Inside the Beltway: NPR ponders 'slaying the Fox monster'

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Fox News continues to vex its competition. Following the treacherous U.S. Capitol riot and the arrival of the Biden administration, CNN and MSNBC enjoyed promising ratings that had them ahead of Fox News. But that particular media honeymoon is over, and Fox is back at No. 1, according to Nielsen, with 2.4 million prime-time viewers. MSNBC is in close pursuit with 2.2 million viewers and CNN at third with an audience of 1.8 million.

It is a touchy and volatile marketplace that Fox News navigates with care and precision. The liberal media, however, appear to be jittery about the network.

National Public Radio has a serious, red-hot loathing of Fox News. The latest demonstration was the February 5 episode of the very tilted weekly show On The Media, produced by WNYC-FM in New York and airing on more than 400 public radio stations across America. The episode was boldly titled ‘Slaying the Fox Monster,’” reports Tim Graham, director of analysis for the Media Research Center, a conservative press watchdog.

National Public RadioNPR — enjoys a weekly audience of about 57 million, by the way.

The episode in question included a segment titled “Deplatforming Fox News” and was hosted by analyst Bob Garfield who noted that The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other news organizations “have all entertained musings about Fox — one way or another — being shunned from polite society,” he told his audience and his guests.

“What if Fox News were to be neutralized or at least radically ostracized?” Mr. Garfield asked.

“We’re discussing how the marketplace might force Fox News Channel into responsible behavior or even into financial catastrophe,” he later added.

Mr. Graham is concerned that taxpayer dollars help support National Public Radio and its many shows. He also ponders — in theory anyway — what would happen if future programming surfaced with the title “How to Slay the Public Broadcasting Monster.”

Yes, well. Curious? Listen to the show yourself here: Wnycstudios.org/podcasts.

THEY CAN’T LET TRUMP GO

Multiple analysts have already wondered what the heck the media would do without former President Donald Trump standing by as a convenient target. The answer is that many news organizations just can’t kick the habit of kicking Mr. Trump, even after an acquittal in his second impeachment trial. A few telling headlines from the past 24 hours:

“This is Trump’s heaping list of legal problem post-impeachment” (CNN); “Trump escapes conviction but even his allies say he’s damaged” (Politico); “Trump’s impeachment legacy: Violent extremism” (The New York Times); “How the Senate could still prevent Trump from running again with a simple majority” (MSNBC).

PRESIDENTS DAY VIEWING

Some appropriate programming of note: “The New Air Force One: Flying Fortress” debuts on the National Geographic Channel on Monday at 10 p.m. Eastern, chronicling the arrival of, well, the updated version of the presidential ride.

“A new, state-of-the-art 747 jumbo jet has been transformed into the flying White House” the news organization advises, describing the documentary’s intimate access to the spiffed up, technology-heavy 747 now transformed into a “top-secret, highly secured command center,” complete with “dramatic military makeover.”

It also includes an interview with Mr. Trump, who actually chose the color schemes of the $5.3 billion aircraft. It has yet to take its first official flight.

And by the way “Flying Fortress” was the name of another legendary aircraft — the B-17 heavy bomber of World War II fame.

“On July 28, 1935, a four-engine plane took off from Boeing Field in south Seattle on its first flight. Rolling out of the Boeing hangar, it was simply known as the Model 299. Seattle Times reporter Richard Smith dubbed the new plane, with its many machine-gun mounts, the ‘Flying Fortress,’ a name that Boeing quickly adopted and trademarked,” notes Boeing — maker of both the bomber and Air Force One — in its official history.

A COMPLICATED HOLIDAY

Public concerns on Presidents Day mostly revolve around what’s on sale, whether banks and the stock market are open, or if there’s a dinner special down at the neighborhood carryout. Meanwhile, the day itself has a complicated pedigree.

“In the late 1870s, Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey proposed the idea of adding George Washington‘s birth date, February 22, to the four existing bank holidays previously approved in 1870. Signed into law January 31, 1879, by President Rutherford B. Hayes, the law was implemented in 1880 and applied only to District federal workers. Washington’s Birthday had become the first Federal holiday to single out an individual’s birth date, and the honor lasted for less than a century,” notes a public advisory authored by the U.S. Government Printing Office and U.S. Archives.

“In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill which moved a number of Federal holidays to Mondays. In 1971, with the implementation of the Uniform Monday Holiday Law (82 Stat. 250), the third Monday in February became the date on which Washington’s Birthday is celebrated. Some reformers had wanted to change the name of the holiday as well to Presidents’ Day, in honor of both Abraham Lincoln and Washington, but that proposal was rejected by Congress and the holiday remained officially Washington’s Birthday,” the explanation continued.

“While the name change has never been authorized by Congress, it has gained a strong hold on the public consciousness to honor all U.S. presidents, and is generally used on calendars, in advertising, and even by many government agencies,” it concluded.

POLL DU JOUR

• 71% of U.S. adults are now “willing to be immunized” against COVID-19; 51% of Republicans, 61% of independents and 91% of Democrats agree.

• 72% of women and 69% of men, 72% of “non-White” adults, 71% of “white” adults, 84% of college graduates and 66% of noncollege graduates also agree.

• 9% overall have already received their vaccine; 7% of Republicans, 8% of independents and 12% of Democrats agree.

• 11% of women and 7% of men, 8% of non-White adults, 10% of White adults, 13% of college graduates and 8% of noncollege graduates also agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 4,098 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 25-31 and released Feb. 10.

• Have a pleasant Presidents Day and thanks for reading Inside the Beltway.

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