MSNBC is talking with former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith about joining the network, according to a report in The Daily Beast, as speculation abounds that the channel will shuffle its lineup as the 2020 election nears.
Smith is being courted by MSNBC president Phil Griffin. Other networks also have been interested in him, including CNN’s Jeff Zucker, who said at a conference in October, “When he’s available, he is somebody who is very talented, and I would be very open to talking to him.”
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MSNBC also is considering moving Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd, which currently airs at 5 pm ET, to the morning hours, according to The Daily Beast. Fox News’ The Five tops that timeslot among the cable news networks. By contrast, MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, hosted by Nicolle Wallace, topped total viewers in the 4 p.m. ET timeslot leading in to MTP Daily.
Smith abruptly left Fox News in October, telling viewers: “Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged. Under our agreement I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future.”
A spokesman for MSNBC had no comment. Smith’s representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
When he signed off from Fox News, Smith did not specify when he would be freed from contractual restrictions, telling the audience, “We will see what comes along.” At Fox News, where he anchored the 3 p.m. ET hour, Smith was a contrast to the Trump boosterism of some of the channel’s primetime opinion hosts, and some of the tensions spilled out in the open. Smith occasionally was critical of Trump and even became one of the president’s Twitter targets. But his spokesman said at the time that his decision to leave was “Shep’s decision and his alone.”
MSNBC already has been tinkering with its daytime lineup. Last month it announced that Ali Velshi will be moved to a new weekend slot, while Stephanie Ruhle, his co-host in the 1 p.m. ET slot, continues to host at 9 a.m. ET. while also serving as senior business correspondent at NBC News.
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