Passionate Republican voters, we need to talk about the mainstream media’s coverage of President Joe Biden’s unprecedented attempt to shift $400 billion in federal student loans from borrowers to taxpayers. The coverage was not only biased, but it also failed to acknowledge key objections.
Last August, President Biden announced he intended to use executive action to cancel up to $20,000 per borrower in federal student loan debt. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden claimed he could unilaterally act via a novel reading of the 2003 HEROES Act.
Recently, a study was conducted to examine how five major newspapers — the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal — covered the story. The results were alarming.
The coverage was heavily tilted in the White House’s favor and generally ignored significant concerns raised by critics. Supportive quotes dramatically outnumbered skeptical ones, by 62% to 24% — a pattern far out of line with public sentiment.
More than two-thirds of all quotes were provided by Democratic officials, progressive advocates, or borrowers, while less than one-fifth were offered by policy or legal experts (just 12% were provided by Republican officials or taxpayer advocates).
When public officials were quoted on Biden’s proposal, Democrats accounted for 81% of quotes; Republicans just 19%. In other words, on a high-profile, polarizing debate in a closely divided nation, news accounts quoted Democratic officials more than four times as often as Republican officials. In fact, Biden administration sources accounted for more than half of all quotes from public officials.
Even setting aside this massive pro-White House bias, non-administration. Democrats still accounted for 57% of quotes from public officials.
For instance, Virginia Foxx, the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee and perhaps the most outspoken critic of the White House proposal, was quoted just four times — while Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Biden ally who wasn’t even on the Senate’s education committee, was quoted seven.
When it came to substance, news accounts paid remarkably little attention to the legality, fairness, or potential inflationary impact of the White House proposal. Just 34% of news accounts even alluded to concerns about its regressive nature, 24% its inflationary impact, and only 6% that those who’d borrowed for graduate or professional degrees were also eligible.
There has been much lamentation about declining trust in media, especially on the right. But news accounts of the most expensive executive action in history, a move that entailed President Biden side-stepping Congress to hand out a half-trillion dollars on a whim, drew the kind of fawning coverage seemingly calculated to aggravate polarization and fuel skepticism.
Responsible coverage doesn’t quote the White House and its allies so much more frequently than the critics and takes care to at least acknowledge key objections. If the mainstream media wonders why it’s so distrusted across the American right, the coverage of Biden’s loan forgiveness scheme is an instructive case in point.
Passionate Republican voters, we deserve balanced and accurate coverage of political issues, not biased reporting that ignores key objections.
The media’s slanted coverage of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is an example of how mainstream media fails the nation and fuels skepticism. It’s time to demand better from the media and hold them accountable for their actions.