February 08, 2017 | by T. Becket Adams
Congratulations, Washington Post.
You win the award for the dumbest headline of the day.
The Post’s the Answer Sheet blog published an article Tuesday titled, “She’s a billionaire who said schools need guns to fight bears. Here’s what you may not know about Betsy DeVos.”
The story opens by reminding you again that the charter school advocate is a billionaire, and it lists the following details as things “you probably know” about her already, including:
*She is a billionaire [author’s note: Including the headline, this is third time in fewer than 54 words that this is mentioned in story].
*She supports charter schools and vouchers.
*She said that schools should be allowed to have guns to protect from “potential grizzlies.”
*She never went to public school. Neither did her children.
The Post tweeted the blog post later from its official Twitter account.
This is a garbage headline, and here’s why:
DeVos’ confirmation as the next education secretary was extraordinarily contentious, as Democratic lawmakers and teachers unions argued repeatedly that she was not smart enough or qualified enough for the position.
To their first argument, that she is not smart enough to head the Department of Education, several DeVos critics seized on a moronic narrative alleging she supports policies that would allow guns in schools because teachers need to fend off bears.
If that sounds too idiotic to believe, that’s because it’s not quite what she said.
My Washington Examiner colleague Jason Russell tackled this stupid story when it first appeared in mid-January after DeVos’ Senate confirmation hearing.
Asked by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Ct., whether she supported federal policies that would allow guns in schools, she responded by saying she doesn’t think the issue should be left up to Washington. She argued that states and localities are best suited to make these judgements, and she said federal policies tend to overlook the individual needs of individual schools.
This is what DeVos said: “I think that’s best left for states and locales to decide. I would refer back to Senator Enzi, and the school he was talking about in [Wyoming].”
“I would imagine there, that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” she added.
As Russell noted at the time, what she said is hardly the same thing as saying she thinks all schools should be armed against possible bear attacks.
“First of all, DeVos did not say that we need guns in all of our schools, or even in any of our schools. She said it shouldn’t be the federal government’s place to decide,” Russell wrote. “She used grizzlies in rural areas as one example for why a school might choose to have guns. By no means did she suggest that urban or suburban schools should have guns to protect them from grizzlies.”
“If Murphy wouldn’t have cut her off, perhaps she’d have given some reasonable examples of why guns might be needed in suburban or urban schools. Either way, she made it clear she thinks it’s a decision for state and local governments to make,” he added.
Unfortunately for DeVos, a narrative is extraordinarily hard to correct once it takes flight. Case in point: It’s Feb. 7, and professional newsrooms like the Post are still pushing the particularly insipid DeVos-is-scared-of-bear-attacks-in-schools line.
It could be worse, though. The paper could have published an op-ed arguing that voting for DeVos is the same thing as voting to re-segregate U.S. schools.
The U.S. Senate confirmed DeVos as the next Secretary of Education Tuesday by a vote of 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.