Shep Smith, Photo by Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Longtime Fox News anchor Shep Smith announced on Friday that he is stepping down from his position as Fox News' chief news anchor, managing editor of the network’s breaking news unit and anchor of his weekday news show, Shepard Smith Reporting. Smith has been with the network for 23 years.

Why it matters: His departure comes as a rift grows wider between daytime news anchors and primetime opinion hosts at Fox.

Details: Smith's last broadcast was Friday. The network sent a press release ahead of his final remarks about his departure on his show.

  • “Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged," he said in a statement.
  • In his final broadcast remarks, Smith thanked the network, and said he appreciated the opportunities that afforded him to "travel the country and the world gathering the facts for you."

Fox News personalities seemed shocked by the decision. Neil Cavuto was speechless after Smith's final remarks. "I don't know what to say ... A better newsman you cannot find." John Roberts said he felt like he got hit by a subway train.

Be smart: The news comes just days after Attorney General William Barr met privately with Fox Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch, per The New York Times. Details about the context of the meeting were not reported.

Yes, but: CNN reports that Smith asked Fox leadership to get out of his contract in September, thus disproving any assertion that the meeting between Barr and Murdoch had anything to do with his departure.

The big picture: The President has become frustrated with Fox News' coverage in recent months, and has many times tweeted critically about Shep Smith and other Fox News personalities.

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