Fox News hosts and executives have, on several occasions, defended themselves against charges that Fox News leans conservative by pointing to the purported conservative/liberal balance that Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes represent. However, Fox News will reportedly debut a new show next year starring Hannity in the time slot in which the channel currently airs Hannity & Colmes. Fox News already provides Hannity with his own weekend show, on which he has offered up a slew of misinformation, smears, and a guest with a long history of anti-Semitic and racially charged comments.
On January 12, 2009, Fox News will reportedly debut a new weeknight show, Hannity, starring Sean Hannity in the time slot in which the channel currently airs Hannity & Colmes. A November 24 Fox News press release stated that “Alan Colmes will relinquish his role as co-host of Hannity & Colmes at the end of the year,” and according to a December 11 Hollywood Reporter article, “After weeks trying to find a suitable replacement for the departing Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity will go it alone.” The cable network has previously defended itself against charges that it leans conservative by pointing to the conservative/liberal balance Hannity and co-host Alan Colmes purportedly represent. Additionally, Hannity's current solo Fox News program, Hannity's America -- which usually airs on Sunday nights -- has offered up a slew of misinformation, smears against progressives and Democrats, and even a guest with a history of anti-Semitic and racially charged comments.
When Fox News announced its plans to air Hannity's America without Colmes as a co-host, Media Matters for America noted that Hannity and Colmes and Fox News host Bill O'Reilly have cited Colmes' presence on Hannity & Colmes to claim Fox News offers a diversity of views. Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and CEO of Fox News parent News Corp., and Fox News Chairman and chief executive Roger Ailes have done the same.
During a May 8, 2003, hearing before the House Committee on the Judiciary on News Corp.'s acquisition of a controlling interest in DirectTV, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked Murdoch:
I certainly see why it is in the private interests of News Corp. to pursue its proposed transaction with DirecTV, but why should we be supportive of a transaction that could reduce diversity of opinion and result in fewer voices in news programming? How do you explain the absence of liberal voices on Fox News Channel? Do you contend that you're just responding to public taste? Or is Fox News Channel simply reflecting your own personal views? Or is there some other explanation that I don't understand?
During his response, Murdoch stated that “there is diversity of opinion on Fox News,” adding: “You may disagree with that. We have many liberals there, many liberals are invited. We have liberal commentators, as we have conservative ones.” Waters then asked: “Who are your liberal commentators?” Murdoch responded, “Alan Colmes, for one. Greta van Susteren. You know, it's in the eye of the beholder, I guess.”
In a June 24, 2001, New York Times Magazine article, Marshall Sella wrote of Ailes: “His goal at Fox is to deregulate facts, not unlike the way Republicans prefer to govern.” Sella continued:
'' 'I was the one, at CNBC, who put Geraldo and Chris Matthews and Charles Grodin on the air,' he says. 'No problems there. But now I get attacked for putting Sean Hannity on because he's a conservative -- even when Alan Colmes, the liberal, is there to balance him!' "
From the Hollywood Reporter article:
After weeks trying to find a suitable replacement for the departing Alan Colmes, Sean Hannity will go it alone.
Hannity on January 12 will debut “Hannity,” a retooled version of the second highest-rated program in cable news (after Fox News Channel's own “The O'Reilly Factor”). It will be the first time since signing on in 1996 that Fox News Channel has changed its 9 p.m. program in any way, the network said.
Fox News said that a program centered around Hannity was better than trying to find a replacement for Colmes.
“In the end, we couldn't replace Alan and the chemistry those two had, the friendship they had,” said Bill Shine, senior vp programing at Fox News Channel. At the same time, Fox News wanted to showcase Hannity.
But it's not going to just be Hannity. Shine said that the idea is to have, along with Hannity, something called “the Great American Panel,” including one conservative, one liberal and someone else the show calls “an X factor.” That panel will talk about issues in several segments per night. The “X factor” could include a comedian, a former politician or even someone like “Joe the Plumber.”
“It's a work in progress,” Shine said.