Smith made his first public speech since his abrupt departure from Fox at the 2019 International Press Freedom Awards show in New York on Thursday, where he announced that he is personally donating $500,000 to an organization that protects freedom of the press.
Shepard Smith breaks silence
As he delivered awards from the Committee to Protect Journalists to six recipients from around the world, Smith didn’t directly name President Trump. But he ranted against “autocrats” who “vilify” critical reporters.
His remarks, at least in the context of Trump and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, were a bit ridiculous in light of the fact that the annual event is intended to honor journalists all over the world who place themselves at real risk in places that don’t enjoy the same freedoms of the press as America.
Proving that point, Smith has the freedom to criticize the president without worrying about any legal or physical ramifications from the government. And Smith certainly enjoyed that freedom during his speech at the annual dinner.
“Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomena,” Smith said, according to USA Today.
“We don’t have to look far for evidence of that,” he added, in a not-so-subtle dig at Trump.
“Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature,” he said, prior to another thinly-veiled shot at Trump and Fox News.
“Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies masquerading as news. … There’s a phrase for that.”
“They dispatch troll armies after critical reporters, who are vilified and harassed. Their personal information — such as phone numbers, address, ID numbers — posted and published as an invitation for even more attacks,” Smith added.
Defending free speech, which Smith still enjoys
Smith said the current landscape of the media world was “depressing,” and encouraged open partisanship and activism among his fellow journalists, cloaked in support of free speech.
“We know that journalists are sometimes wary of being perceived as activists for some cause,” Smith said. “But press freedom is not the preserve of one political group or one political party. It’s a value embedded in our very foundational documents. Journalists need to join hands to defend it.”
It was already pretty clear that Smith disapproves of President Trump, and his comments here only further confirm it.