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Anchor Shepard Smith leaves Fox News in surprise announcement

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who had been with the cable network since it debuted, signed off for the final time Friday with a surprise farewell announcement.

Smith, 55, had anchored the weekday “Shepard Smith Reporting” newscast since 2013. He also was the network’s chief news anchor and managing editor for breaking news.

Fox News said it will rotate anchors into Smith’s 3 p.m. ET time slot and change the show’s name to “Fox News Reporting.”

Smith joined the network for its launch in 1996 and developed a reputation as straightforward newsman who didn’t hesitate to stray from the conservative viewpoints espoused by the channel’s evening opinion show hosts.

At times he drew the wrath of President Donald Trump, including as recently as Thursday, when the president complained about Fox News’ polling on the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Smith also has gotten on the wrong side of popular Fox News pundits Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

He didn’t give a reason for his departure during Friday’s broadcast, only saying Fox initially asked him to stay when he asked out of the multiyear contract he signed last year.

“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,” Jay Wallace, the network’s president and executive editor, said in a statement.

“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 under terms of the deal he couldn’t report for another network in the near future, but he didn’t say for how long.

“Even in our currently polarized nation, it’s my hope that the facts will win the day, that the truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive,” he said before his final sign-off.

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