Shepard Smith leaving Fox News

Longtime Fox News host Shepard Smith is leaving the network after 23 years, saying he plans to "begin a new chapter."

Smith addressed his departure at the end of his afternoon program on the network, "Shepard Smith Reporting," which he hosted on weekdays on Fox News since 2013.

“Together with my colleagues we’ve written a first draft of history and endeavored to deliver it to you, while speaking truth to power, without fear or favor with context and perspective," Smith said while speaking directly to viewers.

"This is my last newscast here. Thank you for watching today and over the decades," the 55-year-old anchor continued. "It’s been an honor and my pleasure. Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, and that journalism and journalists will thrive."

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Fox News also issued a statement from Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media, announcing Smith's departure, saying he would step down as chief news anchor and managing editor of the network's breaking news unit.

“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," Smith said in a statement released by the network.

"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. 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 first joined Fox News in 1996 as one of its original hires, covering major breaking stories for the past two decades.

During the past few years, the anchor has repeatedly drawn the ire of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE after pushing back on various remarks from the president.

The president most recently criticized Smith in a tweet on Thursday while knocking a Fox News poll that showed growing support for his impeachment and removal from office.

Smith has also been at odds with some members of the opinion side of Fox News in recent weeks, most notably its 8 p.m. ET host Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonKaren McDougal sues Fox News over alleged slander Conservative Dan Bongino launches alternative to the Drudge Report Trump's Afghanistan 'peace deal' evidences Tucker Carlson's 'salesman' claim MORE

On Sept. 26, Smith defended the network's chief legal analyst, Judge Andrew NapolitanoAndrew Peter NapolitanoFox's Napolitano predicts Trump will testify on own behalf at Senate trial Fox's Napolitano says obstruction 'easiest' impeachment offense for Democrats Fox's Napolitano: Trump loses the 'unfair' argument by not participating in hearings MORE, after a guest, former U.S. attorney Joe diGenova, called Napolitano "a fool." 

"Attacking our colleague, who’s here to offer legal assessments on our air, in our work home, is repugnant," Smith said on the air.

Carlson later that night mockingly quipped, "repugnant" after playing back Smith's comment.

"Not clear if that was you or me but someone was repugnant," he said, adding that Smith "ironically" called diGenova "partisan."

Trump reacted with surprise to the news of Smith's departure.
 
 
“I don’t know. Is he leaving? That’s a shame," Trump said on the South Lawn before departing for a rally in Louisiana. 

“Is he leaving because of bad ratings?” Trump continued. "If he’s leaving, I assume he’s leaving because he had bad ratings.” 
 
“He had the worst ratings at Fox," Trump said, before adding, “I wish Shepherd Smith well.”
 
Fox has said that a series of rotating anchors will host the 3 p.m. time slot until a new dayside news program is announced.

“Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry," Wallace said in his statement Friday.

"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," he added.

"We are proud of the signature reporting and anchoring style he honed at FOX News, along with everything he accomplished here during his monumental 23-year tenure. While this day is especially difficult as his former producer, we respect his decision and are deeply grateful for his immense contributions to the entire network.”

Smith said on his program on Friday that "under our agreement I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future," adding, "But I will be able to see more of ... our friends and family, then we’ll see what comes along."