The TV ratings for February have been tabulated, and in the world of cable news, there is weeping among the left. The two networks that most favor President Obama, CNN and MSNBC, got hammered by the Fox News Channel, which is generally tougher on the president. In fact, Fox News was the third highest prime-time rated cable network in America, behind USA and TNT. CNN was 15th, MSNBC… a dismal 23rd.
Also, unique visitors for the Obama-loving website Daily Kos have declined a whopping 73% since last fall—a disaster. So what’s going on?
It all has to do with fear. While President Obama retains a high approval rating, many Americans are flat-out scared about the economy. The recession is bringing massive pain to America, and responsible citizens want the truth about public policy, not partisan cheerleading.
Thus, news operations and websites that have a vested interest in seeing Barack Obama succeed in the White House are not trusted by many news consumers. One look at NBC News, for example, and you know the company line is to help President Obama, not report the unvarnished truth.
Spinning the economy does not really help people whose jobs may be in jeopardy. They need solid information about what is actually happening in order to make difficult decisions on personal spending and, perhaps, seeking new employment in a more secure industry. So, self-protection dictates they secure the most reliable sources of information available.
On the other side, Obama bashing doesn’t do the folks much good, either. Why waste time on attacks, when information is what the folks need? I think it’s fair to say that this brutal economic downturn took most Americans by surprise. It certainly shocked me. Even though I’m a journalist, I had no idea that mortgage companies were gaming the system by bundling risky loans and selling them to dunces at Lehman Brothers. I was clueless. In hindsight, I should have been more skeptical of the housing bubble.
The point is that concentrating on ideology rather than accumulating information can lead to a distorted view of reality. Much of the media these days is in business to promote a political philosophy rather than to protect the folks by exposing dangerous situations. The watchdog press that the Founders envisioned has been corrupted by ideology.
And so the folks are left to fend for themselves, and they are gravitating toward news agencies that seemingly tell it like it is. Committed left wing newspapers are folding in Seattle, Minneapolis and perhaps in San Francisco. The New York Times had to borrow money from a Mexican guy at 14% interest. The far-left TV news operations are sinking fast.
President Obama still has wide support, but not fanatical support. Most of the folks simply want the truth, even though these days the truth can be hard to handle.