Former Fox News anchor Shep Smith joins CNBC

Smith will anchor a new one-hour evening news program titled "The News With Shepard Smith," airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Jane Skinner Visits "Shepard Smith Reporting"
Shepard Smith Reporting at Fox News Channel Studios on Sept. 17, 2019 in New York.Steven Ferdman / Getty Images file

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By Dylan Byers

Shepard Smith, the former Fox News anchor who left last year amid tensions with the channel's more conservative voices, is joining CNBC as a prime-time anchor, the financial news network announced Wednesday.

The hire brings one of cable news' most high-profile free agents to CNBC as the network is reportedly planning to add more news and commentary to its prime-time hours, which have historically been home to reality shows like "Shark Tank" and "The Profit."

Smith will anchor a new one-hour evening news program titled "The News With Shepard Smith," airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET, the network said. He will also assume the new roles of CNBC’s chief general news anchor and chief breaking general news anchor.

Mark Hoffman, the chairman of CNBC, characterized Smith's hire as part of CNBC's effort to provide fact-based news in a climate of political partisanship and misinformation.

“Information is coming at us from every direction. If we’re not careful life-altering decisions will be made based on half-truth, rumor, misdirection or worse,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“We aim to deliver a nightly program that, in some small way, looks for the signal in all the noise," he said. "We’re thrilled that Shep, who’s built a career on an honest fight to find and report the facts, will continue his pursuit of the truth at CNBC.”

CNBC is owned by NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News.

Smith is the first big talent hire following NBCUniversal's move to reunite its three news brands — NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC — under the direction of one leader, NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde.

In May, The New York Times reported that NBCUniversal chief executive Jeff Shell had privately suggested that he wants to make CNBC's prime-time hours a home for conservative programming to counter the pro-Trump Fox News and the more liberal MSNBC, as well as CNN, the historically centrist news network that has taken an aggressively anti-Trump stance during his administration. Hilary Smith, the top communications executive for NBCUniversal, said that the company had no comment on the Times report.

Smith joined Fox News shortly after its launch in 1996. As the network grew more conservative and supportive of President Donald Trump, Smith's willingness to call out misinformation and misleading claims from the administration put him in opposition to the cable news channel's more fervent pro-Trump voices.

Last year, after 23 years with the network, Smith stepped down amid tensions with hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, the network's two most popular prime-time hosts. Those tensions sometimes surfaced on air, with Smith at one point calling Carlson's behavior "repugnant."

Smith also drew fire from Trump, a frequent critic of any cable news outlets that fail to flatter him, including on rare occasions Fox News.

“Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith," the president tweeted in August 2019, two months before Smith left the network.

In a statement, Smith said that "gathering and reporting the news has been my life’s work. I am honored to continue to pursue the truth, both for CNBC’s loyal viewers and for those who have been following my reporting for decades in good times and in bad."

CORRECTION (July 8, 2020, 5:25 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the first name of the new CNBC anchor. He is Shepard Smith, not Shephard.