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Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith donating $500,000 to Committee to Protect Journalists

Former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith announced Thursday that he is donating $500,000 to the Committee to Protect Journalists. "A free press is the underpinning of a democracy, and it cannot be taken for granted," Smith told the audience at the nonprofit organization's annual Press Freedom Gala in New York City.

"Journalists continue to be murdered and thrown in prison when they speak out," Smith said. "But governments have learned other less crude techniques to censor and stifle our work. Concentration of media ownership, whether by government or corporate cronies, has narrowed the choice of independent news sources from China to Hungary."

This was Smith's first public event since he left Fox News last month. Smith did not discuss his departure from the news network at the event. In his 3 p.m. show, Smith was often critical of President Trump, but when he left, he said in a statement that he was leaving to "start a new chapter."

On Thursday, Smith alluded to problems with press freedom in the United States, saying "intimidation and vilification of the press is now a global phenomenon — we don't have to look far for that." 

Six journalists were honored, including Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe, who were imprisoned for 500 days of a seven-year sentence in Myanmar before being freed. 

"Without free and fair reporting, there can be no first draft of history, and without a first draft of history, there can be no reconciliation and progress," Wa Lone said. 

The organization raised $2.6 million Thursday night. Several major news organizations, including CBS News, were in attendance. 

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