Although not as well known as Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, Mark Hyman has made a name for himself with his fiery conservative commentaries on dozens of television stations owned by Hunt Valley's Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Yesterday, Hyman, 48, announced that he plans to drop his daily commentary, known as "The Point," at the end of the month to spend more time with his four children.
"I want to focus more on family activities and recharge my batteries," Hyman said in a telephone interview. "I'm exhausted."
Hyman, a former Sinclair vice president and until two years ago its spokesman, said he was not being pushed out and that he would still work on "strategic issues" for Sinclair, which owns or operates more than 50 stations, including Fox affiliate WBFF in Baltimore. The company said Hyman "may make occasional televised appearances to discuss current events."
But after more than five years and some 2,000 daily commentaries, Hyman's absence may well be felt by his adherents, who welcomed his excoriative editorials against Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's war record during the 2004 presidential campaign and Hyman's descriptions of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys."
One of Hyman's legacies at Sinclair was the development of News Central, a system that allowed local stations around the country to present as their own stories that were actually produced at company headquarters in Maryland.
His commentaries were built into the News Central format, reviving the once-common practice of station managers going on air to deliver editorials.
Hyman, a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and his colleagues at publicly held Sinclair came under criticism in 2004 when they admitted that commentator Armstrong Williams, who had a syndicated broadcast on 51 Sinclair stations, was paid about $240,000 by the Bush administration to praise administration programs.
Sinclair, known for its conservative leanings, forbade its ABC affiliates that same year from airing an edition of Nightline that showed Ted Koppel reading the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, under the premise that it was "motivated by a political agenda."
Then, shortly before the 2004 presidential election, Sinclair announced plans to broadcast on their stations a documentary that questioned Kerry's war record in Vietnam and his actions afterward.
Hyman said at the time that any stations that failed to run the film were "acting like Holocaust deniers."
David Smith, Sinclair's chief executive and one of four brothers who assumed control of the company in 1986, said in a statement yesterday that, over the past few years, Hyman's commentaries "have invoked thoughtful discussions on many topics and across all demographics."
Smith said that Hyman's "in-depth research and exposure of issues that the traditional media don't report have hopefully raised the public's level to dig deeper and question what they're reading or hearing."