3/3/09 1:21 PM

MSNBC Comes to Fox?

Well not quite. But there are clear parallels between the format of Hannity and those primetime offerings down the dial.

With six showings of Hannity into the record books, it's clear that the original debate concept of Hannity & Colmes has been abandoned. Now Sean interviews like-minded folk who won't challenge his points: Jonah Goldberg, Pat Buchanan, Fred Thompson, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, etc. Oh there was an interview with Don Imus (neither conservative nor a Republican) but it was a celebrity-style chat, barely touching on any political issues. This is all straight out of the playbook of Keith Olbermann. Or for that matter Rachel Maddow who, aside from an infrequent appearance of Buchanan, also proffers a parade of ideological soulmates.

Hannity has a segment imaginatively called "Hannity's America", an opinionated run-down of news stories that's not much different from Maddow's "holy mackerel" shtick. His "special reports" echo similar Olbermann set-pieces. And Hannity has even adopted the mid-break teases that have been a part of Countdown for years.

Saving Hannity from being another cable news hour with the ideological diversity of Radio North Korea: The Great American Panel. The segment got off to a messy start, but has become more orderly. The makeup (liberal, conservative, X-factor) insures some opposing viewpoints will be heard every night, more so if Hannity can resist the temptation to sneak friendly voices into the X slot (like choosing what must be the only Hollywood actress/SNL alum who was a devoted Reaganette). Bob Beckel's turn in the liberal role was strongest--on one topic (bailouts) all three members of his panel disagreed with the show's host. You'll never see that on MSNBC primetime.

Still, despite the panel, if you are looking for even-handed discourse, Hannity is a shell of its former self. There are ways to improve the situation--the most straightforward would be to book some liberals and Democrats for interviews (if they are willing to endure Sean's lengthy, list-infested questioning).

But there are those who believe cable news deserves to have at least one nightly left/right debate program. One wonders if it would be so difficult after all to find a co-host who could spark some chemistry with Sean Hannity. Maybe someone with Hannity's Irish gift for blarney. Years ago, Roger Ailes gave a break to a little-known politico, permitting him to host a news-talk program on the "America's Talking" channel. He did well enough that Ailes brought him over to CNBC and gave him a high-visibility hour: Politics, with Chris Matthews, later redubbed Hardball. Matthews's MSNBC contract is about to expire, and while negotiations are ongoing, there has yet to be an announcement.

What if Mr Ailes were to call on his old friend once again, and offer him greater visibility, freedom from having to masquerade (unsuccessfully) as a nonpartisan analyst, and an audience larger than he has ever earned on his own? We have no reason to believe any such thing could happen, and good reason to believe it won't. But Sean Hannity & Chris Matthews? That would be one hell of a debate show.

Hannity & Matthews....
Who would get top billing? Or would the program's name get an overhaul?
Possible titles:
1. Fricas & Fracas (Two Roman Senators in their togas)
2. Drivel & Drool
3. Political Ping Pong with "Crush" Matthews & "Kahn" Hannity
4. ?
January 18, 2009, 7:13:06 PM EST – Like – Reply

I find the new Hannity refreshingly more honest than Hannity and Holmes ever was. The production and guest scheduling of Hannity and Poodle was decidedly biased in Hannity's favor.
I do think there is an opportunity for a debate show on one of the three networks , but only if it is produced in a fair manner. But considering how Fox News ruined the Media Watch program, I don't think Fox News is interested in producing programs that are fair and balanced.
January 18, 2009, 9:01:18 PM EST – Like – Reply

D. Advocate
Hannity / James Carville would be better.
January 18, 2009, 9:11:46 PM EST – Like – Reply

Imus in no conservative, but you're wrong. He is a Republican.
January 18, 2009, 9:20:01 PM EST – Like – Reply

KeithO | Homepage | 01.18.09 - 9:06 pm | #  
Who's Danny?
January 18, 2009, 9:23:07 PM EST – Like – Reply

Tiger Sampson
Hannity and Matthews one hell of a debate show? Yikes!! What are you smoking? That would be a total disaster. Matthews was already dumped by NBC as co-anchor with Olberman during convention and election night coverage. Matthews is rude and not at all likable. He is arrogant, shallow and constantly talks over people. Who wants to watch that stuff night after night?...Considering Matthews consistant low ratings on MSNBC not many. So why would you want to promote him? Hannity is a proven commodity why drag him down the sewer with Matthews?
January 18, 2009, 9:26:50 PM EST – Like – Reply

