Culture

Not Surprising: Shepard Smith in Talks to Join MSNBC

Fox News Channel chief news anchor Shepard Smith broadcasts from The Fox News Deck during his "Shepard Smith Reporting" program, in New York, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The news that Shepard Smith was leaving Fox News came abruptly, but not all that shockingly some months ago. Many Fox News viewers felt he wasn’t fitting in anymore at the right-leaning network and that he sounded more like an MSNBC host.

Well, it looks like they were more correct than they knew. According to The Daily Beast, Shepard Smith is in talks to join the DNC mouthpiece network.

MSNBC talent and staffers are bracing for a major 2020 shakeup amid discussion of moving ratings-challenged Chuck Todd to a morning slot and execs talking with Fox News escapee Shepard Smith.

The goal of any reshuffle would be to shed ratings dead weight in the lead-up to the election. Sources at the network cautioned that a new look for the lineup is still up in the air, but brass have been batting around several options.

One of those is new blood in the form of Smith, who abruptly quit Fox News late last year after on-air skirmishes with Tucker Carlson and other prime-time hosts. Smith has had conversations with MSNBC President Phil Griffin about a potential gig when his non-compete clause expires, although his price tag is expected to be considerable for any interested network.

An MSNBC insider tells The Daily Beast that it is “unclear” what slot he would take, but it would a primetime slot. “We are well aware [Jeff] Zucker [president of CNN] is also pursuing him, as are a number of the networks.”

Chuck Todd’s MTP Daily has underperformed at its 5 p.m. slot, which is why there is talk about moving Todd’s show to the morning. According to TDB, he is resisting that move. “Several sources inside NBC cited the perception that his new slot would hurt him with an even bigger dip for any program that airs after the successful Morning Joe franchise. Others said that some of the show’s staffers were less than thrilled by the scheduling demands of an earlier time slot.”

Wherever Shepard Smith ends up I’m sure they’ll be better fits than Fox News was for him before he left. I’m sure Rachel Maddow will welcome him with open arms if he ends up there.

_____

Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis