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The Five Spot: Shepard Smith, Host, CNBC’s ‘The News with Shepard Smith’

Shepard Smith launched his nightly CNBC newscast after 23 years as Fox News Channel’s chief general news anchor.
Shepard Smith launched his nightly CNBC newscast after 23 years as Fox News Channel’s chief general news anchor. (Image credit: CNBC)

The News with Shepard Smith has launched on CNBC. Smith joined CNBC after a 23-year run at Fox News Channel, where he was chief general news anchor. The live, hour-long program starts weekdays at 7 p.m. Smith described it as “a full-plate newscast” that will not have pundits or opinion. “There’s plenty of that — I don’t hate on anybody for it,” he said. “But it’s not what we’re going to do.” 

He spoke with Multichannel News senior content producer Michael Malone about launching a newscast during COVID, and what he offers that viewers can’t get elsewhere. An edited transcript follows.

Bonus Five

Shows on your DVR/in your queue? NBC Nightly News; News 4 New York at 11; PBS NewsHour; BBC World News; Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon; Today; Meet the Press; Fox News Sunday; Face the Nation; This Week with George Stephanopoulos; Fareed Zakaria GPS; State of the Union; Deadline: White House on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow; Your World with Neil Cavuto.  

All-time top TV show? Lucy as a child. Sopranos as an adult. 

Destinations on your bucket list? Anywhere would be fantastic in these hunker-down times.

Books on your nightstand? Rage, Bob Woodward; On All Fronts, Clarissa Ward

Recent memorable meal? Backyard with friends under heaters Saturday night. Shrimp and steak, Cajun corn, potato hash, grilled asparagus, late-season peach cobbler.

Tell me about launching a show during a pandemic. It’s not something that I needed to prepare for a few months ago. It didn’t come with a road map. I have launched a number of shows but never anything like this. 

I’d met only one person at CNBC in person before COVID and that was [chairman] Mark Hoffman. We’d had many conversations to make sure this is what I wanted to do. Once we reached that conclusion and I was positive and ready to go, by then we were in lockdown. Every decision, everyone I met, has been by Zoom or Teams. Every discussion about sets, about correspondents, about editorial, about philosophies, about history, about the future, everything, by Teams.

We had more than 2,000 applicants for 27 positions. We took that as an enormous compliment and an enormous challenge to find the very best ones in the bunch. 

What will viewers get from your show they don’t get anywhere else? We seek the truth, find the truth and tell the truth and let chips fall where they may. We speak truth to power. We cover all the big stories that are part of our lives right now. Most fit into politics, COVID, information age, social justice, income inequality and climate. We want to go a little deeper and report a little harder on stories that really impact people’s lives. 

What’s a 2020 story that isn’t getting enough attention? Lake Charles, Louisiana. People were decimated by the storm. Those stories aren’t being told nationally and they should be. There are towns in the west that have been removed from the face of the earth by fires. People are looking for shelter in a pandemic. Their stories deserve to be told. 

What are you watching for fun? [Bravo’s] Million Dollar Listing Los
Angeles
. [Netflix’s] The Home Edit for reasons I can’t describe to you. Two hilarious people rearranging people’s closets is somehow entertaining to me. I spend a lot of time watching the Yankees. I like football on Sunday, but I really love football on Saturday. 

For those who go to CNBC at 7 p.m. for Shark Tank reruns, what do you say to them? [Laughs.] Wait an hour! I love Shark Tank. We have Jim Cramer on at 6 and after us is reality/aspirational money shows. There’s a place for a newscast in there. This is a loyal audience. It’s influential. To the degree that they’ll come watch us, we welcome them. 

There are people who’ve been watching me in times of great happiness and great sadness for decades. If they want to come check us out at 7 o’clock, we’d love to have them, too.