O'Reilly and Hannity and just about everyone else on Fox News receive most of the ire from the Left. To his credit, Hannity admits he's a conservative so he's certainly not trying to kid anyone about who he is. O'Reilly would never admit to being far-right. And he thinks he's not kidding anyone.
But if truth be known, hounding either one of those boys is way too-fish-in-a-barrel easy. The more complex hit is the one that the Left puts out on the liberal at Fox...Alan Colmes.
And boy does he get it. It's expected from your typical Fox viewer, but no liberal gets treated like a punching bag by liberals as much as Colmes. Bloggers, liberal radio hosts, even Jon Stewart have taken their shots. One of the nicer comments comes from the Daily Kos Dkosopedia site: "Worse than a milquetoast, Colmes serves as the liberal Stepin Fetchit for Fox."
But is it fair?
Those who haven't paid attention might ask how you smack a guy who five days a week is in a position to interject a point of view into the debate that's not seriously Right? Well, for one thing they believe he's more of a LINO (Liberal In Name Only).
Colmes sees it differently.
"Issue by issue, if I were a Congressman, I would receive the highest rating from liberal think-tank Americans For Democratic Action." said Colmes when I caught up to him on the day his syndicated Fox News Radio show "replaced" Al Franken's on Armed Forces Radio. And he offers a radio/TV track record to prove it. Even MediaMatters, which is certainly no milquetoast cheerleader for the right, highlighted Colmes for his drilling the chairman of the Swift Boat Vets. But compliments from the Left are nearly undetectable.
Taylor Marsh titled her Huffington Post column, "Alan Colmes Is A Punk," and it went down hill from there.
For the most part, his critics ridicule Colmes because they feel that he's a weak counter-balance to Hannity. But, c'mon, whether you agree with his position or methods of getting them across, the Seanster is not only great at what he does, he's adorable. On the other hand, they say Colmes is too soft; takes too many prisoners. I mean, really, how can he be a real liberal when Bernie Goldberg didn't even make him one of the 100 people who are ruining America.
If you listen closely to Hannity & Colmes, you can almost hear the frustrated Huffington Post'rs yelling at the TV pleading with Colmes to interrupt the guests more often when the answers aren't toeing the credibility line. Some would rather that he stand up and scream "I'm- mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-any-more." Others wouldn't be satisfied with anything less than smashing his chair over Sean's head.... liberally.
But one wonders whether if the trashing comes not from any liberal inadequacy as much as from his critics' own expectations; that Colmes is Colmes; that he is not Hannity. You just know people want him to Hannity the guest. They'd like him to be more demonstrative. Ask more loaded questions. Corner his prey. Pounce on him. Cut the lying liar of a guest into tiny little pieces leaving him to rot in the sun while the vultures pick at what's left (or right) of his vapid argument.
Even more so, they want him to Hannity Hannity.
But he's not Hannity.
"Sean and I have different styles," said Colmes. "I believe it's better to put out fires with water, not with more fire."
Still, some liberals say that just broadcasting from enemy's camp gets Colmes short-shrift.
But Colmes says that Fox doesn't tell him what he can or can't say. A stop watch times them so Hannity doesn't get any more time than Colmes. H&C's producer (John Finley) selects the guests. "It's no secret that ratings are the goal," said Colmes. "The audience likes who we bring on."
While disappointed by the reaction of his liberal critics, Colmes certainly doesn't come off as a whiner. He fully believes he's bringing a liberal voice to Fox in a style that reaches many with a conservative mind-set that would otherwise never hear it.
"Some liberals have a problem with me simply because I work at Fox and nothing I do short of storming off the set in a rage will get them to respect that I work there. I feel quite lucky to have the platforms I have on both television and radio. Even if everything its detractors say about Fox were true, the most liberal of liberal attitudes would be that one would get credit for being in the lion's den." After all I do have the biggest audience of all the liberals."
A long time radio veteran, Colmes seems to be the only one at Fox who believes liberal talk does work. Colmes commends liberal talkers like Jones Radio's Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz for their success and doesn't feel that Air America's problems are a harbinger of failure for liberal talk radio. He feels that Air America's rocky road came from a faulty business model and not bringing on more people with radio chops like Randi Rhodes. Colmes who was already under contract to Fox when Air America took off once joked at a Talkers Magazine Seminar, "Air America Radio was thinking of hiring me, but they discovered something in my past that didn't sit well with them: radio experience."
But no matter how much those on the left want him to be something different, Colmes is quite comfortable being who he is.
"I'm not an angry person" says Colmes. "I get my point out, I'm true to what I believe and I sleep well at night."
Probably better than his critics.
Steve Young is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and his column appears in the LA Daily News Sunday Opinion page...to the left of O'Reilly's...really. And if you want to overdose on Steve, click here for :Steve"s Latest Blatant Infomercial.