Didn’t you just know as soon as the Twitterverse lit up in response to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ train wreck on 60 Minutes last night that Fox & Friends would be on Republican Rehab duty?
In case you missed her on 60 Minutes, DeVos was not only unable to answer basic questions, she admitted she has “not intentionally visited schools that are underperforming.” As Crooks and Liars’ Susie Madrak suggested, the reason DeVos was so woefully unprepared was probably because she bought her way into her cabinet post and already knew she would not be held accountable.
However, according to CNN, “White House officials were alarmed” by DeVos’ performance.
So, naturally, she was on Fox & Friends this Monday morning for softball questions designed to show that she was not the over-privileged ignoramus more interested in privatizing public schools and implementing a conservative agenda than in learning about the job she was unqualified for and only squeaked into via a historic tiebreaking vote from Mike Pence. Even though that’s how she plainly presented last night.
But what are Fox Friends for if not to make you disbelieve your lyin’ eyes in favor of pro-Trump propaganda? Especially since DeVos has just been put in charge of a commission on school safety that will surely get close scrutiny thanks to the Never Again movement.
Fortunately for DeVos and her equally unqualified boss, Donald Trump, the Friends cohosts lobbed softballs that all but gave away the answer before she opened her mouth. STEVE DOOCY (COHOST): Madam secretary, we’ve been going through some of the things on the agenda that the president and the White House would like to get done. But ultimately it sounds like the ultimate goal would be to harden the schools. Would that be accurate? DEVOS: Well, Steve, that’s one of the opportunities we have and one of the responsibilities we have, frankly. We have many other venues in our country that are kept safe, and schools have to be a part of that equation as well. And every state and every community is going to do this slightly differently, but we’re going to advance ways in which schools can be made safer for students. And in which—which works for each community and for each state.
That was a vague answer. But instead of pressing for specifics, “hard-hitting journalist” Ainsley Earhardt changed subjects to prod DeVos to attack Democrats. DeVos did not really take the bait. Instead, she talked up Trump. EARHARDT: Madam secretary, thank you so much for being on with us. [Democratic Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer—he is not on board with this plan. This is what he had to say., and let’s get your reaction. ... It’s a statement: “The White House has taken tiny baby steps designed not to upset the NRA when the gun violence epidemic in this country demands that giant steps be taken. Democrats in the Senate will push to go further, including passing universal background checks, actual federal legislation on protection orders, and a debate on banning assault weapons.” What’s your reaction? DEVOS: Well, the point is, there are pieces of legislation before Congress today that can take significant steps in the right direction: Background checks, the Stop Violence Act. They have broad bipartisan support. And the president wants to see Congress act now, take these steps today, and then let’s look at what we can do as next steps beyond that. But every time we’ve had a situation like this, we’ve had a lot of discussion, and camps go into their various corners. And then we sit and don’t get anything done. The president is committed to taking action and to ensuring that we do what we can at the federal level to protect kids.
Later, DeVos told Earhardt, “There is not going to be a one-size-fits-all solution to this issue and this problem. There are going to be many different solutions.”
Cohost Brian Kilmeade quickly validated her, saying, “If I’m governor, I’d like to do it myself.” Then he switched subjects to help her promote school choice: KILMEADE: Giving kids a school—give choice, vouchers for kids to be able to go to schools, some of which are excellent schools, and out of schools that might be failing. Well, Huffington Post says, “School choice is a lie that harms us all.” What don’t they understand that you do? DEVOS: Well, they obviously haven’t talked to the many thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions of parents, who want to have the chance to choose the right education for their child. And we know today there is just a fraction of families in this country that are able to make that choice. And we need to make that choice much more broadly available to ensure that every child is in a school and in a learning environment that works for him or her. KILMEADE: And some can’t afford it and that’s where the vouchers come in, correct? DEVOS: That’s right. And a voucher is just a mechanism. There are many mechanisms that can be used. The key is giving parents freedom for their kids’ education. Freedom to make the decisions and the choices that are right for their child or their children.
DeVos could have used that opening to clarify and expand upon her argument for school choice which she had flubbed so badly on 60 Minutes. Certainly, any news cohost worth her salt would have pressed Devos on that point, especially one who claims, as Earhardt does, that she wants to ask tough questions.
But Earhardt's follow-up question was whether or not DeVos' plan includes giving public money to religious schools. DEVOS: It does indeed [include religious schools]. There are many programs already today in states that are serving small numbers of families of kids, and if they select a school, a faith-based school, that is certainly their option and choice. But, the idea, again, is giving parents the kind of freedom that those who have means and those who are wealthy are able to make those decisions on a daily basis. DOOCY: Well, we like the idea, but of course the teachers unions don’t because they feel their jobs are at stake. DEVOS: Well, there are some very powerful forces that are arrayed against changing the status quo. And that is what we are up against. But the reality is that the majority of people in this country support the idea of giving parents that kind of freedom. And so this legislation is going to continue to advance at the state level. At the national level, we’re going to continue to push this conversation, and to encourage our lawmakers to look at ways that they can encourage it both in their states, and take steps nationally that will help parents be free to make those decisions for their kids.
Not surprisingly, nobody mentioned DeVos’ 60 Minutes debacle. But unfortunately for her and the Trump lickspittles, it’s not likely to be forgotten any time soon.
Watch the attempted rehab session below, from the March 12, 2018 Fox & Friends.
(Transcript excerpts via Media Matters)
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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