NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik quickly appeared on the NPR-produced midday show Here and Now on Wednesday to discuss Megyn Kelly’s move from Fox News to NBC. He twice praised her for “cannily” negotiating herself across the media spectrum -- strange new respect which might make a conservative think she’s headed straight to the left.
Host Robin Young dragged in Fox-hating leftist commentary that Kelly had an alleged “long history of offensive out of touch comments about minorities,” like taking exception to a Slate article back in 2013 that Santa Claus should “no longer be a white man.” Young also insisted Kelly was wrong to say Jesus was white. When she asked what this means for NBC, Folkenflik uncorked this jaw-dropper:
FOLKENFLIK: I think she’s desperately hoping to get away from ideology, get away from inflammatory statements at NBC. I think she’s looking to be more in the model of Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, a Charlie Rose at CBS. Someone who can go for the soft-focus interviews, human interest stories, as well as being able to do the serious news sometimes.
While it’s certain that Charlie Rose is a soft touch for the mostly liberal guests he invites to CBS and PBS, and it’s true that Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters have gushed in “soft focus interviews” with leftists from Hillary Clinton to Fidel Castro, it’s downright bizarre to describe these figures as models of “getting away from ideology.”
While Folkenflik bowed to Young and said it’s fair to criticize Kelly for attempting to connect with the Fox audience – apparently, liberals think that only happens through bashing minorities – he said “she doesn’t really want that ideological blanket.”
While I listened live, I tweeted at Folkenflik: "You HONESTLY think 'no ideology' matches Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and Charlie Rose?" He replied soon after the interview: "I think whatever views surface that's by and large not the point of their shows". I shot back with an example from 2003: "So when Barbara Walters devotes a 2 hour special to promoting Hillary Clinton's book, that's not ideological?" Again, he stuck by his argument: "I think she would have done same for Laura Bush had LB followed HRC path and proved a likely ratings win."
Walters asked Mrs. Clinton questions such as her post-impeachment feelings: "I mean, no hard feelings, no remnants? Are you a saint?" And: "I don't think people realize how strong your faith is."
This is how Folkenflik began the interview, by forecasting a future without Kelly at Fox:
FOLKENFLIK: The Murdoch family...had been sort of intending to bet the future of Fox on her, in a sense softening some of Fox’s more pugilistic and bombastic edges to somebody who is tough-minded but seemingly largely fair-minded, although perfectly capable of throwing read meat to the network’s most faithful and conservative viewers....
They were expecting there not to be a Trump presidency, but for Hillary clinton to be taking up office later this month in the White House, and maybe things needed to be softened. Right now, this gives them the chance, if they want to and I think they do, to double down, to be more of a channel catering to its ideological core, and to double down on a kind of Trumpism.