Shepard Smith spent much of the last year as a Fox News anchor who wasn’t afraid to call out Republicans. This stance certainly drew the ire of Donald Trump who routinely criticized Smith for low ratings and “fake news.”
In October, the anchor said he would be leaving Fox for a, as of yet, unannounced opportunity. Smith made his first public appearance since the departure on Thursday night as the host of the International Press Freedom Awards. During the event, he made a speech slamming those who would vilify the free press.
While Smith never mentioned Trump by name during his speech, it was clear who he was talking about. “Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomena,” he said. “We don’t have to look far for evidence of that.”
The host also discussed the effect the internet has had on public discourse. “Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature,” he continued. “Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies masquerading as news. … There’s a phrase for that.”
Smith also put his money where his mouth is, “in a surprise announcement, Mr. Smith said he would personally donate $500,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit group that advances press freedoms around the world.”
The event was attended by a number of Smith’s ex-colleagues at Fox News including reporter John Roberts.