Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has denied there was pressure to keep him in the closet, as he quietly confirmed his sexuality.

The journalist joined the Fox News Channel at its inception in 1996, and remains with the conservative news network two decades later.

Smith, who was previously married to a woman, has avoided commenting on his sexuality for years, though he has previously featured in Out Magazine’s Power List and attended a National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association gala.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the anchor quietly confirmed his sexuality, while denying allegations that he was booted out of his prime-time slot by former Fox News president Roger Ailes because he wanted to come out publicly.

Asked if Ailes had ever been homophobic, he said: “No, never. He treated me with respect, just respect.

“I wasn’t new in the business when I came here ― I’d been doing reporting for 12 years ― but I wasn’t old in it either, and he gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”

He added of reports that he was kepy in the closet: “That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father.”

Referring to the sexual assault allegations against Ailes that led to his resignation, he said: “I trusted him with my career… I trusted him and trusts were betrayed.

“People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.

“This was a real shock to the system, and it upended a lot of things that we thought we knew.”

Earlier this year, it was alleged that Ailes frequently used used racist and homophobic slurs.

CNN recalled of a meeting with Politico CEO Fred Ryan: “Ailes told Ryan what he wanted: He wanted fair coverage from Politico; he wanted the website to take stock of Fox News’ successes, not just its controversies; and he wanted Politico to stop taking talking points from ‘that faggot David Brock’.”

Brock himself noted previously that Ailes had warned President George H. W. Bush not to wear a short-sleeve shirt because he’d “look like a f**king faggot.”

A representative for Ailes described the claims as “worn out and inaccurate gossip items”.