Longtime Fox News anchor Shepard Smith announced on Friday he is leaving the conservative cable network.
After 23 years at the Rupert Murdoch-owned news channel, its chief news anchor announced during a broadcast of the eponymous Shepard Smith Reporting that he "recently... asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News."
"This is my last newscast here," Smith said. "Thank you for watching today and over the decades as I traveled to many of your communities and anchored this program, Studio B, and Fox Report, plus endless marathon hours of breaking news. It's been an honor and my pleasure. Even in our currently polarized nation, it's my hope that the fact will win the day."
According toNBC News correspondent Jo Ling Kent, colleagues at Fox News were "shocked" when Smith announced he was leaving the network, and "some were visibly upset." He has been a mainstay at Fox News since it was founded in 1996.
Even Smith's signoff noted the unusual circumstances of his resignation, claiming Fox News requested he "stay obliged."
"Under our agreement, I won't be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future," he said, before noting that he would use the opportunity to spend more time with his partner, Giovanni Graziano, and their dog. "But I will be able to see more of Gio and Lucia and our friends and family and then we will see what comes along."
Smith, the sole out correspondent at Fox News, came out as a gay man in 2017 but denied that he had been "in the closet."
"I don't think about it," he said of his sexual orientation at the time. "It's not a thing. I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I'm in love with."
According to The Guardian, Smith's sudden departure is a result of disagreements with colleagues at the right-wing outlet over the fallout from Donald Trump's call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he attempted to pressure the foreign leader into digging up dirt on political rival Joe Biden.
Smith has long been Trump's most vocal critic at Fox News, hitting back at the president's false claims about his border wall, his attacks on Congresswomen of color, and treatment of the media.
The network will replace Smith with a "set of rotating anchors," according to Kent.
Note: This story has been updated from a previous version.
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