God bless 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl, the reporter who had to squint to properly process the unmitigated idiocy dribbling from Betsy DeVos’ mouth during an interview with the secretary of education Sunday night.
DeVos smiled and gave glib and at times false statements during the segment. At one point DeVos said, “We should be investing in students, not in school—school buildings,” as if students are somehow inseparable from the buildings they learn in. She also claimed that there were “lots of pockets” in Michigan where students were doing well when it was pointed out that education outcomes in her home state were on the declin
The entire time, Stahl appeared to be visibly restraining herself from rubbing her temples, throwing her interview cards up in the air and mouthing the words “This bitch” to her producer.
And the internet sure did notice.
DeVos, the country’s most useless white woman and a case study for how institutions both favor and are eroded by white mediocrity, became the literal face of clownery following the appalling interview.
Sunday night and Monday morning, Twitter users screenshotted DeVos’ tight, wide-eyed smiles and speculated about her internet search history, among other things.
It wasn’t lost on people that Stahl employed the exact same voice and demeanor of an exhausted teacher trying to show a particularly obtuse child the consequences of their actions.
Stahl: Betsy, how are your math grades?
DeVos: Great! There were pockets of question I could answer.
Stahl: Pockets of questions?
DeVos: Well, actually I had the answers in my pocket. So I could answer those.
Stahl: Betsy, you’re failing math.
DeVos: I could certainly be doing better, yes.
Stahl: Betsy, have you ever studied for a math test?
DeVos: I have never intentionally studied for a math test, no.
DeVos: [Continues gotdamn smiling.]
Stahl: Don’t you think you should?
While it’s fitting that DeVos, who has shown herself to be stunningly out of her depth since her confirmation hearings, should become the living personification of failure, it’s important to remember the very real danger she poses as the country’s top education administrator.
As the Detroit Free Press wrote in 2016, what she did to Michigan schools, where she has been involved in school reform for decades, was no laughing matter. Politico also succinctly captured the depth of DeVos’ failure (emphasis mine):
Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states: Michigan ranks near the bottom for fourth- and eighth-grade math and fourth-grade reading on a nationally representative test, nicknamed the “Nation’s Report Card.” Notably, the state’s charter schools scored worse on that test than their traditional public-school counterparts, according to an analysis of federal data.
The clown does come back to bite, and as long as DeVos continues to drive education policy, no matter how many awful, inept interviews she gives, it won’t be she who suffers the consequences.