Big Money corrupts our political system with its campaign contributions, public relations campaigns, insider access, and other means of drowning out the voices of ordinary people.The media is supposed to be our democracy’s guardian against this onslaught of money.

But last week Fox Business abdicated its responsibility to cut through the lies of Big Money. It featured Steve Gunderson, CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU), the chief lobbying group of the for-profit college industry. I’ve embedded the segment below:

 

The segment Gunderson appeared in focused on the “Rising Problem of Student Loan Debt.” Although the host noted that “there’s a lot of blame placed on the soaring cost of private sector (for-profit) schools,” he then uncritically allowed Gunderson to tout his industry’s agenda and defend its subprime schools, many of which have high prices, high dropout rates, and high levels of student loan defaults.

“The private schools have actually held their (cost) increase down because we’ve always been private,” said Gunderson. “So we haven’t been dependent on the public subsidies.”

The APSCU lobbyist’s claim is wildly inaccurate. Although these for-profit schools, unlike state public universities, don’t generally receive state government support, many are almost entirely dependent on federal government support. The largest schools in his industry get up to 90 percent of their revenues from federal Department of Education loans and grants, and even more money from military and veterans education aid. If anything, the industry would be unable to exist in its current form without public subsidies.

Rather than correcting or challenging Gunderson, the Fox host simply played along. “The latest survey I saw was that 72 percent for the state schools, 29 percent for the privates. Pretty impressive,” he said of tuition increases at both public and private universities.

The problem with this statistic is that it is comparing private and public universities, not non-profit schools to for-profit schools like those that Gunderson represents. Harvard and the University of Georgia are private and public schools, respectively, and neither are for-profit. By conflating the terms, Fox made it easier for the industry to defend itself.

The chyron that the network ran during Gunderson’s appearance was just as deceptive — it read “Gunderson: private colleges serve more than 3m students.” Again, the topic being discussed is not private schools, but for-profit colleges.

Fox Business did a real disservice to its audience by allowing Gunderson to make deceptive claims unchallenged — indeed abetted by the Fox host. One group that will no doubt appreciate this is the corporate lobbyists at APSCU.  (To her credit, Fox Business’s Gerri Willis has asked hard questions about this industry on her own Fox Business show.)

It’s hard to understand why the conservative Fox network, supposedly committed to smaller government, would cheerlead for the widespread waste, fraud, and abuse at taxpayer expense engaged in by Gunderson’s industry.  But perhaps what matters is that the Republican Party of John Boehner and Mitt Romney has forged a strong tie with this industry and receives extensive campaign contributions from its members, and that Fox gets its talking points from the party and its lobbyists.

 

Filed under: Media Integrity

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  • Steve Macintyre

    The problem with current private colleges like those owned by EDMC like the Art Institute charge YALE prices for substandard education that doesn’t even compete with free information gleaned from the web. I went expecting to be trained for the highly competitive field of entertainment art and animation and instead was given a highly pedantic and surface-scratching overview of time-wasting subjects and not enough real hands mentoring/training. Everything is based on text from books freely available from any bookstore and some of the online lectures even went so far as to reference free web tutorials for the meat of 3d modeling program! I put myself in over 100k debt for this? I demand a refund and these ‘schools’ torn down and those responsible behind bars because this is criminal fraud.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHZO25JZG6AONOHE65YWZ62I3I HeXt

    The only role these scum play is ripping off students. Lol @ him saying they hold their costs down. They’ve been rising as fast as they can every time they can.

  • Steve Macintyre

    The last scummy thing they did was introduce mandatory ebooks that cost 75 dollars each. They claimed it was to save students money. The average cost for my books was approximately 50 -70 dollars per quarter because I could buy books from 5-20 dollars each. There is absolutely NO way to opt out of the ebook system. Students are forced to “save money”.

  • CatKinNY

    OMG! Fox News lying to it’s viewers to shill for private industry? Zaid, Fox campaigns for Republicans only because Republicans are much more likely to cut taxes for the wealthy and cut regulations that prevent industry from poisoning the atmosphere than are Democrats. International oligarchs like Rupert Murdoch are post partisan; hell, they’re post national. It’s ironic that the tin foil hat wearing paranoids who believe there is a left wing, UN plot to create a New World Order run from a Bauhaus monstrosity on the east side, hell bent on taking away their freedom, get all their TV news from a right wing organization, run from a beautiful building on the west side, hell bent on taking away their freedom, and all their money. Oh well, at least they got the city right.

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