Alan Colmes is leaving “Hannity & Colmes.” The first reaction to this announcement, of course, would be: Why? The second would be: When? The third obvious question would be: What will become of the left-leaning Alan Colmes?
Alan Colmes has been the voice of reason (some say the only voice of reason) on the Fox News news commentary program “Hannity & Colmes” for the past 12 years. Sean Hannity, the ultra-conservative front half of the duo, will continue with the show, which may or may not replace the departing Colmes. It is unclear if the show will take on the name of Hannity’s popular talk radio show, “Hannity’s America,” but it has been suggested that the format of the television program will likely follow that of the radio show.
In a statement on Alan.com, Alan Colmes relates that earlier this year he approached Bill Shine, the network’s senior vice president of programming, and told him he would like to “develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network.” The New York Times reports that Colmes is being kept on as a commentator and will develop a program to possibly take over a weekend slot.
He will leave the longest running prime time news program on Fox Network at the end of the year.
Colmes said, “Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years.”
It seems amazing that Alan Colmes can talk about his on-air partnership with Sean Hannity with such good humor, but, then, Colmes has always been the more controlled of the two. The jingoistic Hannity, although an extremely popular talk radio host, is known for his truculent and abrasive confrontational style. The mild-mannered Colmes has saved many interviews from ideological stalemate and tit-for-tat reactionary altercation over the years. In a now famous confrontation between Sean Hannity and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright (President-Elect Obama’s former pastor), the interview devolved into an unproductive back-and-forth until Alan Colmes interceded and elicited a series of answers from Wright.
Sean Hannity said of Colmes’ departure: “Not only has Alan been a remarkable co-host, he’s been a great friend which is rare in this industry – I’ll genuinely miss sparring with such a skillful debate partner.”
Hannity was instrumental in Colmes being chosen for the position. When Fox signed him for the show, they began auditioning for a liberal to sit opposite the conservative Hannity. Hannity recalled having debated Alan Colmes several times before and suggested Fox give him a try.
Colmes jokes that his first six weeks were on a fifteen-minute trial basis. “My option came up every commercial break”
Colmes also hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, “The Alan Colmes Show,” on Fox News Radio.
“Hannity & Colmes” is the second highest rated show on cable television news (behind “The O’Reilly Factor”) and has been rated number one in its time slot since 2003.
All the politically correct professionalism aside, Alan Colmes may have opted out of “Hannity & Colmes” due to Hannity’s increased targeting of certain liberals. After 11 years of Hannity’s liberal-bashing, Colmes may have simply had enough. And Hannity was particularly disparaging and tenacious this year, especially with his constant maligning of then Senator Barack Obama.
Often criticized as collaborating with Hannity to set up certain guests and not being aggressive enough with conservatives, Colmes might just have wished it to end.
Unlike Alan Colmes, Americans were not contractually obligated to listen to Sean Hannity’s brand of narrow-minded neo-conservatism. A quick touch of the remote and his pugnacious visciousness would disappear. And now, with Alan Colmes soon to leave “Hannity & Colmes”, many more will not care to watch an hour of “Hannity’s America.”