Shepard Smith, the Fox News anchorman who drives the Fox News faithful crazy

The hubbub around Smith, who also is Fox’s managing editor of breaking news, has drawn silence from Fox. After initially being open to Smith speaking for a Washington Post article, the network declined to offer him for comment. Smith himself did not reply to interview requests sent to his work and personal email accounts.

Two people at rival networks say Smith is a short-timer at Fox and thus is feeling free to speak his mind on air. But that may be more rumor than fact; Smith has been at Fox since the network began in 1996 and has stayed on through multiple management changes, most notably the ouster last summer of co-founder Roger Ailes, whom Smith said he loved “like a father.”

The counter-theory is that Fox has purposely loosened its leash on Smith to carve out a modicum of independence from Trump.

“If I’m Fox News, I would view [Smith’s commentary] as a good thing right now,” said Dan Cassino, a political-science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “It builds the credibility of a news organization,” a goal of Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who now run Fox’s parent company.