The Untold Truth Of Shepard Smith

David Shepard Smith Jr. — better known as Shepard Smith — was a Fox News pundit who wasn't afraid to go against the grain. As the cable network's primary breaking news anchor, his ability to tell it like it was garnered him praise, while simultaneously infuriating some of Fox's conservative viewers. He had been with the network since its founding in 1996, but he decided to leave Fox in 2019.

Though it's clear the Mississippi native has a penchant for disseminating and rehashing the news when the cameras are on, not much is known about Smith's time away from the news desk. He has maintained a relatively low profile, but, every now and then, he gives some insight into his private life. This is the untold truth of Shepard Smith.

Inspired by The King's death

Before he became one of the most recognizable faces and voices on cable television, Shepard Smith was just a young boy living in Holly Springs, Miss., as noted by Heavy. He could've followed in his dad's footsteps and become a cotton merchant, or he could've made his mother proud by becoming an English teacher, just like her. Instead, Smith entered the workforce at the age of 13, when he was hired as a weekend soda jerk at a drugstore. "Talking and mixing with people came naturally to him," his dad, David Shepard Sr., told People magazine.

It was at that same age, in 1977, when he would discover his passion while watching the live TV coverage of Elvis Presley's funeral. "I liked the immediacy of it all," he told People of the somber broadcast.

With Smith describing his younger self as a "gadget geek" who was mesmerized by the technology of the news coverage, he told AJR, "I knew I wanted to do that someday."

A college drop-out and a marriage gone sour

After the cotton industry stalled out, Shepard Smith's family fell on hard times, ultimately resulting in his parents deciding to separate during Smith's senior year of high school. Smith, his mom, and his young brother left rural Mississippi behind and moved to Florida, but he would return to his home state after graduating high school to attend the University of Mississippi.

He had plans on graduating with a degree in journalism, but Smith made the decision to drop out of college in 1987 when he was just two credits shy of graduating. The AJR reported that Smith left college to work in television, while People magazine stated that he actually dropped out of school to marry his classmate Virginia Donald.

The young couple reportedly left Mississippi and jetted off to Panama City, Fla., where Smith landed a reporting gig. After a few more moves for the duo, Smith settled down in Miami in 1993, and, by that time, his marriage to Donald had reportedly "fallen apart."

His social life took a back seat

Before opening up about his sexuality, Shepard Smith admitted during a speech at a University of Mississippi conference (via USA Today) that he worked tirelessly to avoid having a social life, including romantic relationships. "I just cut it off (and said), 'Where do you want me? Next plane?'" he said.

After living in Florida for a brief time, Smith later moved from Los Angeles to New York, although he admitted he didn't often spend nights in his New York apartment for a year and a half because he was so immersed in his career. "So I'm just ... popping up all over the world because we didn't have enough people. And other people needed to get home ... to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband. And I didn't need to do that," he said. He went on to describe that period of his non-existent social life as a way for him to "escape" reality, because he "wasn't answering [his] own questions, or even posing [his] own questions to [himself] about what it is that is different about [him]."

Anchoring is the 'most boring thing on Earth'

With a love for reporting live on assignment — exemplified by his compelling, on-the-ground reporting during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — Smith has witnessed it all, from natural disasters to death and utter destruction. Sitting at a desk allows him to separate his emotions from the news he reports on, and while some may think being within the confines of a TV studio is a much safer and much easier job, Smith doesn't see things that way. "Anchoring can be the most boring thing on Earth," he told The Wrap.

He added, "It's great, and I love the job, I'm certainly not complaining about it but this is not where any reporter wants to be when news is breaking except all of a sudden [because of the Deck's resources] we can really get our hands around something that's bigger than we are."

Why he originally didn't want to leave Fox

Many people saw Shepard as a unicorn on the Trump-loving network. Case in point: he was never afraid to unapologetically fact-check anyone who tried to spread fake news. So how did he manage to debunk his Fox colleagues' reports and the president's remarks without the higher-ups telling him to chill out? Smith told Time in March 2018, "If we start making changes, if ratings go down or viewers scream too much and we make changes to accommodate, we are in extreme dereliction of duty. I cannot do it. I will not do it. I'll quit. I'll stop doing it completely."

Before he signed a multi-year contract with the network in 2018, Smith contemplated walking away, but he knew that the American people needed him. "And I wonder, if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know," he said.

He's not a fan of politicians ... or the Fox News set

If you tuned in to him any given day on the Fox News Deck, you would likely find Shepard Smith dishing out the latest happenings in the political world, dissecting the breaking news, and piecing together all the facts for loyal viewers. But if Smith had it his way, he would have shifted his focus. "I like the news, I like it when it's real and things are happening and we're able to find out from people who were there about things that affect people's lives. Politicians are boring," he told The Wrap.

On any given day, he was in the midst of screens, monitors, the latest technology, and a group of producers watching his every move. And, unsurprisingly, that wasn't how he envisioned his dream career would turn out. "I wanted to run after stories, I never even thought about this," he told the publication. "I was a scrawny, stupid kid from Mississippi. ... It never crossed my mind."

Living his truth

During a speech at the "It Starts With MEek" conference at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media in 2017 (via USA Today), Smith cited his workaholic tendencies as the reason it took him "until seven, or eight, or nine years ago" to start "living [his] truth." But he actually did have some reservations about the potential consequences he associated with coming out of the closet. "A. You're going to hell for it," he said, listing the irrational reasons why he avoided the topic. "B. You'll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family?"

He also considered his job at Fox News — which he described as "the craziest conservative network on Earth" — as another reason why he delayed coming out. Finally, in 2017, the former The Fox Report host decided it was time. "I have a longtime boyfriend and we're as happy as we can be and we live a very normal life," he later told Time magazine. "It's great for us. But I can't imagine anyone else finding it interesting."  

A mystery partner

Though he has never gone in-depth about his love life, rumors swirled in 2013 that Shepard Smith was in a very serious relationship. Gawker reported that Smith had been "courting an attractive young [Fox] production assistant" — a Penn State graduate by the name of Giovanni "Gio" Graziano.

The alleged couple had been spotted at various hot spots around the city, and sources told the publication that Smith and Graziano definitely appeared to be romantically involved. Smith's rumored partner would also be mentioned in a 2014 Gawker report, which alleged that Smith had made a Fox executive uncomfortable after bringing Graziano to a company picnic at the compound of the network's late CEO, Roger Ailes. 

The timeline on Gawker's 2013 article matched up with Time magazine's piece in 2018, which revealed that Smith had a "boyfriend of six years." Is Graziano the lucky fella? Don't expect a confirmation from Smith any time soon.