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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Alan Colmes of Fox News has died, but he leaves a legacy of unmasking the conservative corruption in Deep South that national journalists often ignored


Alan Colmes
News today of Alan Colmes' death has struck us hard here at Legal Schnauzer. We long admired Colmes as the lone reasonable, intelligent, progressive voice on Fox News. We marveled at his ability to be outnumbered and still outwit Sean Hannity and conservative guests night after night on the long-running Hannity and Colmes talk fest.

But our appreciation for Colmes was personal. That's because he was one of the first national journalists to report on the blow back I was facing for reporting on GOP corruption in Alabama. In fact, I think Colmes played a significant role in getting me released from my unlawful five-month incarceration from October 23, 2013, to March 26, 2014.

I was the only journalist to be jailed in the western hemisphere in 2013, the first to be incarcerated since 2006 and likely the only one in U.S. history to be jailed because of a preliminary injunction in a defamation case, which has been unlawful under First Amendment law for only 200-plus years. Colmes recognized it as an important story, and while it received national and international attention, Colmes was one of the first (and certainly the best known) reporters to cover it.

At his LiberalLand blog (alan.com), Colmes was one of the first mainstream journalists to pick up on our reports about anti-LGBT federal judge Bill Pryor and his ties to 1990s gay pornography via badpuppy.com. He also was among the first to report on law-enforcement intimidation we experienced in the days and weeks after our Pryor reports. (See "Is A Whistleblowing Alabama Blogger Being Harassed By Law Enforcement?") When GOP operatives Rob Riley and Liberty Duke filed a bogus defamation lawsuit in apparent retaliation for my reports about their "relationship" (and the Pryor story), Colmes was there to inform the public.

When I finally was released from jail, Colmes provided solid coverage. And just one week prior to my release, Colmes conducted a jailhouse interview with me via telephone.

Was it a coincidence that my release came so soon after the Colmes interview? I don't think so. Many of my friends and readers don't think so either. One said. "When Fox News started focusing on your incarceration, I think the Alabama crooks knew they had problems."

Once I was released, Colmes and Peter B. Collins were the first journalists to interview me. (Colmes' jailhouse and post-release interviews can be heard via links at the end of this post.)

Alan Colmes did not have to pay attention to my story. There were plenty of stories from the White House or Congress that he could have talked or written about. But he was a person of genuine depth and courage. He truly was willing to go where many other journalists would not go. And he treated my plight with seriousness, showing how it threatened the constitutional protections that keep our far-flung society knitted together.

Colmes also recognized that news is not just generated on America's east and west coasts. He knew real issues confronted real Americans in that "vast wasteland" between LA and New York. He knew a story of profound importance was brewing in a little hellhole called Columbiana, Alabama, and he did not hesitate to dive in and find out what was going on.

This I will always remember about Alan Colmes: I am, unquestionably, a "real journalist," with more than 30 years of professional experience and and a degree from one of the nation's foremost J-schools (University of Missouri, Class of 1978 -- "Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah, Mizzou-rah Tigers!) Still, as a "blogger," I find that many of my fellow journalists treat me (and other bloggers) with scorn or indifference -- as second- or third-class citizens.

I'm sure many journalists ignored my incarceration because, "Well, it was just a blogger in jail." And the so-called "progressive legal community" was useless, probably because, "Oh well, he's just a blogger."

Alan Colmes never offered up that garbage. He treated me (and my wife, Carol) with respect, never looking down on us because we lived in Alabama or because we were affiliated with Legal Schnauzer and not The New York Times.

Colmes' touch has been apparent on Legal Schnauzer in recent years. He invited me to take part in an advertising network to promote liberal blogs. I don't remember the other blogs involved, but I think Little Green Footballs was one. We hardly made any money off the ad network; I think we might have raked in $25 over several years, and that wasn't Alan's fault. The reality of blog advertising is that it's often not a moneymaking proposition, particularly for a liberal blog in a conservative country, with a blog that unmasks corrupt elites who can threaten advertisers in various ways.

Even though the ad network was not profitable, I chose to hang in there with it. I knew Alan Colmes was a class act, and I liked being affiliated with him -- even though few people knew I was affiliated with him.

Who are the people you remember in life? Is it the ones who reach out with a genuine touch, with a good heart, in your darkest hour of need?

The answer, for me, is yes. And for that reason, I will always be grateful to have crossed paths with Alan Colmes.

He never will be forgotten here at Legal Schnauzer. I hope folks around the nation understand what a genuinely caring, thoughtful person he was. I was fortunate to see that first-hand.


Alan Colmes' jailhouse interview


Alan Colmes' post-release interview with Legal Schnauzer

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very sad to hear about Alan Colmes. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Alan Colmes was one of the few people who made Fox News bearable. They've had a few news babes who were easy on the eyes, and Megyn Kelly could be both easy on the eyes and interesting at times. But Alan was a prince in a hostile environment. RIP

legalschnauzer said...

@1:27 --

Yes, a real journalist who stood up for a real journalist who was the victim of GOP thugs in Alabama. I doubt you've stood up for anyone or anything in your time. Maybe you can learn from Alan Colmes' example and become a useful human being.

