FOX News' Shepard Smith: Roger Ailes treated my boyfriend 'like family' from the day they met

FOX News journalist Shepard Smith gave a lengthy, emotional tribute to former network president Roger Ailes on Thursday, describing a "media genius" with "now well-documented flaws" who became like a father figure throughout Smith's blossoming career.

In a surprisingly personal anecdote, Smith detailed the first time he introduced Ailes and his wife, Elizabeth, to his longtime boyfriend, Gio Graziano. "We had not attended a work function, the two of us together, before," he said. "Beth took my Gio by his arm and gave him a tour of the estate. They'd never met. It was personal, just the two of them."

The meaningful occasion took place at a 2016 Fourth of July party at Ailes' home, just days before former FOX News commentator Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes and the network.

"She and Roger treated Gio and me like family," Smith said. "It was a signal to our Fox team and to everyone else that our relationship is a good thing. Respect it. Roger had, and he did."

Hollywood reacts to Roger Ailes' death at 77
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Hollywood reacts to Roger Ailes' death at 77
OMG #RogerAiles is gone, devastating news, & Erica & I send our condolences to Beth, their son Zack & the entire family. He was a great man
RIP #RogerAiles one of the most impt broadcasters in history-The genius who created #FoxNews -a good friend, who loved his family & country
Today America lost one of its great patriotic warriors. Roger Ailes. For Decades RA's has impacted American politics and media.
Deeply saddened by death of Roger Ailes. He had many critics and like ALL of us his sins, but I remember a great patriot, friend and boss.
Terribly sad news. R.I.P.
Love and prayers to Beth and Zach. R.I.P Roger - you changed television as we know it.
Spent magical day with Ailes in Palm Beach last month. He loved life, country, Beth. News! We sat for 9 hours. He w…
RIP #RogerAiles sending my love and prayers to Beth & Zachary. Roger was a friend and a mentor to so many of us @FoxNews he will be missed
RIP Roger Ailes a good friend, great American and communications genius @StoneColdTruth
I've known Roger Ailes for over 30 years. We've fought, debated and exchanged war stories. He had real passion and a master strategist for
what he believed. We didn't agree on much and I protested him many times. However his impact on US Culture is undeniable. He is a study !
RIP Roger Ailes, who 20 yrs ago gave me a chance to thrive @ the fledgling Fox News Channel. Thoughts & prayers for Elizabeth & Zachary.
"RIP Roger Ailes. The man may be gone but the sewer of misogyny, bigotry & lies that he midwifed still poisons the world." - Fox Newsđź’«
RIP Roger Ailes. Thank you for all of the opportunities you provided me. I hope that you are now in your happy place.
Rest In Peace #RogerAiles
I knew Ailes. Competed against him in campaigns. Railed against him many times. But appreciated our frank, backchannel conversations.
Condolences and prayers to family and friends of #RogerAiles.
Roger Ailes died this morning, our deepest sympathies to Beth and his son Zach. Roger was a media genius, good friend and great American.
Roger Ailes RIP
Roger Ailes founded one of the most important and successful media outlets in American history. I will miss his friendship dearly. RIP.

Turning then to the bombshell revelations by Carlson and other female FOX employees, Smith continued, "Then last year ... we began to learn of another side of Roger Ailes, another part of his life." Their last-ever conversation took place not long after the news spilled out, and it ended with "I love you."

Ailes resigned as chairman and CEO of FOX News in July 26 following the allegations of sexual harassment. He died May 18, days after suffering a fall and hitting his head.

At several points during the 12-minute speech, Smith got choked up, at times pausing to use a tissue. Watch the emotional monologue here.

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