Frankly, I am not enamoured of Hannity's new show. It hasn't found it's 'legs' yet in my opinion.  
They made a big deal out of Colmes being such a nice guy. He may be but I could not wait for him to depart to whereever he has departed. I could never stand his brand of partisanship.We get enough of that nonsense all around the dial. I am sick of it on CNN and do not watch them for that reason. I DO NOT watch MSNBC, CNBC or any shows like The View unless they are linked for reasons of virulent left leaning partisanship from those witches against anyone conservative that dares to beard them in their den!
IF Chris Matthews goes to Fox and appears with Hannity on his show, I will NOT watch it. I will satisfy myself with Hannity's radio show.  
I could not wait for Colmes to leave and if the Carville or Matthews show up we are history as viewers in that time slot.
January 18, 2009, 9:30:18 PM EST – Like – Reply

Hannity & Colmes has been replaced by MessNBC's Tucker Carlson show.
January 18, 2009, 9:32:27 PM EST – Like – Reply

Danny is one of many people who read this blog via the internets. However anyone is welcome to consider the comment addressed to them.
January 18, 2009, 9:33:17 PM EST – Like – Reply

Johnny in all honesty would it not be better if it was Hannity and Beckel, he can really put Sean of the defensive and he would not back down like Alan used to.
January 18, 2009, 9:53:10 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
I like Beckel. He'd be a good co-host; he did it for years on CNN's Crossfire. I'm not sure how Alan backed down. What issue did he ever back down on?
January 18, 2009, 9:59:46 PM EST – Like – Reply

I meant Johnny that Alan seemed at times not to take it to Hannity like, Hannity took it to him, I liked Allen, I just wish at times he was stronger.
January 18, 2009, 10:04:52 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
Well their job wasn't to argue with each other but to grill the guests. There used to be more back and forth between them in the early days of the program, but since then it was very structured. Every segment had a guest (except maybe 60 seconds at the end of the show). Each guest segment was divided down the middle: Hannity got half the time, then Colmes got the other half, with the order reversed for the following segment. I think you are reacting more to Hannity's stylistic aggression, interruptions, and flamboyance than to the actual substance of the arguments.
January 18, 2009, 10:10:57 PM EST – Like – Reply

Ken S
So far, Hannity's new show is a dud.
January 18, 2009, 10:11:04 PM EST – Like – Reply

You don't get more "working class hero cum eastern liberal elitist" than Chris Matthews.  
Oh, come now, Johnny.
January 18, 2009, 10:27:09 PM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
What, you don't like my hypothetical programming? I'm devastated!
January 18, 2009, 10:28:49 PM EST – Like – Reply

The show was never very good to begin with. You're deluding yourself if you thought this was a serious debate show. Both sides just rattled off their talking points to the guest, who usually shot back with his/her talking points. Hannity was better at this than Coilmes because he knew them by heart. Colmes would just sit there and read them off of a sheet of paper. The show has always been a joke. Firing Line it was not.
January 18, 2009, 10:29:28 PM EST – Like – Reply

It's not that I don't "like" it ... well, okay, I don't like it... (what a waste of Chris Matthews...) it's that I know it's not likely (trust me...I know the Matthews type)
Da plane...Da plane... (fantasy island...)
January 18, 2009, 10:37:40 PM EST – Like – Reply

Wise Old Dude
I think Hannity should be on with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill.  
Dr. Hill has been on FNC plenty of times and from what I saw he was intelligent and witty. I think would be a great one to match up with Hannity! I've enjoyed his appearances even when I disagreed with the opinions he expressed.
January 18, 2009, 10:46:36 PM EST – Like – Reply

R L Sibbitt
Get Susan Estrich to be Sean's partner. She's Liberal but not crazy. Shes sensible upbeat and not mean or too arrogant.
January 18, 2009, 11:04:05 PM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks
Only problem with hill would be they would need an interpriter or play it in slow motion...
January 18, 2009, 11:10:25 PM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks
I liked Allen, I just wish at times he was stronger.
Bababooey | 01.18.09 - 10:09 pm | #  
The lefties wouldn't have been happy with Colmes until he actually pulled out a piece and capped Hannity. Even then they would have bitched if he didn't shoot him in the right spot.
January 18, 2009, 11:12:59 PM EST – Like – Reply

