Via America’s Lawyer: Nearly two dozen states sue education secretary Betsy DeVos for failing to protect students against predatory loans and for-profit colleges. Mike Papantonio is joined by Brigida Santos to discuss more. Plus, just days after being assigned the case investigating Deutsche Bank’s involvement with the late Jeffrey Epstein, a federal judge’s family is shot and killed. Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to discuss.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: Twenty-two state attorney generals have sued the US education secretary for siding with profit over school’s best interest. RT’s Brigida Santos joins me now with the story. Brigida, what States are taking Betsy DeVos to the court and let me, let me preface it by saying, you know, I don’t know how many stories in the last two months we’ve done on Betsy DeVos, but she is like a magnet for really ugly stuff. And I’m just wondering which States had the courage to say, you know, not on my watch. Talk to me about it.

Brigida Santos: Well, the lawsuit is being led by the attorneys general of California and Massachusetts with other AGs joining from the district of Columbia and 20 other States, including Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia, New York and more. The coalition is challenging a 2019 rule rewrite by education secretary, Betsy DeVos, that makes it almost impossible for students who have been defrauded by for profit colleges to have their federal student loans canceled. The 2019 rule rolls back key Obama era borrower defense to repayment protections that offered students relief from federal loans that were borrowed based on the fraudulent, misleading or illegal claims of higher education institutions. Because students can no longer use violations of state consumer protection laws as a defense in their student loan forgiveness cases, predatory universities are now shielded from nearly all accountability.

Mike Papantonio: Well, there’s more to that story. I heard you talk about, you know, Obama came forward with an idea for it, but you understand that the backstory on that. The backstory is that you used to be able to take use bankruptcy court. If you were working, you were trying to pay it off and you just couldn’t pay it off, you had some protection with bankruptcy court. Well, Obama during his years as a Senator, voted against that and provided bankruptcy protection that closed the door for students to be able to have protection from these re, you know, from, from being dogged every day of their life to have this thing paid back. So there’s a lot more to this story than this surface. What scams have for profit colleges engaged in? In other words, the, they, they, they, they gauge, I mean, they, they engage in scams. Then the student comes out sometimes without a degree at all, and they still have to pay back this loan. That’s the typical kind of story, isn’t it?

Brigida Santos: Yeah. And there’s so many of these scams, but this lawsuit particularly highlights some of the scams by proprietary universities, including enrolling students in professional certification programs that actually lack accreditation that’s needed for students to obtain licenses in their profession when they’re done with school, while failing to disclose that information to students. It also outlines how the for profit school industry is prone to abusing it’s access to taxpayer funded title four aid, which these proprietary colleges heavily rely on in order to generate money. One reason the Obama administration implemented the 2015 rule after voting against it previously was because years of investigations exposed how for profit schools, including ITT tech, DeVry, Corinthian colleges, and so on, have long defrauded students out of that money.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. So you see these advertisements. Can you draw this stick figure, if you are, you’re going to be the next Renoir. You probably want to come to our college and we’re going to get you this degree. And after we get this degree, we’re going to get you a job and you’re going to be making a ton of money. That was always the come on, come on and become a, become a nurse, come on and become a doctor’s assistant, become a paralegal and most of absolute scams. But nevertheless, at the end of the day, they had to, they had to pay those loans back. Talk about the victims of predatory colleges and universities. How is this new law really going to impact them?

Brigida Santos: Sure. Proprietary colleges target their marketing to veterans, the unemployed and people from low income and minority communities. They claim to offer accessible and career-focused degree and certificate programs to people who might not have the opportunity to enter traditional colleges, which have gotten only more expensive every year. Students choose these schools because they’re eager to learn new skills so they can successfully join the workforce and achieve the American dream. They’re really trying here. But if the gov, the government department that’s tasked with helping students allows private companies to continue to defraud them with impunity, society is absolutely going to suffer as a whole.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. So what happens is the justice department doesn’t do their job. They don’t prosecute for fraud. They should prosecute for fraud. They’re, they, they don’t do what they’re supposed to do and so the student gets sucked into it. DOJ is with the federal government, right? So then student comes through the program and the student says, look, I got to get, I can’t pay this loan and the federal government says, you know what? You’re going to be responsible anyway. It’s a terrible, terrible story for the student from beginning to end. Brigida, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos: Thanks Mike.

Mike Papantonio: Deutsche bank investors are suing the company and CEO for their financial ties to the late Jeffrey Epstein and just a days ago, the case was assigned to a judge who ended up, his family ended up being murdered.

Mollye Barrows: Wow.

Mike Papantonio: But you know what, has nothing to do with the story.

Mollye Barrows: Right.

Mike Papantonio: Epstein has nothing to do with this story. Deutsche bank has nothing to do with this story. But all of a sudden, you know, it’s this immediate magnet, you know, this has gotta be connected. We gotta have a good story for the nightly news. This guy’s a nutcase, okay.

Mollye Barrows: Right.

Mike Papantonio: He’s a nutcase.

Mollye Barrows: And he’s a dead one.

Mike Papantonio: He’s a dead nutcase. So talk about it. But to me, it’s so bothersome when you see the media always trying to, trying to corner a story where it doesn’t belong. This is one of those situations.

