Longtime news anchor Shepard Smith arrived at CNBC to much fanfare, but will soon leave with barely a whimper.
Smith signed with CNBC in 2020 to anchor a show that would provide "non-partisan coverage of the day’s most important stories." That show, "The News with Shepard Smith," began airing in late September of that year at the coveted 7 p.m. slot.
"The News with Shepard Smith" has now been canceled after just two years. The final episode will air at the end of the month. Smith, 58, will reportedly leave the network at that time as well.
Though Smith managed to book many high-profile guests, "The News with Shepard Smith" struggled mightily in the ratings. The Washington Post claimed that Smith's CNBC program was not even in the top 50 of the most-watched cable news shows between June and September. The L.A. Times also implied that Smith never really stood out or offered a contrasting perspective or approach at CNBC.
CNBC has never tried to outperform cable news titans Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC. However, it has carved out a solid niche for an audience of largely business-minded professionals. And executives claim that ousting Smith's show is an attempt to return the network to its roots.
"After spending time with many of you and closely reviewing the various aspects of our business, I believe we must prioritize and focus on our core strengths of business news and personal finance," a memo from CNBC President KC Sullivan reads in part.
"We need to further invest in business news content that provides our audiences actionable understanding of the complex developments in global markets and the implications on institutions, investors and individuals," the memo adds.
Smith is best known for the 23 years he spent at Fox News. For much of his time at Fox, Smith hosted a prime-time news program entitled "The Fox Report with Shepard Smith." His program then became "Shepard Smith Reporting" and moved to the late afternoon. However, Smith eventually became frustrated with various opinion show hosts, including Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, who demonstrated what Smith believed to be a heavy bias in favor of then-President Donald Trump, and he resigned abruptly in 2019.
"Opine all you like," Smith said on an appearance on CNN shortly thereafter, "but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there. When people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society, and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing. Those of us who are so honored and grateful to have a platform of public influence have to use it for the public good."
After Smith's final episode, CNBC will air market coverage at 7 p.m. until a business-oriented replacement program launches sometime next year.