With Megyn Kelly getting her own opinion show, it appeared someone would have to be bumped from the Fox News prime-time lineup. That person is Shepard Smith, but he’s getting an interesting consolation prize, and claims, “my team and I are pumped.” The network announced on Thursday that Smith will continue anchoring a 3 p.m. newscast, but give up his 7 p.m. slot, presumably to Sean Hannity so Kelly can take over at 9 p.m. (this may be The Kelly File’s intro). But Shep isn’t being demoted to being a daytime-only anchor; he’ll also pop up on the network throughout the day as the head of its new “breaking news division.”
At the end of tonight’s Fox Report, Smith explained that when he makes his return after getting shoulder surgery, he’ll be reporting from the “Fox News Deck,” a new studio that will pull together social media and traditional reporting, allowing him to cut into any Fox News program when stories break (how the social media aspect will differ from CNN constantly checking in with the folks on Twitter remains to be seen).
If Smith is annoyed about losing his evening gig to make way for an extra hour or opinion programming — and having to be on call at all hours — he didn’t show it. He’s been in his slot since 1999 and told the New York Times, “I’ve been bored for a long time.” And repeating the old Fox News line about folks like Bill O’Reilly being totally separate from the network’s “fair and balanced” reporting, he said having a separate breaking news team is a smart move. “My team is really good at news,” he explained. “They are really good at programming [i.e. opinion]. For me one of the best things we can do is raise the wall between news and programming even higher. We need that wall high. We serve different functions.”