DeVos Vs. DeVos

Fox and The New York Times show two biased views about the newly confirmed Education Secretary

After heated debates between Democratic and Republican Senators, the Senate’s vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary ended with a 50–50 tie, with Vice President Mike Pence ultimately confirming her with a tie-breaking vote. DeVos is a wealthy Republican advocate for school choice, voucher programs, and charter schools. Both The New York Times and Fox News reported on this vote and DeVos’s recent political history, but these two outlets took two very different approaches. Each used methods such as diction, stacking, and gatekeeping to depict her as either a decent, qualified candidate or the destructor of the American education system.

Right from the get-go, The New York Times showed its condemning views toward DeVos. The author put specific pieces of information at the beginning of the article that negatively portrayed DeVos. This quote placed at the beginning is of Senator Lisa Murkowski expressing her displeasure with DeVos: “I have serious concerns about a nominee to be secretary of education who has been so involved in one side of the equation… that she may be unaware of what actually is successful within the public schools.” The fact that this is the first quote shows that this author is placing more importance on it than what other people had to say. One can infer that the author agrees with what Murkowski was saying. Additionally, the words used by the author also show his or her political leanings. Phrases like, “almost no experience in public education,” and , “lack of basic understanding,” depict DeVos as an ignorant, unqualified nominee, and it becomes easy to tell how this author feels about DeVos. Also, the Fox article included something that this New York Times article did not: a quote from Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority Leader. He said, “It seems this gridlock and opposition has far less to do with the nominees actually before us than the man who nominated them.” Whether this accusation is true or not, it does beg the question of why was this not included in The New York Times article? Could it undermine their unspoken political stance? Definitely.

On a slightly more moderate tone, Fox depicted DeVos as a decent candidate for Education Secretary. The author stacked certain information that positively influenced DeVos’s image toward the beginning of the article. The first two speakers in the article were Vice President Pence and Lamar Alexander, a Republican Senator of from Tennessee and Senate education committee Chairman. Pence began buy saying that his tie-breaking vote was, “the easiest vote (he) ever cast.” Alexander continued by saying DeVos, “led the most effective school reform movement of the last 30 years.” These are pretty impressive statements that show how qualified DeVos is, and they were stacked at the beginning of the article, showing that the author wanted more readers to read those particular quotes. Also, The author used particular phrases when describing DeVos in an attempt to make the point that DeVos was a fitting choice for the position. The author said Democrats were, “ slow-walking DeVos and other qualified nominees to placate liberal base voters who still haven’t come to terms with President Trump’s election.” This quote is subtle in implying that DeVos, like some other nominees, are completely qualified for their appointed positions while also making the point that liberals are antagonizing DeVos for no good reason. Lastly, this author left out critical information, information that many people hold against DeVos. While The New York Times talked extensively about DeVos’s many investments and possible conflicts of interest, the Fox article didn’t even bring any of that up. This information could cause readers to view DeVos in a negative light, so it speaks volumes that this author decided to exclude information.

After reading both articles, each news outlet’s political stances become clear. In this case, The New York Times emphasized anything and everything against DeVos. Fox, on the other hand, remained more neutral, but it still gave glimpses into its own political alignments. Each article could cause people to only see one side of the argument over DeVos, causing them to voice their support without knowing all of the facts. Reader beware.

The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/us/politics/betsy-devos-education-secretary-confirmed.html?_r=0

Fox News article: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/07/devos-confirmed-as-education-secretary-pence-casts-historic-tie-breaking-vote.html