BREAKING: Shepard Smith leaves Fox News effective immediately

Shepard Smith is leaving Fox News after joining the network in 1996 he announced on Friday

Shepard Smith is leaving Fox News.

The midday anchor, who has been with the network since its inception in 1996, will step down from his role as Chief News Anchor and Managing Editor of the network’s breaking news unit and Anchor of Shepard Smith Reporting effective immediately the network said in a release.

‘Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry,’ said Fox News Media president Jay Wallace.

‘His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put FOX News on the map and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery.’

Multiple sources told DailyMail.com that Smith’s departure came as a total shock to most at the network, with Smith having signed a multiyear contract just 18 months ago.

‘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,’ said Smith.

‘The opportunities afforded this guy from small-town Mississippi have been many. It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor.’

He continued: ‘I’ve worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I’m proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them.’

Smith also made it clear that he will be off the air for at least some time.

‘Under our agreement, I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future, but I will be able to see more of [my partner] Gio and [our dog] Lucia and our friends and family and then we will see what comes along,’ said Smith.

‘This is my last newscast here. Thank you for watching today and over the decades.’

He then closed out his final newscast by stating: ‘It’s been an honor and my pleasure.’

In the past few years, he has come under fire while at the same time being praised for some of his reporting on President Donald Trump, who is close with fellow Fox News host Sean Hannity.

It all kicked off in 2016 when he said that Trump trades in racism’ after one of his guests, Wall Street Journal reporter James Grimaldi, said that the then-Republican nominee ‘trades in hyperbole.’

Comments like those are the main reason it would seem that President Trump never appeared on Smith’s show, despite the anchor reaching out to his campaign for an interview.

‘I would like to have some time with him,’ said Smith back in 2016.

‘For me, at least, it would be interesting to go through the things he’s said and the things he’s done and try to get an explanation.’

When asked about Smith’s departure on Friday by DailyMail.com, President Trump said: ‘Is he leaving because of bad ratings? Is he leaving because of me?’

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