Big difference in Hannity, Olberman and Matthews. What Hannity says is fact, Olberman and Matthews state their delusions.
January 18, 2009, 11:17:14 PM EST – Like – Reply

THe Factor
Hannity doesn't need some liberal screwing with Hannity's show. Who cares about the lefts view. I am sure PLO has opinions too but you can watch those on Al Jazera, th BBC, or CNN. I think we have had quite enough left wing opinion.
January 18, 2009, 11:24:19 PM EST – Like – Reply

Hannity knew them by heart? If you look at any old clips, Hannity had more 'cliff notes' in front of him then Alan ever did.
Alan couldn't win, Liberals would say he was too soft. Conservatives would say he was too nasty. Alan is Alan, and he's been that way forever. Glad he will still be on 'FNC radio'.
All I know H&C was about as balanced as you can get . There was no other show like H&C on prime cable. Sad to see it's done, but it was around for 12 years. Good Job.
Hannity's new show is a dud? Funny, the ratings don't bare that out. But let's say that the new show is a dud. Then that would make Mandow's show a disaster!
What would I like to see? Hannity against Savage or Jerry Doyle.
Yep, a real Conservative against 'The Brand Name'. Get real, Hannity pushes 'The Brand'. Just like Olby, but Sean at least to his credit is no 'gutter snipe'.
In the end I give Hannity props, so far he's a ratings winner. Let's see a month from now.
Johnny how about this, CNN cans CB, picks up Matthews and pairs him off against Savage. Ratings BLOCKBUSTER! CNN will own the 8 p.m. slot.
January 18, 2009, 11:49:28 PM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks | 01.18.09 - 11:17 pm | #  
TOO FUNNY! I'm on the floor! That was great. kudos!
January 18, 2009, 11:53:35 PM EST – Like – Reply

Get Susan Estrich to be Sean's partner. She's Liberal but not crazy. Shes sensible upbeat and not mean or too arrogant.
R L Sibbitt | 01.18.09 - 11:09 pm  
Yep, just what I want to hear. A whole hour of Susan going, "Oh Sean".
How about this, Sean & Stephanie Miller
January 19, 2009, 12:01:51 AM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar | Homepage | 01.18.09 - 10:15 pm | #  
I totally agree, good analogy Johnny
Olby Sucks | 01.18.09 - 11:17 pm | #  
That is way, way over the top os, nobody is that extreme, at least not the liberals I deal with.
January 19, 2009, 12:42:46 AM EST – Like – Reply

How about Hannity and James Carvelle
That would be interesting
January 19, 2009, 12:43:47 AM EST – Like – Reply

I never really did like H&C. Sean kept asking the same tired questions over and over again. And Colmes asked really twisted and dumb questions. I turned it off every night.
Sean by himself? Unwatchable. Always looking in the camera, center of attention and still with the same questions. And I'm a Republican.  
It's bad enough O'Reilly's ego is larger than my TV. Now 2 ego's back to back. What happened to fair and balanced?
January 19, 2009, 12:48:37 AM EST – Like – Reply

Just saw the headline linking to this post at HotAir and I had to come by and point out just how crappy I have found Hannity's new format. First of all, he needs to learn from O'Reilly and moderate 2 guests debating opposing points of view... Not 3... especially when the extra you use to debut the first show is freakin' Meatloaf.
Seriously though, it's not Meatloaf's fault, but Hannity had no control over the debates on the first show it and it was just a bunch of people talking at once and the only thing it was good for is if you were seeking a headache.
January 19, 2009, 12:57:13 AM EST – Like – Reply

Matthews will never concede directly to being a liberal. He's aware that he needs to maintain his "cover" to help Obama through the difficult 2010 and 2012 elections. The Hannity show is a test-drive. It will last until the next book, at which time Fox will quickly return to the left/right "debate" format. Or they'll finally give us Billy Mays vs. Vince from ShamWow - hopefully . . .
January 19, 2009, 1:22:11 AM EST – Like – Reply

johnny dollar
Actually I read that some channel is starting up a reality show with Billy Mays and "Swivel Sweeper" Sullivan! Must-see tv for sure. Maybe MSNBC will toss reruns of it into their weekend lineup.
January 19, 2009, 1:31:10 AM EST – Like – Reply

james jenkins
This show is just unwatchable. Hannity is a great republican but a piss poor American. He is already referring to Obama as an enemy, sub title "Dining with the enemy" when Obama had dinner with conservative writers. I'm not an American but I am a news junkie, who believes that America is a great country. Sean Hannity is a man who uses his platform on Fox to divide Americans and misinform.GBA
January 19, 2009, 2:45:55 AM EST – Like – Reply

