Two weeks shy of a year after abruptly quitting Fox News Channel with a declaration that "truth will always matter," Shepard Smith returns to television this week at his unexpected new home. He begins a general interest nightly newscast Wednesday at 7pm on the financial network CNBC, putting him back in the time slot he loved before Fox moved him to the afternoon seven years ago, per the AP. The 56-year-old newsman, a Fox News original who joined that network when it launched in 1996, says he's relishing the fresh start. "We're going to come out and do just the news," he says. "We're not planning to do any analysis in our news hour. We're going to have journalists, reporters, sound and video. We're going to have newsmakers and experts ... but no pundits. We're going to leave the opinion to others. It's exactly what I've been wanting to do. It's what I've been working at for 30 years."
Smith's 3pm Fox newscast stood out at a network where opinion is king, and sometimes he challenged statements made by the network's prime-time hosts. After his departure from Fox, Smith said he enjoyed some downtime, with a couple of vacations. He also took meetings with plenty of media suitors. With CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast networks all courting Smith, CNBC was considered an underdog, at best. But every few years, when Smith approached the end of a contract, CNBC Chair Mark Hoffman would check in with Smith's agent, Larry Kramer. In a nearly empty Manhattan restaurant just before the COVID shutdown, the three men met. Smith says he heard great ideas from other networks, but that "this one fit better." He'll work out of a new studio that's been built for him at CNBC's New Jersey headquarters. "It's not an easy thing to start from scratch," Smith says. But "it was fun creating [a general newscast] in 1996, and it's fun creating [it] in 2020."
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