Fox News' Shepard Smith is getting criticism after he speculated on air that Robin Williams may have been a coward following his death.
Smith made the comment during coverage of the Academy Award-winning actor-comedian's death. He was speaking about how Williams' death — after authorities said he hung himself — might impact his three adult children.
“It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, watch them grow, they’re in their mid-20s, and they’re inspiring you, and exciting you, and they fill you up with the kind of joy you could never have known," Smith said.
“And yet, something inside you is so horrible or you’re such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide that you have to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”
Critics took to social media on Facebook and Twitter after Smith said Williams' children were giving him so much joy, "and yet something inside you is so horrible or you're such a coward or whatever the reason that you decide you have to end it."
I think @ShepNewsTeam calling Robin Williams a coward is deplorable and it lacks not only compassion, but basic comprehension of depression— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) August 12, 2014
. @ShepNewsTeam you should be ashamed of yourself for the statement you made about Robin Williams. People like you are the cowards.— Ryan Gregg (@RyanEGregg) August 12, 2014
Using the word 'coward' while discussing a man who committed suicide, is inappropriate , insensitive and absolutely disgusting .— kate o shaughnessy (@katieshox) August 12, 2014
I'm sorry but I have lost all respect for you @ShepNewsTeam someone that is suicidal is NOT a coward! How dare you say something so stupid!— båšhwęłł ⊬ (@dbashwell) August 12, 2014
Fox News had no immediate comment. Shepard is due on air later today but did release an apology soon after he made the comments.
“I would never presume to know anything about his private life. And if any of his family members and friends were to have seen me use the word ‘coward,’ I would be horrified,” Smith told Mediaite.
“I would just like to apologise to the end of the earth to anyone who might think that I meant to openly call him a ‘coward'.
“To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I’m so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry.”
*Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.