Mollye Barrows: No, you’re exactly right. I think it boils down to clickbait. Anything to do with Epstein draws people’s attention. They want to know anything about him and what’s connected to it because it’s such a rabbit hole of who did he know? Did he blackmail people, this, that, and the other. So if they can take a high profile case like this, which had a loose connection, if you will, a tenuous connection to the Epstein case, I feel like that’s why the media went ahead and played it up.

Mike Papantonio: Doesn’t that bother?

Mollye Barrows: Of course it bothers me.

Mike Papantonio: You come from, you come from 25 years as an anchor.

Mollye Barrows: Yes, yes.

Mike Papantonio: I mean, I, it’s just to me, it’s incensing that nobody sits back and says, look, let me call balls and strikes here. This doesn’t have to do with Epstein. It has to do with a lawyer who was a nut job.

Mollye Barrows: Right. He was all over social media claiming to be a Trump supporter. Self-proclaimed anti-feminist who is supporting men’s causes. And in fact, authorities are now reporting that when they searched his car, they found the name and picture of another woman judge. So they don’t know if she was potential target as well, but it seemed like this guy was a loose cannon, walked up to this judge’s door, Esther Salas her son, 20 year old son answered the door. Her husband was right behind him. Both were shot. The son died. He, the attorney was dressed in a FedEx uniform. He took off and then later killed himself, shot himself in the head. And his name was Roy Den Hollander. And so the, you know, basically the investigation had zeroed in on him. They don’t think there’s any connection to Epstein, but initially the reports were, hey, this judge Esther Salas who had been assigned the lawsuit, this ongoing lawsuit against Deutsche bank just two weeks before she was shot. And that lawsuit has to do with investors going after the bank not having proper standards and allowing, you know, basically money laundering to happen. Like with Epstein.

Mike Papantonio: Deutsche bank needs to be sued. Okay.

Mollye Barrows: Yes, I agree.

Mike Papantonio: Deutsche bank, you know, there was this whole.

Mollye Barrows: It’s enabling these predators.

Mike Papantonio: It’s, it’s a, but here’s the point. This guy didn’t go shoot anybody because of Deutsche banker or Epstein. Look, my memory as I looked at these, at the background of this guy. He was, he was a big Trumpster. Hated, hated women. He must’ve hate, didn’t he have another picture of another female judge that he was going to shoot?

Mollye Barrows: That’s exactly right. They found it in his car.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. So, so we, we’ve got this character that just isn’t wired right. And he’s, he’s the same guy I think that sued CNN and MSNBC for their fake news. Granted, it is a lot of fake news, but the chances of him winning in a lawsuit was almost, it was inconceivable. So here’s this complicated character and rather than the media stepping up and reporting the news, they come up with their narrative.

Mollye Barrows: No, you’re exactly right and it’s irresponsible reporting. And it goes to show, when you hear stories like that, they haven’t done the vetting. They are trying to do what I call, click bait. Basically get as many viewers and eyes and, you know, because that’s how they make their money. If people are watching, if they can say we’ve got so many people watching or so many people following us online, then they can charge X amount for their advertisers. And you can tell a lot by the different news organizations of who’s doing that. Are they just running with any sort of claim that’s half-heartedly investigated just so they can get people talking about it? And it’s not credible journalism when you have real stories that should be investigated.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. When did you start, when did you start as an anchor in the news?

Mollye Barrows: Goodness. It was like in the mid nineties. I feel like I should mumble that.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Yeah, okay. So, so we had 24 hour news around, but when we have, 24 hours of news created what we’re talking about here.

Mollye Barrows: Well, I watched the transition.

Mike Papantonio: First out, how do you get out first? What’s your narrative?

Mollye Barrows: Yeah. And that’s the transition that I watched. When I first, I tell this story to people, when I first started, when I graduated college and started my first television job in 1996, it was cut your hair short, don’t wear no cleavage, no fitted clothing, no dangly earrings. You got to be professional. You got to walk, talk and act like a professional, like a man in a lot of ways. By the time I left that particular position, I still continued to report, but that Fox news business model of hot chicks and short skirts and fitted clothes was the model. And I was told you gotta wear fitted clothes. We don’t want facts and stories, and I’m not making that up. They wanted all person on the street reaction as opposed to.

Mike Papantonio: Like this.

Mollye Barrows: Taking the time to dig in because it’s a dying news model, your average, everyday nightly news. And so they, again, they just want people to watch. And if they can feed you what you already believe, or if they can hit these sensational little segments with a hot chick telling it to you or a handsome per, a handsome man for that matter. But what I’m saying is it’s definitely it’s icing on the cake as opposed to digging into dinner and telling people what they need to know.

Mike Papantonio: Right. They only corrected this, they got back on track on this story only after being shamed. That’s the only thing that saved them here.

Mollye Barrows: No, you’re exactly right. And that’s why it’s so important for people to be educated viewers. And maybe that’s a pie in the sky dream, but I think people have to have a little bit of responsibility on themselves to realize news is a business for most of these outlets.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, yeah.

Mollye Barrows: And they’re going to sell you whatever they can to keep you coming back for more. And if that includes myth juice and misconceptions, they have no problem with that.

Mike Papantonio: Mollye Barrows, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Mollye Barrows: Thanks, Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.