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The end of Obamamania

The TV ratings for February have been tabulated, and in the world of cable news there is weeping on the left. Fox News Channel, which is generally tougher on the president, hammered the two networks that most favor President Barack Obama - CNN and MSNBC. In fact, Fox News was the third-highest rated prime-time cable network in America, behind USA and TNT. CNN was 15th; MSNBC, a dismal 23rd.

Also, unique visitors to the Obama-loving website Daily Kos have declined a whopping 73 percent since last fall - a disaster. What's going on?

It all has to do with fear. While 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, many news consumers do not trust news operations and Web sites that have a vested interest in seeing Obama succeed in the White House. One look at NBC News, for example, and you know the company line is to help Obama, not report the unvarnished truth.

Spinning the economy does not 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. 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 instead of accumulating information can lead to a distorted view of reality. Many among the media these days are in business to promote a political philosophy rather than to protect the folks by exposing dangerous situations. Ideology has corrupted the watchdog press that our founders envisioned.

Left to fend for themselves, the folks are gravitating toward news agencies that seemingly tell it like it is. Committed left-wing newspapers are folding in Seattle, Minneapolis and, perhaps, San Francisco. The New York Times had to borrow money from a Mexican guy at 14 percent interest, and far-left TV news operations are sinking fast.

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.

Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News.