Shep Smith: Journalists are not the enemy of the people

Fox News chief news anchor Shepard Smith on Thursday pushed back on escalating tensions between the news media and the Trump White House, declaring that "journalists are not the enemies of the people."

"For those of you at home, if I may, journalists are not the enemies of the people. It's quite the opposite," Smith said during his afternoon newscast. "Our profession is enshrined in the Constitution and the fourth estate holds the essential job of being your eyes and often ears and, when appropriate, your voice. It's a cornerstone of our republic."

"Over 22 years at this network, it's been my experience that the journalists of Fox News and Fox Business and those of our colleagues at competitors at CNN and MSNBC, NBC, ABC and CBS, Bloomberg and PBS, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, The Washington Post – all of them operate in the public interests," he continued.

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"We work to discern what is truth. Then to present it to you in context and with perspective. As your representatives in the people's halls, report to you without fear or favor while striving to hold those in power to the same standards. This is the foundation of what we do," the 54-year-old anchor concluded.

CNN anchor Don Lemon praised Smith for the monologue on Twitter.

"Bravo to the @ShepNewsTeam. And I might add, thank you," wrote Lemon, the anchor of "CNN Tonight," while adding the hashtag #FreedomofthePress. 

The longtime Fox News anchor delivered the commentary a day after the White House escalated tensions with the news media by disinviting CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from a Rose Garden event, sparking wide outcry from journalists and news outlets.

The White House barred Collins from the event after she repeatedly asked President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE about news regarding his former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen and Russian President Vladimir Putin during an Oval Office meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

CNN said in a statement Wednesday that Collins spoke at a normal volume when questioning the president, and argued that the White House's decision to bar its reporter from the event was not "indicative of an open and free press."

"Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of day doesn't mean the question isn't relevant and shouldn't be asked," the network said. "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better."

Fox News anchor Bret Baier also weighed in on Wednesday by voicing the network's support for its rival network.

"As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access," Baier said on Wednesday night's "Special Report."

The White House has sparred with CNN most of any of the major news organizations, with the president repeatedly referring to its critical coverage as "fake news."

CNN reporter Jim Acosta also questioned Trump in late June on whether he would "stop calling the press the 'enemy of the people'" after a deadly shooting at a newspaper in Maryland.

Trump has not appeared on CNN in more than 23 months. He last appeared on the network when he was a presidential candidate, interviewing for "Anderson Cooper 360" in August 2016.