Anonymous said...

We need more like Alan Colmes, not fewer. Big loss.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Colmes' reporting played a major role in your release. I think it sent the message to "Judge" Claud Neilson that: "You've crossed the line dumb ass."

Anonymous said...

Nice tribute, LS. Thoughtful, appropriate, touching.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten how much attention Colmes paid to your incarceration. Very impressive, and I'm sure it meant a great deal to you.

legalschnauzer said...

I can hardly put into words what it meant to me. And he didn't just pay attention to it or reach out . . . he did serious journalism on the story. He treated both me (and Carol) and the story with respect, and I will never forget him for that.

We've been let down and back stabbed by so many people -- even blood relatives and so-called college friends -- but Colmes was made of solid stuff, the real deal. He made me proud to be a liberal.

Anonymous said...

Folks should click on the links at the bottom of this post and listen to LS's interviews with Colmes. AC was first class (and LS did a good job, too).

legalschnauzer said...

Absolutely, @2:35. I want people to understand that Alan Colmes was not just a pundit (although he was good at that). He was a serious journalist, and that comes through in those interviews. He was prepared, thorough, knowledgeable, human. Anyone interested in interviewing -- for journalism, business, HR, etc. -- should listen to this. Alan didn't just throw softballs at me. He asked serious, penetrating questions, but he made me comfortable and gave me a chance to respond. He got key information out of me, but also drew out my emotions. He was very good at what he did, a real pro.

He was far more talented than Sean Hannity, and yet I'm sure Hannity had the far more impressive bank account. Just a sign that America values blowhards over professionals.

Anonymous said...

This is from a Daily Kos article re: Alan Colmes coverage of your incarceration:

"The Doc can also tell you that Alan is too modest to take any credit for his part in the development, but if you don’t think that there is any coincidence between the timing of the jailhouse interview and Shuler’s release, consider this: if you were a Republican politico in Shelby County or the Alabama statehouse, how would you feel about FOX News Radio picking up the story of a liberal blogger essentially being held hostage following one of the most incompetent and underhanded attempts to serve legal papers in the state’s history?"

legalschnauzer said...

Thanks for sharing, @3:21. I absolutely agree with the author of that piece. BTW, I think "The Doc" might be a reference to one of Alan's staff members.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is comment that is supposed to be at @1:27 above. I mistakenly deleted it, although my response to it was published at @1:38.


Anonymous
1:27 PM (2 hours ago)

to me
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Alan Colmes of Fox News has died, but he leaves a ...":

Wow, a picture of a real journalist AND something finally worth reading. Two things I thought I would never find on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Great tribute to a special person. Well done, indeed.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that a big-timer like Alan Colmes took an interest in your case, but did anyone from Alabama MSM cover it?

legalschnauzer said...

@7:01 --

I was in jail, cut off from the world, so I didn't know what was being reported at the time. Plus, my memory has faded a bit. But I know Channel 42 in Bham (WIAT) did a story, and Judge Claud Neilson was seriously pissed off about that. He mentioned it in the one hearing I had before him. Al.com covered my resisting-arrest trial, but I don't think they mentioned that video shown at the trial portrayed Officer Chris Blevins entering our garage without showing a warrant, stating he had a warrant, or stating his reason for being there. Al.com's Kent Faulk, I think, did a story about my release and about a warrant being issued because I allegedly had not paid fine on resisting-arrest charge. I don't think Faulk or any other MSM member in Alabama ever reported that Rob Riley's effort to get a prelim injunction in a defamation case was 100 percent unlawful, that cops tried to serve us via a bogus traffic stop, that I was maced inside my own home by officer who did not state why he was there, and so on. In other words, most Alabama journalists (unless WIAT was the exception) gave no hint at how grossly unlawful all of this was. For that you had to go to California and get your news from Peter B. Collins and Alan Colmes, or to DC and Andrew Kreig. Al-Jazeera also did some good reporting, as did Who What Where, and some others I'm forgetting. But the Alabama MSM did pretty much nothing of substance. And Campbell Robertson, of the NY Times, wrote the worst piece of all. Was horribly written, with all kinds of false assertions, he did a terrible interview, and was generally clueless. I would never agree to an interview with him again. He's unprofessional and a fraud.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't "oh well, he's a blogger"... It was oh well, he's kind of creepy and crazy, and definitely his own worst enemy, who would not be in jail if he had been willing to defend himself instead of playing games with service, throwing sue papers out of the window of his car like a lunatic.

legalschnauzer said...

@11:45 --

I posted your comment as an example of how clueless some people are:

(1) Can you cite any law that says it is proper to conduct a Fourth Amendment traffic stop for the sole purpose of serving court papers?

(2) If you can find no such law, and I can guarantee you can't, why was I the one "playing games with service"? Do you think cops should have to follow the law, or do you give them a free pass to do as they please? How would you respond if you were the one being unlawfully stopped in traffic.

(3) What does proper service mean under the law? What does it mean, under the law, if service is not executed properly?

(4) What do you mean by I wasn't "willing to defend myself"? Do you mean I did not appear in the case?

Let's see if you can answer any of these questions correctly.