Dear Shepard Smith,
Like everyone else, I was in disbelief as I watched the news reports announcing Robin Williams’ tragic suicide. Thankfully, I do not watch Fox News because it is too conservative and biased for my taste, but others do watch your news station. On national television as a news anchor, I am under the assumption that your job is to inform the public of current events. Whether or not you put a biased spin on those events, you are still required to present the facts. However, when you announced Robin Williams’ death and called him “a coward,” you were not doing your job.
Shepard Smith, I have never met Robin Williams, and I have never met you. I will not judge your character or personality. Yet when I stumbled across a clip of your Fox News broadcast and heard your vile attack on Robin Williams, a man who is no longer here to defend himself, in those moments, you were ignorant and disrespectful. You were disrespectful not only towards Robin Williams and his memory, but also towards his family, friends, and fans who loved him.
I cannot judge you because I do not know you, but I can make assumptions. While most of the world was shocked, maybe you felt angry. Everyone processes death and loss in different ways, and maybe you process it through anger. However, you had a job to do, Shepard Smith. Your job was to inform your audience of Robin Williams’ death. Your job was to report the facts. Instead, you insulted the memory of a man so loved by the world, attacked him, and shoved your heartless opinions down your viewers’ throats.
While I know nothing about your education or life experiences, from the words you expressed about Robin Williams’ suicide, I can make another assumption that you have a narrow minded, misconstrued outlook on depression and addiction. According to the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression. Depression is common and treatable, but it potentially can end in suicide.
Despite the commonality of depression, a stigma surrounds the disorder, and myths continue to perpetuate our culture, preventing open communication and understanding of those suffering in silence. Mr. Shepard Smith, you have already apologized for your comments, saying that you regret it, but I do not believe your apology to be 100% genuine. Your initial comments prove to America that you need to let go of your anger and join the rest of the world in our hope of ending the stigma of depression and suicide. If news anchors like yourself continue to spout hateful comments about people contemplating suicide or who have died from it, then you are allowing the stigma to perpetuate our culture.
I will continue to never watch Fox News, but I hope that for the sake of your viewers, you keep your opinions to yourself and strive to only report the facts. Everyone mourns death differently, but we must respect the memory of Robin Williams, his friends, family, and work to make the world a warmer place for the millions struggling with depression.