Shelby Talcott on November 21, 2019

Former Fox News host Shepard Smith criticized the “intimidation and vilification of the press” Thursday in his first public remarks since leaving the network in October.

Smith abruptly left Fox News in early October, noting in his final speech that he hopes “facts will win the day.” The former host was one of Fox’s first hires when the network launched in 1996 and anchored some of the biggest events in American history throughout his time there. Thursday evening marked his first official statements since his departure from Fox on Oct. 11.

Intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon,” Smith told Press Freedom, according to New York Times journalist Michael Grynbaum. “We don’t have to look far for evidence of that.”

The former Fox News host went further than offering up words of wisdom and donated $500,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists, The NYT reported.

He made this announcement and his remarks at the annual Committee to Protect Journalists dinner, which he had agreed to attend before leaving Fox News, according to The NYT.

The dinner raised funds for the nonprofit group and recognized journalists who reported through government oppression and hard times in places such as Brazil, India, Nicaragua and Tanzania.

“Our belief a decade ago that the online revolution would liberate us now seems a bit premature, doesn’t it?” Smith added. “Autocrats have learned how to use those same online tools to shore up their power. They flood the world of information with garbage and lies, masquerading as news. There’s a phrase for that.”

“We know that journalists are sometimes wary of being perceived as activists for some cause. But press freedom is not the preserve of one political group or one political party. It’s a value embedded in our very foundational documents. Journalists need to join hands to defend it.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists began in 1981 and aims to help press freedoms internationally.

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