A little earlier today, the daily barrage of horseshit that's Fox News's stock-in-trade stopped once again for just a brief second so that Shepard Smith could say something human. This time around, the unsanctioned "Shep Moment of Truth" happened during the network's orgiastic coverage of newly minted Christian martyr and Disney's least adorable Minion Kim Davis's exit from jail.
If you haven't seen it yet, the post-release press conference was everything you could've imagined, with Eye of the Tiger playing and Davis raising her arms up to Jesus and Mike Huckabee apparently having one of his aides physically block Ted Cruz from muscling his way into the money shot and Davis's lawyer praising the Lord over and over.
It was about halfway through the live coverage of this insufferable little circus that Shep decided he'd had enough -- and that's when he called the whole thing out for what it was and what it means, on the air.
"Well, they've set this up as a religious play again. This is the same crowd that says, 'We don't want Sharia law! Don't let them come in here and start telling us what to do! Keep their religion out of our lives and out of our government!' Well, here we go again. When this started this lawyer said he needed an accommodation for a woman who wanted one. She said she didn't want her name on a (marriage) license for gay people. They couldn't come up with an accommodation. Now they've come up with one, they've let her out of jail and said, 'Alright, you don't have to have your name on there. We'll just put the name of the county on there. All this is done.' But it's not what they want. You're hearing now what they want. This is what they want. And this is what they're gonna get. They're gonna get a stirred-up news cycle and couple turns of a news cycle and they're gonna make these claims. And the truth is when you get right down to the fundamentals of this, the Supreme Court of the United States says that you can't have things being okay for one group of people and not okay for another group of people. This is not unprecedented. They did it when they said that black and white people couldn't married, and they said, 'Oh wait, I guess you can.' And now they've said straight people and gay people can also all get married. You wanna get married? Go right at it. The government's not gonna get in the way of you any more than it did in the way of straight people back in the day. But haters are gonna hate. And we thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they've now granted her -- something that worked for everybody. But it's not what they want. This is what they want."
As always, fuck yeah, Shep.
By now we should be used to Shepard Smith being the sole consistent voice of reason at Fox News. But each time we're shown a new example of this, it somehow still comes as a shock. I'm not sure it's because there's such a dearth of straight talk at Fox as much as it is that no one with a brain can figure out what Shep's still doing there.
Fox News has always been awful, but over the past several months the network's reactionary rhetoric and boosterism of horrific characters like Donald Trump have created a cloud over our culture so poisonous that it's hard to fathom how someone of Shep's worldview can pretend not to notice it. I've known Shep for years and consider him a good friend. As such, I'd never tell him how to live his life, particularly given that I have a real appreciation for his sense of loyalty. But it's seriously getting to the point where it's impossible to understand how someone of his intellect, talent and decency can call out the kind of crap Fox News regularly promotes without acknowledging Fox News's role in its promotion. At this point, nearly every hour of Fox News's programming, save for those hosted by Shepard Smith, pumps a noxious, choking miasma out into the world -- one that it's simply impossible not to notice without being capable of superhuman feats of self-denial.
Fox News is bad. It's bad for America. The bullshit it pushes into the cultural bloodstream is dangerous and actually hurts people. There's no way Shep doesn't understand this on some level. Because he's going to eventually have to say exactly what he said today all over again. Kim Davis isn't going anywhere. Neither is Mike Huckabee. Neither is the belief that Christianity should be the law of the land. Neither is the fear of gay people being granted the same rights as everyone else. All of these ideas and characters have legitimacy and staying power largely because Fox News wants them to. Addressing the symptoms rather than the disease accomplishes very little at this point.