Smith's frustration over the commentary led to a request to be released from his contract in October. He was said to be especially dismayed over remarks by prime time host Tucker Carlson, who said, "White supremacy is not a real problem in America."
Smith is the first major talent hire at CNBC in recent memory, as the channel has long depended on developing its own personalities.
People familiar with the negotiations said he was first approached last year after he departed Fox News. He had a noncompete clause that kept him from starting a new network until this month.
There have been conversations within the NBCUniversal News Group about programming CNBC live topical talk shows on CNBC in the evening that would be an alternative to the progressive views on MSNBC and the right-leaning hosts on Fox News.
But a statement from CNBC Chairman Mark Hoffman indicated that Smith's program is aimed at bringing a larger audience to the network's current primetime lineup of "Shark Tank" repeats and other reality programs.
"Shep's newscast will tap into his extensive experience and deep passion for breaking news, in-depth storytelling and incisive interviews and serve as the perfect bridge between CNBC's daytime investor-focused news programming and the network's aspirational business-oriented entertainment programs in primetime," Hoffman said in a statement.
Smith likely did not come cheap. He was earning $15 million a year in his last deal at Fox News. His compensation at CNBC was not disclosed.
A native of Holly Springs, Mississippi, Smith was a local TV news reporter in Florida, a correspondent on the syndicated program "A Current Affair." He was also a reporter for Fox's news service for its affiliates before joining Fox News in 1996.
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