How Mainstream Media Misled Readers with a Betsy DeVos Photo

Just Use a 'Trump Education Official' Headline

Yahoo! News published a headline on Friday about controversial statements by a “Trump education official” juxtaposed with a photo of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — but the comments weren’t made by DeVos.

The story centered around a comment made by Candice Jackson, who leads the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, given during an interview with the New York Times. Jackson was quoted on the subject of campus sexual assault allegations and the frequency of false allegations. The quote in question reads:

“[Usually, there’s] not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman,” Jackson said. “Rather, the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.'”

Rather than using a photo of Ms. Jackson, or naming her in the headline or story subtitle, the Yahoo! News headline seemed designed to imply that the comments were made by Secretary DeVos.

Yahoo Homepage with Education Offical Headline

The use of the DeVos photo next to “Trump education official” was also Tweeted by the New York Times. Like the Yahoo! headline, the Times’ Tweet neither mentions Ms. Jackson specifically, nor clarifies in a general sense that the comment was made by a lower-level official.

The Washington Post published an Associated Press version of the story with the headline “Education official apologizes anew,” above a large photo of Secretary DeVos, despite the fact that the headline referred to Ms. Jackson.

Betsy DeVos Photo on The Washington Post Website

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