Flashback: Liberal media was enthusiastic over student loan handouts, but now may have buyer's remorse

Figures on CNN, MSNBC, 'The View' and more touted loan cancellation

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Left-leaning media have pointed out significant issues with President Biden’s student loan handout plan in recent days, yet prior to the announcement, several hosts and guests on liberal networks touted the idea and claimed it would change the lives of Americans. 

"Student loan forgiveness" has long been discussed in political and academic circles, but it particularly became a hot-button issue in the media as progressive Democrats, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as well as future President Biden, made it a key portion of their 2020 platforms.

In April 2019, CNN host Don Lemon, while discussing Warren’s comments on sexism in politics, referred to Warren as a Massachusetts Senator who "grabbed headlines" with a "bold new plan" to end student debt. 

Warren herself made numerous media appearances at the time, where she was treated to cushy interviews. Despite losing the primary, Warren has continued to voice her support for government handouts, hyping loan cancellations, universal healthcare and free college. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3, 2022 in Washington.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court on May 3, 2022 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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In one such interview a few months prior to the 2020 election, Warren joined CBS' "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in an attempt to sell the American public on Biden’s agenda. 

"He said he’s going to invest in childcare, in canceling student loan debt, that he’s going to expand Social Security…" Warren said, continuing to list off Biden’s campaign promises. 

Scratching his head, Colbert said he did not understand why "old-fashioned" Republicans took issue with Biden’s plans, claiming that all the things she had listed were synonymous with the goals of "middle of the road" Republican politics in the 1970s.

Warren also joined "The ReidOut" earlier this year, complimenting Biden for continuing to extend the student loan relief deadline while the country tried to move past the coronavirus pandemic. 

Stephen Colbert appears at the 73rd Emmy Awards on Sept. 19, 2021.

Stephen Colbert appears at the 73rd Emmy Awards on Sept. 19, 2021. (Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)

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While speaking on the possibility of loan cancellation, host Joy Reid claimed that people who were against taxpayer funded payouts to college attendees because they had already paid off their own loans were creating a "moral hazard argument against helping people."

As Biden's presidency has gone on, cries from progressive politicians and voters to cancel student debt have compounded, with some agitation stemming from network mouthpieces. 

In December, MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle engaged in a tense back-and-forth with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about Biden’s inability to get his policy passed in Congress. One point of contention was the stasis of student loan payouts. 

"What’s going to change in the next few months that’s going to impact student loans?" Ruhle asked. "It’s like you’re just kicking the can down the road. You’re going to cancel the student debt or not?"

Buttigieg ignored the question, instead focusing on pandemic-related issues.

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MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle

MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle (Getty Images)

During an April panel on MSNBC, anchor Katy Tur discussed the billions of dollars being sent over to Ukraine to fight off Russia. While she agreed such a decision was a good thing, she questioned why the U.S. had the cash to help other countries, but seemed reluctant to help Americans economically at home, referencing student loans. The conversation at one point pivoted to Biden’s stalled student loan plans, when the panel discussed how much money he could conceivably pay out. 

"The president, based on my reporting, is dug in," correspondent Geoff Bennett said. "He wants to keep this as close to $10,000—"

"Why!?" Tur exclaimed as she cut off Bennett. 

Tur’s excitement was only matched and exceeded by two prominent talk show hosts.

In July 2019, Samantha Bee, the former host of the since-canceled "Full Frontal," gave a lengthy monologue on student debt cancellation during the show. 

"Debt forgiveness is often derided as just a ploy to attract young people, but unlike my new TikTok account, it isn’t," Bee said. "We need student loan forgiveness now."

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Former TBS host Samantha Bee

Former TBS host Samantha Bee (Reuters)

Less than a month before Biden’s announcement that he would forgive up to $10,000 in student loans for Americans making under $125,000, and up to $20,000 for those who received Pell grants, "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg also touted the issue.

After reading the story of a woman in her 50s who borrowed $29,000 for NYU School of Law and now owes over $200,000 in her 90s, Goldberg became visibly angry. 

"You talk about people can’t buy gas, they can’t buy food, they can’t put their children through any kind of college — that’s because they’re paying off these freaking student debts," she said. 

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Goldberg added that those are the kind of debts "you need to forgive."

Nearly every major media organization has since become far more outspoken about serious issues surrounding Biden’s plan. Outlets like MSNBC, CNN, NBC and ABC have all acknowledged concerns about how much the plan would cost and who would pay for it. Pundits and guests have also questioned whether the plan is fair for Americans outside the umbrella of eligibility.