By Glenn Bogart, J.D.
Bloomberg, a well-known financial news agency, blew it recently.
They published online a video of an interview they did with Mark Kantrowitz, who is a well-known expert on federal student aid issues. The publication date was August 8, 2010.
This interview, which can be seen here:http://www.bloomberg.com/video/62237992/, includes a graphic in which Kantrowitz is "quoted" as saying that for-profit universities "unfairly target low-income students." Kantrowitz said nothing of the kind in the video, and he confirmed in response to an e-mail from me that he never said that. He did note that for-profit schools generally enroll more low-income students than other types of institutions, and that this may explain generally lower student-loan repayment rates at the for-profits. That’s absolutely true. But he said nothing about "targeting," much less "unfairly targeting."
Indeed, given the need for proprietary schools to generate at least 10 percent of their tuition revenue from non-Title IV sources under what is known as the 90-10 rule, it would not just be ‘unfair" for a proprietary school to "target" low-income students (many of whom pay all of their tuition with Title IV funds, thus generating none of the needed "10 percent" money) — it would be suicidal. So of course Kantrowitz didn’t say what Bloomberg quoted him as saying. He’s not stupid.
It may be that by the time you look at the video, the misquoting graphic has been corrected. But as of August 22, 2010, the video still was as I have described it.
A few days earlier, I wrote to Bloomberg to let them know that they had misquoted Kantrowitz in the video. Kantrowitz indicated to me that he had also let Bloomberg know that the graphic was inaccurate, but as of this writing, it has not been corrected.
One wonders how this occurred, whether it has been corrected by the time you are reading this, or not.
In the interview, Kantrowitz did not in any way slam proprietary schools. I did not detect a single lie or dishonest spin on the part Mark Kantrowitz, and that is what I would expect of this highly reputable expert. Kantrowitz presented information in a perfectly straightforward manner, the burden of which was that there are now, for the first time, more dollars owed in student loans than dollars owed on credit cards. He had nothing to say that was derogatory toward proprietary schools, even though the interviewer was working hard to get him to do that.
Bloomberg didn’t let that stop them from presenting an outrageous mischaracterization of what Kantrowitz actually said, by displaying a lying “quotation” in a written banner displayed across the screen. Even if they later corrected the video presentation on their website, the damage was done, for most people who saw this video probably saw it in its original version, with the lying quote prominently displayed for all to see. Probably the thing was shown on Bloomberg’s cable TV channel, too, in its original, misleading version.
Gotta wonder: Why did Bloomberg present this flat-out lie in the graphic accompanying its video of the interview with Kantrowitz?
Goes to show you, I guess, that for some in the press, if an interviewee won’t take the bait and say what they want him to say, they will just misquote him so that the story they want will be the story they get. I wish I had some stock in Bloomberg, so I could dump it.