Media mogul Shane Smith is often heralded for revealing unvarnished truths about the world, but the man behind the VICE empire often lies about himself and his company, sources close to Smith tell The Daily Caller.
As head of VICE, a magazine and media company he says is worth a billion dollars with hundreds of employees, Smith has become the subject of fawning profiles and interviews in the New Yorker, The Financial Times, Playboy, the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, and on Charlie Rose.
He’s even snagged his own television show on HBO, becoming the face of the network’s first foray into journalism. But a single show is not enough for Smith. “I want to build the next CNN with Vice—it’s within my grasp,” Smith told the Guardian in May.
“Who’s heard of Vice Media? Wild, interesting effort to interest millennials who don’t read or watch established media. Global success,” tweeted Rupert Murdoch after a meeting with Smith.
Murdoch’s not the only media executive to meet with Smith — representatives from Hearst, Time Warner, Bertelsmann, Condé Nast, and even Google and YouTube have all met with him. Many have partnered with Smith.
But Smith already has a well-documented reputation for stretching the truth.
“The lie that launched an empire,” reads a section title in Smith’s Globe and Mail profile, referring to his penchant for overstating VICE’s value.
“Vice was built on lies,” Wired Magazine echoed in 2007.
And sources close to Smith, including former employees and friends, tell The Daily Caller that his career has long been paved with pure untruths.
In May 2007, Smith told Patrick Sisson in a Playboy interview that he was a wartime reporter for Reuters in Bosnia.
“You wrote for Reuters in Bosnia in the 1990s,” Sisson began in the Playboy interview. “Did that experience affect how you viewed the world and the way you look at Vice?”
“Definitely,” Smith replied. “I went down to Serbia and Croatia during the war. I covered the ethnic cleansing and did a big thing on [former Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz] Tito,” he said.
The Financial Times also credited Smith with doing some work for the Budapest Sun, in addition to Reuters.
“[Smith] moved to Hungary, freelancing for the Budapest Sun and Reuters, and carved a lucrative, yet precarious, sideline as a currency hedger,” wrote Matthew Garrahan in December 2012.
But representatives for both the Budapest Sun and Reuters told TheDC that neither company has a record of Smith ever working for them, let alone a massive story on Tito under his byline, which he would have had to write in his early twenties.
Additionally, a records search of Google, Lexis Nexis and Factiva provided no documented journalism from Smith until well past 2004.
Alex Detrick, VICE’s communications director, repeatedly confirmed that Smith had worked at Reuters and the Budapest Sun in a series of text messages, emails, and a phone call with TheDC. Detrick did not reply when asked directly why it was that Reuters and the Budapest Sun have no record of Smith’s relationship with either organization.