Hannity Without Colmes

The announcement that Alan Colmes is leaving Fox News Channel‘s Hannity & Colmes show, where he serves as co-host to Sean Hannity, raises the pressing question: Will anyone notice?

Fox News executives have long represented the show as an evenhanded nightly debate. Yet a reviewer in Britain’s Sunday Business Post (8/24/03) perhaps summarized the peculiarity of this Fox-style “debate” best in noting that “the titleâ┚¬Ã‚¦Hannity & Colmes is something of a misnomer, because the other host–the timid, bespectacled liberal Alan Colmes–acts essentially as a sacrificial lamb and may as well not be there.”

Alan Colmes: The 'Liberal to be Determined' on Sean Hannity's show

Alan Colmes: the "Liberal to be Determined" on Sean Hannity's show

Colmes identifies himself (USA Today, 2/1/95) as “quite moderate.” That’s an example of Colmes’ gift for understatement: As Extra! (11-12/03) has documented, he boasted on air of voting for New York’s Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and “seemed to have a special affinity for the conservative senator” Trent Lott. His “tendency to concede points to the right and criticize the left make him the favorite liberal of many conservatives,” including Newt Gingrich, as well as

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch (“you’re great for a liberal”–4/16/01), Republican House Whip Tom DeLay (“you are my favorite liberal”–10/18/99), Christian right leader James Dobson (“he’s my favorite liberal”–4/28/03) and, of course, Sen. Trent Lott (“you may be a liberal but you’re one of the better ones I’ve seen on TV”–4/30/03).

Once appearing as a guest on Fox‘s O’Reilly Factor (4/11/03), Colmes received a figurative pat on the head from the show’s host, Bill O’Reilly, for not criticizing the White House during the Iraq War. O’Reilly praised Colmes for his silence: “I put forth that once the shelling starts–and you did this–you kept quiet, OK.” Colmes dutifully responded: “Well, look, I’ve kept quiet. My choice has been–I have not criticized the administration or this war effort while there are men and women in harm’s way, and I will not, and that is my–that’s a choice I make.”

One might note that the war is now in its sixth year–that’s a long time to keep quiet.

The New York Times reported today (11/24/08) that Hannity

may become the sole host of the program, according to one source close to the network who insisted on anonymity while speaking about private deliberations.

And that will be different how, exactly?