NEW YORK — A closeted Fox News host on Aug. 11 suggested Robin Williams was a “coward” for taking his own life.
“Something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide you have to end it,” Shepard Smith said on the air shortly after news of Williams’ death broke and reports he had been suffering from depression began to emerge. “Robin Williams at 63 did that today.”
Smith later expressed regret.
“I have no way of knowing the depths of Mr. Williams’ suffering, but I never meant to suggest that he acted in any such manner,” he said in a statement as the Associated Press reported on Aug. 12. “He was a one-of-a-kind American treasure and I regret using any word during the hour-long special, reflecting on his extraordinary career, that would appear I disparaged him in any way.”
Smith has faced persistent questions about his homosexuality over the years.
The Fox News anchor refused to answer the Washington Blade’s questions about his sexual orientation during a fundraiser for the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in March. Blade editor Kevin Naff outed Smith in 2005.
“Shepard Smith has been cowering in Fox’s closet for years,” Naff said this week. “He gives new meaning to the word ‘coward.’”
GLAAD and Media Matters for America are among the groups and advocates that have criticized the network for its coverage of LGBT issues.