Accuracy in Media


Vox.com allowed writer Kate Wagner to engage in an extensive ad hominem attack on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in an article headlined “Betsy DeVos’s summer home deserves a special place in McMansion Hell.”

The article, which calls DeVos a vampire that enjoys mocking poor people — among other insults — is filled with sarcasm and lacks any sort of balance expected from a news outlet that attempts to bill itself as a substantive, thoughtful platform to explain the news.

“Two weeks ago, somebody untied Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s $40 million yacht from its mooring,” Wagner starts. “It got me thinking about another opulent display of wealth owned by DeVos: her 22,000-square-foot nautical-themed summer mansion, located in Holland, Michigan. Just a few more years of climate change and it’ll be floating too … Trump official and fellow rich person DeVos just rolled back Obama administration loan forgiveness rules for students defrauded by for-profit colleges. It’s unsurprising that she doesn’t want to forgive the student loan debts of those defrauded by for-profit colleges considering that she got her net worth of more than $1 billion from her husband’s company, the multilevel marketing giant Amway, which is often described as a cult. Meanwhile, her brother Erik Prince owns the Blackwater firm, which essentially sells mercenaries. As we can see, we are not dealing with nice people.”

Vox allows Wagner to engage in typical class warfare and offers no countering voice on the question of for-profit colleges, which have received unequal scrutiny under the Obama administration, relative to public colleges.

“In America, the rich get richer, and the poor have to beg the federal government to forgive the debts they owe to predatory for-profit colleges run by the rich who keep on getting richer,” Wagner writes. “What do the rich do with all their money? Build horrific monstrosities with eight dishwashers and dismantle the public school system.”

Rather than engage in a substance-filled policy analysis of DeVos’ education policies, and the rationale for administration decisions, Wagner admits the snarky article is based on Wagner’s own insecurities and inability to find sufficient market demand to successfully put her graduate degree to use. She identifies herself at Vox as a freelance writer who is “$42,000 in student loan debt for her MA in architectural acoustics from Johns Hopkins University.”

“As someone who owes tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, getting paid to make fun of DeVos’s tacky seaside decor is one of few ways to both feed myself and make myself feel better,” Wagner writes. “With that, I’d like to dedicate this essay to all of the public school teachers who taught me how to write.”

 




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