Earlier this morning, Fox News announced that Alan Colmes (pictured above) will leave the network’s popular Hannity & Colmes debate program at the end of the year. Apparently, after twelve years of ‘sparring’ with conservative counterpart Sean Hannity, Colmes is moving on “to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network.” Whatever that means.
If you’ve ever seen Hannity & Colmes, you know that despite its billing as a “debate talk show,” the program offers neither enlightening discussion nor insightful commentary. Colmes, ostensibly the duo’s liberal half, has been widely criticized for his submissiveness to both Hannity and the show’s overwhelmingly right-wing roster of guests. Al Franken calls the show Hannity and Colmes, and refers to the “liberal on-air punching bag” as Hannity’s “goofy sidekick.” Journalist Bob Garfield once asked Colmes if he was a “human straw man,” and John Stewart calls the show Hannity & Whatever. To get a taste of why this criticism is well deserved, check out this particularly embarassing episode following the Biden-Palin debate (Colmes’s portion begins at around the 2:00 mark):
Clearly, Colmes’s departure will not jeopardize the journalistic integrity or intellectual excellence of Hannity & Colmes and Fox News, largely because neither has any. What it will do, however, is give Hannity even more air-time to spout his conservative rhetoric. It’s true: the New York Times, citing “two people close to the network,” reported that Hannity will likely become the sole host of the show following Colmes’s departure.
In addition to being absolutely terrifying in its own right, the decision to provide Hannity with his own sixty-minute time-slot in prime-time is indicative of a growing trend among right-wing media outlets. With the Democrats firmly in control of both the legislative and executive wings of government, conservative television and radio stations are preparing a renewed assault on their perceived enemies – the ‘anti-Americans’ Palin alluded to on the campaign trail. Indeed, no longer encumbered by the tedious task of defending Bush, right-wing firebrands like Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter are getting ready to spend the next four years mercilessly castigating the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressives of all stripes, and anyone else who happens to take the wrong position on any number of issues.
The initial forays have already begun. Shortly after November 4, Hannity explained that he was afraid that Obama “is the guy that has these radical associations 20 years ago” and that the President-elect will reveal himself to be “hard, hard left.” Rush Limbaugh took it a step further, calling the current economic crisis an “Obama recession:”
“The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen. Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come. This is an Obama recession. Might turn into a depression.”
CNN recently aired a segment on this topic, with further examples of how right-wing commentators are trying to paint Obama as a radical leftist:
And this is just a taste of what’s to come. Truly, if you thought that the past eight years were bad, get ready for a period of intense, vitriolic bile from across the conservative airwaves. It will dwarf even the worst attacks of the Clinton years, and will make the mainstream media’s tepid criticism of Bush (especially leading up to the Iraq War) seem positively benign. Who knows – it may even make us yearn for the days when Hannity and Colmes ‘debated the issues’ and ‘interviewed’ guests.