Let’s go over this one more time for the cheap seats: No matter how strongly Gawker may believe otherwise, Shepard Smith’s sexual orientation is not news unless he chooses to make it news. (And even then it might not be news.) Yesterday, Shep Smith’s dedicated stalker J.K. Trotter penned yet another column for Gawker in which he tried to get to the bottom of one of the greatest mysteries of our time: whether or not Shep is willing to admit publicly that he’s gay. In a piece called “My Very Weird Night with Shepard Smith,” Trotter details showing up at a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association gala in Manhattan last week and essentially following Shep around the room — Shep apparently attended for the first time this year — trying to get the goods on whether his mere attendance might signify a “coming out.” Trotter attempts to inject intrigue into the story by noting that Shep was flanked by three official Fox News handlers and that his presence was the topic of quite a bit of buzz among the anonymously attributed guests Trotter talked to, but overall that’s about all there is to the story.
Oh, except for the part where Trotter accosted Shep on his way out the door, identified himself as a Gawker reporter and began asking him whether by merely being there he was acknowledging that he’s gay. Reportedly one of Shep’s handlers tried to move Trotter out of the way, but in the end Shep politely brushed him off, snapped a picture of him with his phone, then got in an SUV and left. Following the minor incident, Trotter says that the organizer of the event — CNN producer Javi Morgado — confronted him and demanded that he leave. Trotter then attempts to justify his questioning of Shep by noting the supposed dual-hypocrisy of Fox News co-sponsoring the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association annual event while often being retrograde on gay issues, and the NLGJA taking Fox’s money and not criticizing it for its many infractions. Indeed, maybe there’s a story there, and a good one. But Trotter doesn’t really give a damn about that story and any attempt to make it seem as if that’s his true motivation is highly disingenuous. This makes Trotter’s thirdpiece since last October specifically aimed at outing Shepard Smith, whose sexual orientation, needless to say, is the worst kept secret in television news. Shep is Trotter’s white whale.
Full disclosure: I’m good friends with both Shep and Javi Morgado. I came up through the ranks with them, lived right around the corner from Shep during my first gig in L.A., and remained close to Javi throughout my time in New York City, since we both did a tour at NBC Miami in the late 90s. Javi’s obviously out, and not only is he out, he’s done unbelievably positive things for the gay community in journalism and the community in general over the past several years, up to and including personally fighting for new fire safety laws for high-rises after a friend of his was killed in a Manhattan high-rise fire back in January. Shep, meanwhile, is Shep. His work speaks for itself and given that he’s been the voice of reason at Fox News for years it’s hard to see how his sexual orientation matters one bit or amounts to any sort of hypocrisy. Maybe other Fox News hosts are reactionary assholes when it comes to gay issues but Shep himself has never been; whether this is because he’s actually gay or just a decent human being shouldn’t and doesn’t matter in the least.
For some reason Gawker and Trotter in particular have made it their mission to officially “out” Shep or at least get him to confirm publicly what most people already know. But Shep doesn’t have to do that, certainly not because J.K. Trotter demands it or thinks it’s titillating and would make for good copy. What he’s been doing for the past six months is, in many ways, infinitely more retrograde when it comes to how gay people are portrayed in the media than anything Shep has supposedly done through his relative silence. Bottom line: Shep doesn’t owe Trotter or anyone else shit. He certainly doesn’t owe anyone an explanation. And Trotter can continue to stalk Shep, crank out prurient copy on him, and pretend that he’s staking out some kind of moral high ground by doing so. It’s always going to be crap and the only one who’ll look bad is him.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.