Fox should torpedo Hannity on TV once an for all. He has little intellectual horsepower.  
Fox should replace him with someone who's smarter and more serious and go from there. Get someone conservative who can think on his or her feet rather than echoing talking points for months at a time.  
How about Michelle Malkin? Find her an intelligent liberal partner and go from there.  
In all events, Hannity needs to go, and Fox should find a smart and serious replacement. I get tired of the pie-throwing nonsense that gets offered up as a serious discussion of issues.
January 19, 2009, 3:14:01 AM EST – Like – Reply

Hannity is a shell of its former self. There are ways to improve the situation
Yeah, it could be improved, but do you really think that Sean Hannity would be willing to leave?
January 19, 2009, 5:18:50 AM EST – Like – Reply

The best Hannity and Colmes episodes were when Kirsten Powers subbed for Alan. She's an intelligent, attractive woman who has a unique left point of view. She's not crazy or shrill like most lefties and actually has the brain power to debate. The best debates were when she took it to Sean. Beckel would be the second choice. He can debate, but he's a little too abrasive and looney.
January 19, 2009, 5:51:58 AM EST – Like – Reply

Pat Mahoney
I would gag if I had to watch Matthews.
January 19, 2009, 6:44:56 AM EST – Like – Reply

david smawley
Why change something that so far has been a ratings winner, in spite of some comments here. Tweek it here and there and keep an eye on the rartings patterns. Johnny i'd like to add Vince of ShamWow fame to the infomercial reality show.
January 19, 2009, 7:05:27 AM EST – Like – Reply

Don L
You're so right! Whatever we do, we can't afford to let the right get the numerical advantage like we have on the View -ABC -CBS-NBC -CNN MSNBC - PBS - all movies -tv and AL JAZERRA -OOPS!
January 19, 2009, 7:17:40 AM EST – Like – Reply

Misty Cole
I think your wrong.
I love this new fomat.
Hannity is what he is....a Conservative, why not have a show that highlites this.
January 19, 2009, 8:25:03 AM EST – Like – Reply

I have to say, I struggled to watch H&C, and have only seen a few segments of the new show, but it wasn't horrible. It needs something to make it more exciting, but NO WAY should that reprehensible humanoid pig CM ever be on there. I think I would have to shoot my television. Hannity is by no means a great brain, but he is a nice guy. And he has a big following. I would add more time with people like Powers and Hill, just to shake it up a little, but I'm o.k. with it being a conservative show. How bout putting Coulter on with Powers? Elder with Hill? Carville, well, no, I never understand what he is saying. Just because he has the same type format as the psycho twins, doesn't mean he is as crazy as those boys! Or Matthews, either.
January 19, 2009, 8:54:22 AM EST – Like – Reply

Not nessecarily on here, but I go around on the web, and I see Liberals blast Hannittys new show. They all say he is a moron, but they make no mention of the stooges on MSNBC. Maddow and Olbermann, Matthews and Shuster are worth mentioning.
January 19, 2009, 9:09:27 AM EST – Like – Reply

Adding Larry Elder to the panel is a great idea, dbutler!
January 19, 2009, 9:10:57 AM EST – Like – Reply

'It's Out There' With Michelle Malkin And Kirsten Powers On Fox News Channel from 2007
Also, I recall some "Factor" episodes Malkin subbed for O'Reilly that had Powers and a third attractive, intelligent, well-spoken female political commentator, whose name escapes me. I thought at the time that the three should have their own show.
January 19, 2009, 10:21:35 AM EST – Like – Reply

Hmmm, personally, Kirsten Powers would be great opposite of Hannity. She is fairly subdued, which you'd almost have to have in response to Hannity, but she knows how to get her point across and is very level-headed. Of course, she, too, probably isn't Democrat enough for them.
Hannity is unwatchable by himself. It's frustrating and sad, because he is just overbearing, personality-wise. I have thought about others who could possibly replace Colmes, but really, I think Powers is best. I had an idea for somebody else, but I've forgot them already, heh.
January 19, 2009, 10:40:56 AM EST – Like – Reply

