Last week, gay blogger Joe Jervis noticed that Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was listed as a “Special Guest” for Headlines & Headliners, an annual gala held by the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association in New York City. The title of Jervis’s post read: “Is Fox Anchor Shep Smith Coming Out?”
It’s a fair question. After all, Smith has a steady boyfriend, yet remains a vanishingly rare creature in cable television: a closeted anchor. If Smith comes out at the gala, scheduled for Thursday evening at the Prince George Ballroom, he would break decades of silence—and, in the same gesture, draw fresh attention to his channel’s coverage of gay people.
Interestingly, over the last few weeks, Gawker received several promotional emails from NLGJA, each featuring a “Special Guests” list that did not include Shepard Smith. Noting that Fox was sending five straight women and meteorologist Rick Reichmuth, we cold-called a few connected individuals in late February, to see if they’d talk about Smith’s absence—exclusion?—from the event. Why wasn’t he attending? Was his notoriously controlling boss, Fox News president Roger Ailes, telling him not to?
A few days after our calls, CNN producer Javier Morgado, the president of NLGJA’s New York chapter, emailed the association’s D.C. headquarters with a late addition to the “Special Guests” list: Shepard Smith.
The timing is certainly peculiar: On March 4, Smith arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, to cover the Russian occupation of Crimea, and soon told Variety reporter Brian Steinberg that he had no firm plans to return to the United States. The next day, Morgado confirmed Smith’s addition to the gala’s guest list. Smith returned to New York the following week.
Both Fox News and Morgado declined to comment.