Shepard Smith honored with Leonard Zeidenberg Award for protecting First Amendment freedoms

Fox News' Shepard Smith was honored on Wednesday night at the Radio Television Digital News Foundation's 29th annual First Amendment Awards dinner in Washington, D.C., where he received the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award.

Smith, the chief news anchor and managing editor for the network's breaking news division, said he was "humbled and thankful" to receive the award, which previously was given to broadcasting legends David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite.

"This award I share with my team here [in Washington] and back in New York, who produced and edited and copy-edited and checked again, as we do every single day, our newscast," Smith, the anchor of "Shepard Smith Reporting," said. " ... They really are the backbone of what we do because they work so hard to get everything exactly right."

Smith, who joined Fox News Channel at its inception in 1996, was introduced by "Shepard Smith Reporting" Executive Producer Jonathan Glenn, who described the anchor as "so good at his job, frustratingly so, to be honest."

"I was a pretty good writer, he was a better writer, a better producer, he knew lighting and how to white-balance and set levels, and I have not met another person on this planet who is more attuned to a misplaced modifier," said Glenn, who added: "When news is breaking or tragedy is unfolding, there's nobody that I trust more to take us through it."

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Glenn's remarks were followed by a video montage that showed some of the highlights of Smith's two-decade career at Fox News, which included his coverage of the massacre at Columbine High School, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Paris terror attacks and the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

"God, that's a long time ago," Smith said after the video. "I was so very young, and had all that hair!"

According to the RTDNF, the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award is presented annually to a radio or television journalist or news executive who "has made a major contribution to the protection of First Amendment freedoms." Leonard Zeidenberg was a senior correspondent for Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

In his remarks, Smith reminded his audience of what he described as journalism's "intrinsic duty and responsibility to others, to the people who trust us."

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"We must never manipulate or invent," he said. "We must never knowingly deceive because to do so is a disservice to our audience and potentially injurious to our society."

"The First Amendment that this award honors gives us the protection to do what’s right," Smith concluded. "To do what’s right no matter what. To the Founding Fathers, we’re grateful and mindful of our responsibility, of our purpose and of our duty."