By: Tom JunodShep Smith leads the happy warriors of Fox News into a new political age. Shepard Smith has
a face made for television, a face seemingly created not just for the cameras but by them, a brand-name face that could be made into a mask and worn on Halloween. It's extreme, without being irregular; indeed, its extremity lies in its action-figure regularity, its plane-sawed proportions. Well, that and his eyes. His eyes are points of interest, both on television and in person. They look done, if you want to know the truth. He is the proverbial journalist who goes through life with a raised eyebrow, not out of temperament but rather because he can't get the damned thing down. His right eyebrow is steeply and permanently peaked, like a tattoo of skeptical interest. And his eyes themselves... well, you meet him and you don't even register what color they are. You register their shine. No matter what the light, he is the one guy in the room whose eyes always catch it and return it with a mineral gleam.
And yet his face is not nearly as recognizable as his voice. It's not simply that he has great pipes, mellowed by the cigarettes he smokes outside the building before and after most of his newscasts. It's that... well, listen to him as he tapes, in advance, the lead-in to his 3:00 P.M. show, Studio B. He's in someplace called the tracking room, which is closet-sized, with the acoustics of the inside of a drum. There's a script waiting for him by the microphone, and as soon as he sits down, he begins to read it. But he doesn't read the way most people read. He reads the way opera singers sing, in a voice whose sudden contrivance is matched only by its sudden force. He reads loud, in a great baritone honk. He reads insinuatingly. He reads with rhythm, he reads with speed, he reads with irony and skepticism and vehemence and maybe a little menace: "It's being called a political crime spree. The governor of Illinois arrested on federal corruption charges... " Yes, it's Day One for Blago. The Rod Blagojevich story has just broken, and all over the airwaves, professional newsreaders are reading the sordid details with a certain degree of relish. But Shep Smith is the only one who sounds like this, the only one whose voice is instantly recognizable, maybe not as the voice of a man but as the voice of an institution. Inside the institution, by his own insistence, his voice is the voice of "straight news." Outside the institution, however, his voice is the voice of Fox News, and that's something else entirely.( Collapse )RELATED STORIES:Source: Esquire