The Last Hurrah

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn.

In the Fox News skybox atop a packed arena, Brit Hume rolls his eyes as the giant video monitor below fills with black-and-white images during Fred Thompson's convention oration.

"Baby pictures of John McCain? What in the world are they doing? Oh, this is just atrocious," he grumbles to his colleagues on the set.

Moments later, Hume slips off his half-glasses and turns to the camera as lifelong Democrat Joe Lieberman wraps up his speech. "He said he is not Michael Moore's favorite Democrat," Hume tells viewers. "The truth of the matter is, he's probably not many Democrats' favorite Democrat."

Hume traffics in wry humor and droll observation, a low-key style that belies the voracious interest he has always had in politics. But that appetite has faded, which is why the 32-year television veteran has just anchored his last convention.

In cable news, says Hume, "you work quite hard. I've got to be in there with my hands. I'm 65, for God's sake. I don't want to do all that stuff anymore." He is retiring at year's end as Fox's Washington managing editor but will continue as a part-time pundit.

As a conservative who doesn't hesitate to accuse much of the mainstream media of left-leaning bias, Hume stands at the crossroads of an increasingly shrill debate over political coverage. And he sounds worn down by the constant battering.

"It's dispiriting," he says. "This is just partisan poison, and after a while you get tired of covering it."

His wife, Kim Hume, who retired two years ago as Fox's Washington bureau chief, echoes that sentiment. "Sometimes it's so ugly that you have to leave the scene," she says. "Brit is just ready. He's accomplished what he wants to accomplish and he's ready to slow down."

Despite the exciting twists and turns of this year's presidential marathon, Hume sounds underwhelmed. While he enjoyed the hoopla surrounding Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver, "I'd heard it all before. . . . When you get right down to it, the substance of what he's for, he's a pretty conventional politician."

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