comScore Watch Education Sec. Betsy DeVos Totally Skate in Softball Interview Day After College Admissions Scandal

Watch Education Sec. Betsy DeVos Totally Skate in Softball Interview Day After College Admissions Scandal

One day after the FBI implicated 50 people, including notable actresses and business titans, in a sweeping college admissions scandal, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared on Fox News and offered absolutely zero in the way of explanation, answers, or anything meaningful at all.

Visiting with Dana Perino for a four-and-a-half minute in-person sit down at the Fox News Washington bureau, Devos could only manage to spout platitudes in the face of questioning which could charitably be described as less than rigorous.

We do not know the degree to which the Department of Education was culpable in this scandal, if at all. But just imagine if a major stock scam was exposed. The Securities and Exchange Commission would be responsible for assuaging investor concerns and restoring confidence to the market. So too was it incumbent upon the Education department, Wednesday, to convince skeptical parents that they’re doing everything they can to ensure a fair college admissions process.

DeVos simply did not do that.

Here is a transcription of the first 90 seconds of the chat, in which the scandal was discussed:

Dana Perino: So when this broke yesterday, knowing you were going to be on the show I wondered, is there a Federal government role to play aside from the FBI? Can the Department of Education do anything to assure that the system is not rigged?

Betsy DeVos: Dana, thanks. First of all, let me just say students need to be considered on merit. And this, as former secretary [Bill] Bennett said, plays into the narrative about things just not being fair for everyone. We are still researching and looking into how the department might interface with this. Obviously, this is a Department of Justice operation, but we are looking very closely at it, and we’ll see if any of the regulations that we are responsible for have been broken.

Perino: Do you hear a lot complaints about these elite colleges with legacy? If your parents went there and they’re wealthy, then you’re more likely to be able to get into these colleges. And the frustration from other parents who spend their entire adult lives thinking how they’re going to pay for college for their kids?

DeVos: This is a matter that all Americans want things to be fair. And they’re clearly not. This goes to K-12 education as well. And we don’t have the same opportunities for all students in K-12 education, we don’t in higher education. And that’s one of the things this administration is really advocating for. Equal opportunity for all students.

Perino: I can understand that, right? So if you fall behind, or if you feel like you’re not getting the opportunities that others have, the more privileged have, when you’re in junior high and high school, so your chances of catching up — So I can understand the frustration, right? These parents are saying —

DeVos: Yeah.

Perino: — ‘We have done everything right for our kids.’ They work their tails off, and here are these people. So the Justice Department goes after them. And I’m sure that you will be paying close attention to it.

DeVos: Absolutely.

That’s it. No further follow-ups. From there, Perino moved on to allow DeVos to promote a budget proposal to increase funding for professional development for teachers.

The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) mission statement reads as follows:

ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

So ensuring equal access is a major part of the education department’s reason for being. On Tuesday, the FBI shattered any idea that college admission is stacked against those who aren’t rich and famous. That seems like a massive breach of whatever regulations the department does or does not have in place. None of this was addressed.

DeVos has been atop the department since Feb. 7, 2017. And so, when she says that things are “clearly not” fair, it seems more than reasonable to question what the department has done under her leadership to level the playing field. She’s had two years to try to correct the issues.

Let’s concede that Perino was clearly limited by time here — a plight any interviewer can sympathize with. She had less than five minutes. She also had a pre-arranged topic. The Daily Briefing host was obviously operating under constraints.

But with a case this big, that doesn’t matter. You’ve got to press. If that means blowing off the pre-determined topic, or extending the interview, or canceling altogether, then that’s what has to happen. Instead, Betsy DeVos skated with a few bits of meaningless drivel — without any pushback to speak of.

Fox News has bristled at the New Yorker‘s suggestion of a symbiotic relationship between the network and President Donald Trump‘s administration. A tough interview with a top Cabinet official could have helped temper that criticism. Sadly, the opportunity was missed.

Watch above, via Fox News.

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo