SHAMEFUL: Dear Roger Ailes, Is Shepard Smith a Reporter or Commentator?

Written by Allan Erickson on September 10, 2015

Dear Fox News Manager:
I’m writing to protest today’s coverage of the Kim Davis situation by Shepard Smith.
Is Mr. Smith a reporter or a commentator?  Based on his performance September 8, I’d have to say he is certainly not an objective reporter.  Nor is he a responsible commentator.  Rather, the case can be made he is a propagandist.
Instead of allowing us to listen to the full remarks of Mat Staver, Kim Davis’s attorney, Mr. Smith jumped in to condemn both Staver and Davis, saying it’s obvious they want more than a simple accommodation of her religious conscience.  Mr. Smith likened these Christian people to Jihadists pushing Sharia, and in so doing, he completely misrepresented them and their position, engaging in the most reprehensible hyperbole.
At an earlier press conference, Mr. Staver responded to a reporter saying he will continue asking state authorities to respect Davis’s  right to conscience.  Another reporter asked him if the licenses processed for same sex individuals were valid.  Staver cited state law saying issuing those licenses, prior to state authority being transferred, was illegal.  It was not a declaration of war, or a stated intention to take this beyond issues of proper procedure.  However, Mr. Smith immediately reinterpreted Staver’s remarks, characterizing them as a declaration of war, likening Staver and Davis to Jihadists pushing Sharia, accusing them of trying to establish a theocracy in America.  Mr. Smith went on to insult Mr. Staver, essentially saying Staver was exploiting the situation and making it into a spectacle, one certain to die “within a couple news cycles”.
Had Mr. Smith done his job, he would have done his homework, and offered your viewers informed coverage of this important event.   He would have reported there is a growing movement in our country to preserve religious liberty, obviously under assault from various directions.  He would have explored the legitimate constitutional questions involved, and the threats to everyone’s liberty present in this and other circumstances where we see the rights of citizens trampled under the feet of judicial tyrants.   He would have pointed out that the Founders never intended the Supreme Court to be a legislative body, that a ruling is not settled law, that Congress makes laws, even in the wake of SCOTUS rulings.   He might have shown there was no reason for Davis to be jailed, that jailing her was the act of a government out of control, one exhibiting complete disregard for the rights of citizens.   He might have allowed us to listen to Mr. Staver’s full remarks instead of interrupting and mischaracterizing statements the rest of us were prevented from hearing.
Mr. Smith might also have brought in Harry Mihet, an associate of Mr. Staver’s, to ask him about the constitutional implications of jailing an elected official simply for having a point of view. 
Instead, Mr. Smith chose to ridicule and condemn Davis and Smith, comparing Christians in this country to the Taliban.  It was a ridiculous and shameful display on his part.
I notice Mr. Smith is not a lawyer.  He is not a constitutional scholar.  However, he spent many years reporting news in northern Florida, so I can assume he is very familiar with Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel, their main office being in Orlando.  His unfair, and aggressively negative treatment of Mr. Staver today on national television reveals a depth of bias allowing Mr. Smith to violate basic principles of journalistic fairness, balance and accuracy. 
Allan Erickson

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Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter, and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012.