My limited exposure to NPR (some podcasts, some furniture based music performance) means I still hold them in high regard.
I’m not sure if I agree with your argument on fantasy though. What good sci-fi and fantasy have in common, I think, is that they can both try to say something about our world by presenting something familiar stripped from its familiar setting. Sure it doesn’t need goblins or spaceships or dragons but it’s a lot more fun to hold a phenomenon up to the light when it’s presented in a curious way. The reason sci-fi is often better at some form of introspection / social commentary, I would argue, is that it’s baked in the what-if. Why would you change something fundamental about our universe if it didn’t result in some interesting outcome?
Fantasy on the other hand can be anything from “here’s a captivating multithreaded story deeply rooted in history and religions of past centuries” (Game of Thrones, which to be fair I have yet to finish) to “I made eight hundred names but zero reasons for you to care”. So if there’s even a remotely good reason for why a palace intrigue gels well with the themes and concepts associated with goblins, I don’t see why that’s inherently bad or devoid of stakes.