Insider: Mr. Smith Goes to the (Video) Wall

Sep 23, 2007  •  Post A Comment

At Fox News Channel, Shepard Smith is to newscasts what stablemate Bill O’Reilly is to prime-time cable opinion: the king. His “Fox Report,” at 7 p.m. weeknights, has left his cable news competitors in the ratings dust for nearly 72 months in a row.
Just when you thought he couldn’t wedge any more information into his news hour — hedoesspeaksoquicklyandsparinglyit’s awonderhedoesn’tholdaGuinnessBookrecordformostratatatanchor — he gets the ability to squeeze more video feeds and data into view. Being unveiled tonight is a new ultra-high-tech set — make that “environment” — that’s got plasma screens out the ying-yang, rear-projection screens and an LED stealth screen, all of which he’ll eventually be able to play co-director with at some point. (The founding Fox News anchor’s afternoon hour “Studio B,” also a time-period winner, soon will move to the new studio space.)
He’ll be adding a regular segment that showcases blogs, user-generated “U Report” and commentary from personalities in those worlds.
“On the first day we’re not going to overwhelm people with radical changes,” Mr. Smith assured The Insider, who always has been and always will be a uni-tasker.
Top priority remains “content, truly. … Perspective and context. We’ll update the news of the day,” he said. He also promised that the faithful but enough-already viewers have been heard and there is no more rampant abuse of visual and verbal teasers. “Now we just tell you what’s coming up next. If I say, ‘It’s next,’ it’s next.”
While she had Mr. Smith’s ear, The Insider dragged him into some other subject areas.
You’ve got a new high-tech set, but just how high-tech-savvy are you personally? What gizmodoodles do you own/use/carry on a regular basis?
I was the first person I know to have TiVo. That was so many years ago. Nobody knew what it was and I couldn’t explain to anybody what it was and why they needed it. All I kept hearing was, I don’t need more television. I’m like: Look, this is so you can have the TV you want. Of course, when I watch TiVo, I watch the commercials, because the commercials are important. You learn about culture and society through commercials. I mean, what if you didn’t meet the Geico gecko? Really. What if you didn’t know about Head On applied directly to the forehead? I like gadgets and gizmos. I keep a GPS around. I’ve always liked gadgets. My parents still complain that I used to take the electrical sockets apart and put them back together, and the phones apart, when I was like 6.
What’s the next career goal?
I want this to be the next level of news on television. My next career goal is to do this better. My next career goal starts on Monday. I’ve got the best job in the world. I know that.
While we’re talking careers, got any career advice for Dan Rather, who just sued his former bosses at CBS and Viacom last week?
Oh, my goodness. I would never presume to give a man of Dan Rather’s stature advice. Here’s what I know about Dan Rather. [Early in the war] my crew and I were stuck in Baghdad, stuck there. We had no way out. The airport was closed. There were fires in the distance. The flight we were supposed to be taking does not exist. Jay Walsh and I were there for the first time. And we’re alone. The airport is empty and we’re terrified. What comes along but a CBS jet? There’s zero reason for CBS to give us anything. Dan Rather walked by and I’m like, ‘Dan, we’re stuck.’ He goes, ‘Shucks, come get on our plane.’ He told us how much he enjoyed our broadcast. He gave us advice about how to be good communicators. He was respectful. And we’ll never forget it.
Dan Rather was the perfect gentleman and he always has been with me. I’ve always admired that part of him. He is forever a part of this industry.

One Comment

  1. Shepard Smith is easily the finest news anchor I’ve seen in my 55+ years.

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