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National TV anchor is accused of battery

Police say a Fox News Channel anchor hit a reporter with his car as she saved a parking space.

By SHELBY OPPEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- On its 11th day, the presidential cliffhanger injured more than Florida's pride.

Capitol Police on Friday arrested Fox News Channel anchor Shepard Smith, one of hundreds of journalists in town to cover the election drama, after police said Smith struck another reporter with his car during an argument over a parking space.

The reporter, Maureen Walsh of Tallahassee, is a freelance journalist who works for Bay News 9, a cable news channel based in Pinellas Park.

By day's end, Walsh was released from Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with bruises on her knees and legs, police said. Smith, 36, was charged with aggravated battery with a motor vehicle, a felony, and was released on $10,000 bail from the Leon County Jail.

Police gave this account:

About 2 p.m., Walsh was standing on Monroe Street across from the Capitol, in a rare empty space in a parking lot crowded with television satellite trucks. She told police she was saving the space for co-workers. Smith drove up in a white Mazda Millenia and yelled at her to move.

"He shouted some profanities at her and basically just struck her, striking her at the knees, which threw her up on the car," said Sgt. Edwin Maxwell.

Walsh told police that Smith got out of his car, shut the door and walked past her, across Monroe Street to the Capitol, where he and a dozen other television reporters had set up makeshift studios for their live broadcasts. Smith hosts a report that begins at 2:30 p.m.

About an hour later, police found Smith under the white tent with the word "Fox" marked in black masking tape. Other reporters clamored around, asking the officers if someone's camera had been stolen, Maxwell said.

Officer Tony Chambers asked "Who's Shepard Smith?" and Smith promptly answered "I am," Chambers said.

Smith made no statement to police. A spokesman for Fox News Channel, a 4-year-old cable channel that competes with CNN, confirmed the arrest but declined to comment further. Walsh could not be reached.

Smith, whose full name is David Shepard Smith, began his career at WJHG-TV, an NBC affiliate in Panama City, according to a biography on the Fox News Channel Web site, foxnews.com.

Besides his daily broadcast, Smith hosts The Fox Report with Shepard Smith, from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Web site biography said Smith is a senior correspondent who once worked as a reporter for A Current Affair.

The Fox News Channel tent was quiet Friday afternoon at the Capitol. That night's show was to be anchored from New York City.

- Times researchers John Martin and Stephanie Scruggs contributed to this report.

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