Fox News anchor Shepard Smith denied a 2014 report that the network’s former CEO Roger Ailes forced him to hide his sexual orientation in a new interview with The Huffington Post on Monday, October 17.
Smith, 52, addressed the longtime rumor started by a 2014 Gawker report, which claimed he wanted to publicly come out of the closet as gay but that Ailes, 76, prevented him from doing so.
“That’s not true,” the journalist told The Huffington Post. “He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father. I trusted him with my career and with — I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”
As Us Weekly previously reported, Fox News founder Ailes was the chairman and CEO until this past July, when he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations first sparked by network alum Gretchen Carlson.
In September, Carlson, 50, settled a lawsuit she filed against 21st Century Fox, and reportedly received $20 million. Ailes, who denied the claims of harassment and slammed the suit, has since been replaced by Rupert Murdoch.
Smith, however, insists Ailes treated him with nothing but respect. “I wasn’t new in the business when I came [to Fox News] — I’d been doing reporting for 12 years — but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world, and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day,” he told The Huffington Post of the businessman. “It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”
Amid the drama at the network, Smith says he has advocated to cover the allegations rather than shying away from them. “It’s not over,” he said. “This was a real shock to the system, and it upended a lot of things that we thought we knew. We were wounded and horrified and very emotional, and we realize that as leaders we need to come in and face up to what we’ve learned. … We have to make sure there aren’t young victims wandering around here who need us. We have to get appropriate counselors in here. We have to make sure legally everybody’s protected and have to make a commitment to be the most transparent, open and welcoming organization of our kind in the world, and I’m determined to be a part of the team that makes it happen.”
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!