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