Is Fox News anchor Shepard Smith gay? Who cares?
In an unmistakable sign that we’ve evolved into a true post-gay culture, Gawker’s so-called outing of Smith last week drew a collective yawn from the media. Imagine, a gay anchor on the Red State network of choice, and barely a peep!
Maybe it’s because the “scoop” was buried in a snarky item about an alleged bar incident in New York from eight months ago. According to Gawker, Smith yelled at a waitress to hurry up with his drinks. Six paragraphs later, it noted that his date that night was a “muscular 6-foot-2… white male.”
Three days later, Gawker identified the date as a 26-year-old former production assistant on Smith’s old show, "The Fox Report." (Smith, 49, is now anchor/managing editor of breaking news, and his boyfriend, Gawker says, is a producer at Fox Business.) Neither responded to the site’s numerous interview requests.
Let me say, right off, that I like Shep Smith. He’s one of the good guys at a network that regularly pushes my blood pressure to dangerous levels. For some of us, Sean Hannity, for example, could someday be listed as a cause of death, and not just because of his hair.
Smith has reporting chops. He cops an attitude from time to time, but mostly, pardon the expression, he plays it straight. Whether he bats for my team is of little concern to me. Frankly, I’m more concerned that he comes from Mississippi, which is almost as conservative as Pennsylvania.
For the record, Smith married Ole Miss classmate Virginia Donald in 1987, according to Wikipedia, and they divorced six years later. Still, Smith, like CNN’s Anderson Cooper before him, has long been a subject of intense interest by gay media.
He’s listed among Out magazine’s Power 100, and The Advocate spotlights him as a major media player. Cooper was similarly feted for years before coming out publicly in July 2012. Though an open secret in the industry, his acknowledgement created beaucoup buzz.
That was only 15 months ago, but look how far the country has come – well, except for Pennsylvania.
DOMA is dead. A majority of Americans favor same-sex marriage; it’s legal in 14 states and Washington, D.C. "Good Morning America" celebrated the gay nuptials of its weatherguy, Sam Champion. (Could another "GMA” wedding be on the horizon? Hmmm.)
On cable, openly-gay anchors abound: Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts at MSNBC; Don Lemon and Jane Velez-Mitchell -- both NBC10 exiles –- and Cooper at CNN. Smith would be the first at Fox News, should he decide to accept the mission.
My guess is that it probably wouldn’t be that big a deal. Some of Fox News’ most high-profile anchors are beginning to see the light on gay equality, if their support of same-sex marriage is any barometer. I wouldn’t be surprised if Roger Ailes offered to pick up the tab on Smith’s wedding, should he have one.
All of which means that what was once a raging and controversial story is barely even a story anymore. To me, that’s the best news of all.