Shepard Smith, the new director of Fox News’ breaking news operation, is by far the channel’s most lovable anchor—a cuddly-if-irascible antidote to his demagoguing colleagues. Like most people on television, however, he’s a lot less nice in person. Especially to waitresses.
One night last March, at a Chelsea speakeasy called Bathtub Gin, Smith and a group of friends were downing cocktails when the 49-year-old anchor, his drink half empty, noticed their waitress attending another table.
He wanted the next round now.
“He got up from his table, grabbed my elbow, and started yelling,” the waitress, a 30-year-old woman named Katya Minskova, told Gawker. Smith continued berating her: “Where the fuck is my drink! Where is my fucking drink! Get my fucking drink!”
(Smith prefers a special off-menu concoction of gin, muddled cucumber, and shaved ice when he patronizes Bathtub Gin. In fact, he never orders anything printed on the speakeasy’s menu.)
“He started smacking his hands, like the back of his right hand into the palm of his left,” Minskova said. “He was spitting. His veins were popping out.”
Smith had arrived earlier that night with a straight couple and his own regular date, a muscular 6-foot-2 30-something white male, whom Bathtub Gin employees refer to as “his boyfriend.” Like most other nights—Smith frequents the bar, located behind a coffee shop on 9th Avenue, about once a week—the anchor’s attention fell on his date. According to Minskova and one other source, who have seen Smith and his date drink there on multiple occasions, the couple frequently holds hands and rests them in each others’ laps under the table. Nobody we spoke with, including several Fox insiders, knew the name of Smith's date.
“There was no reason for you to scream at me,” Minskova told Smith.
“Yes, there was. You’re fucking slow. I told you I wanted a second round.”
Smith continued: “Why don’t you take my order right now?”
Minskova tried explaining that the bartender was still mixing the second round, but Smith, visibly angry, told her to cancel it and asked for the check, a duty she passed to another waitress before telling the speakeasy’s manager what had happened.
“I’ve dealt with assholes and drunks before,” said Minskova, who has worked in the service industry for several years. “But nothing like this.”
Smith and his entourage left without leaving a tip, and without apologizing. Minskova wound up quitting a few months later.
It wouldn’t be Smith’s first public demonstration of rage. In 2000, while covering the Florida recount, he was arrested by Tallahassee police for “aggravated battery” against a female reporter, after he reportedly slammed his car into her standing body. (Here is his mugshot.) The charge was dismissed after Smith and his victim agreed to an out-of-court settlement.
Neither Shepard Smith nor Fox News Channel responded to emails, a voicemail, and a faxed letter requesting comment. The owner of Bathtub Gin did not respond to requests for comment, either.
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[Image by Jim Cooke]