Petition calling for Fox News anchor to be sacked reaches 250,000 signatures, after presenter brands Robin Williams 'coward'

The petition also demands that Fox News staff be educated about mental health and suicide

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The Independent Online

A petition calling for the dismissal of Fox News presenter Shep Smith, after he branded Robin Williams a “coward”, has been signed by nearly 250,000 since its launch earlier this week.

The document was launched by, a website that aims to “counterbalance the growing power of large corporations”.

The Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting actor took his own life on Monday 11 August, aged 63. He had been suffering from severe depression.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

“Whatever Williams’ reasons are, it is inappropriate for Fox News’ staff to air their insensitive opinions,” said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman,, on the website.

“It is offensive to Williams' loved ones — and the loved ones of the millions of others who've lost their lives to suicide. I know, because my own partner killed himself a year and a half ago — and if someone had called him a coward for what he did, it would have cut me to the quick.”

“Even more importantly, Fox is perpetuating dangerous and completely wrongheaded views of mental illness,” she continued. “Depression is a disease, and belittling its millions of victims could even make them less likely to seek help.”

The petition also demands that Fox News staff be educated about mental health and suicide.

Smith has apologised for his comments, but this is “not enough” according to the petition.

 Video: The death of Robin Williams

The news anchor recalled a quote of the actor talking about his children, before he voiced his own controversial view.

“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,” he 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.”