Does it bother you that some Fox shows, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, make fun of Fox News?
Smith:I don't care. Look, when you skyrocket to the top, when you overtake a category leader for the first time in the history of cable news, when you dominate to the point you beat all of the competition combined, then you're on the top of the hill, above the tree line and open to incoming fire, just as the boss said we'd be 11 years ago.
THR: Do you miss Glenn Beck?