Did Fox News anchor Shep Smith get the Puerto Rico governor to resign? It sure does seem like it.
Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced his resignation as governor of the United States territory on Wednesday, which was somewhat lost in a morass of media coverage of the Mueller hearings.
Rosselló was under intense pressure after hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded his resignation due to outrage over his handling of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy and allegations of corruption within his administration.
The governor has also been under fire over leaked chat messages showing him using misogynistic remarks about female politicians, homophobic slurs against gay Puerto Ricans like Ricky Martin, and other comments where he mocked the victims of Hurricane Maria.
While Rosselló’s political trouble was a passing story on cable news, it was catapulted onto front pages thanks to a dramatic piece of television: Smith’s exclusive interview with the embattled governor. The video, which had Smith brutally questioning Rosselló for nearly 20 minutes, went viral immediately after it aired.
“The corruption is rampant in Puerto Rico,” Smith told his guest. “Economically Puerto Rico is in a fiscal crisis, $70 billion in debt, and a 13-year recession. In the leaked nearly-900 pages of profanity-laced messages… you made light of the casualties of Hurricane Maria, you casually tossed homophobic and misogynistic remarks, you were calling the Puerto Rican former New York City council speaker… a whore.”
Smith ran down a list of some more ugly comments before asking the searing question: “Who’s left to support you? Is it even safe for you to continue to govern?” Rosselló said he had apologized and was “making amends” for the comments he’s made.
In one line of questioning, Smith asked Rosselló who was publicly supporting him, and the governor pointed to the local mayor of San Sebastián. The mayor denied supporting Rosselló.
The interview made a splash in Puerto Rico. “The mayor of San Sebastián denies Rosselló’s statements in Fox News,” read the headline from daily newspaper El Nuevo Día.
With the video going viral, and soundbites making national headlines, Roselló caved to public demand and stepped down from his post just days after the interview.
Without hyperbole, it is fair to say that Smith offered a tour de force in journalism in the manner that he handled his must-watch interview, which prompted actual change, which is a refreshing example of journalism in an age where “bad optics” wins the news narrative over actual reporting.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.