Aaron | 01.19.09 - 10:45 am | #  
I agree, Powers would have been an excellent co-host for the show.
January 19, 2009, 11:48:56 AM EST – Like – Reply

bill mcdonald
How about Juan Williams across from Sean? Kirsten is good but perhaps not strong enough to face Sean down. CM? Yuk, Carvelle? ditto. Mark Lamont Hill? Unable to process a view other than his twisted view and he needs to slow his speach pattern by 200%!
Finally, Sean is doing well in the ratings and his show will just continue to improve.
January 19, 2009, 11:56:00 AM EST – Like – Reply

Fox Fan
I like Hannity better than H&C. It could improve with a well spoken cohost, ML Hill and Estrich have potential there. BOR could improve too if he dumped some of the fluff segments like the Culture Quiz (50 year old trivia? Blecch).  
Everyone has their own ideas on how good shows could be made better, what matters is if a majority of viewers would agree. Otherwise Hannity risks dumping in the ratings.
Red Eye could only be improved by running uncensored.
January 19, 2009, 12:46:05 PM EST – Like – Reply

Iron King
Good review of the new Hannity show - boils down to if you want a debate or just your side's view restated by a talking head on TV. And if you can stand Hannity or not. I loathe the low-intellectual horse power and logically challenged Sean "Wear Your False Patriotism on Your Sleeve" Hannity, and don't like one-sided diatribes, which is why I seldom watch KO. Would people watch a reasoned political debate show sans sideshow theatrics? Doubtful or they'd be doing it.
January 19, 2009, 3:18:15 PM EST – Like – Reply

Red Eye could only be improved by running uncensored.
Fox Fan | Homepage | 01.19.09 - 12:51 pm | # 
I've enjoyed the hell out of Red Eye since I started taping it.
The show would lose something of its irreverence and naughtiness if it weren't bleeped. 
Risque and suggestive are far more fun and tantalizing than explicit, FF.
And if you don't agree with me, then you, sir, are worse than Hitler... 
January 19, 2009, 5:20:59 PM EST – Like – Reply

What no Geese........who could miss the geese segment? Delicious!
Hannity and James Carville please you are not serious are you??
I think you are right about one thing though, republication debating republication. Definitely the safest way to go, no fear of a differing opinion with that format!
January 19, 2009, 6:30:20 PM EST – Like – Reply

Fox Fan
CC, if fiery intellect was a playground tunnel slide, I'd be laughing with glee as I went into you over and over. 
January 19, 2009, 7:44:07 PM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks
which is why I seldom watch KO.
Iron King | 01.19.09 - 3:23 pm | # 
By seldom you mean only 4 times a week?
January 19, 2009, 8:54:38 PM EST – Like – Reply

Well when Hannity has "Joe the Plumber" as a member of the Great American Panel, at least Bob Beckel is their, but please Sean, you could not find anyone better.
January 19, 2009, 9:46:32 PM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks
baba, are you saying Hannity was fair and balanced?
January 20, 2009, 1:11:04 AM EST – Like – Reply

Philip A
I watch Hannity and even listen to him (and Rush) on AM, but I do so for entertainment and stimulation, NOT for information or valuable viewpoints. I like to think that their style not their substance is what earns them ratings. And that was probably Alan Colmes' weakness: his lack of style. Soooo, if I were to seek someone to debate opposite Hannity, it'd have to be someone with a strong yet contrasting style to his. Got to keep up the entertainment--misinformation, oversimplification and slimey inuendo, like the fascinating blood and gore of horror movies, still needs a plotline somewhere.
January 20, 2009, 7:32:37 AM EST – Like – Reply

Olby Sucks | 01.20.09 - 1:16 am | # 
I mean Joe the Plumber, He could not have found a better conservative who know what the hell he is talking about.
January 20, 2009, 9:56:44 AM EST – Like – Reply

Hannity and Mathews would be entertaining. Although in all honesty, I don't think either of them are incredibly bright.
There have got to be a better of pair, of Liberal and Conservatives out there. I don't see it happening but I'd be much happier if we had a show, that seemd less about political points and more about competing philsophies.
January 24, 2009, 12:55:35 AM EST – Like – Reply

Craigs, I don't think we have anymore William F Buckleys hanging around.
Do I know you? Are you the "Craigs" that owes me an answer to my brilliant apologia of the rationale for the iraq War?
January 24, 2009, 1:24:23 PM EST – Like – Reply