The coverage was similar across the four media outlets. It focused on the generosity of the DeVos gift with little else of substance. The Grand Rapids Press cited Grand Rapids Christian Schools Superintendent Tom DeJonge who said that the donation was “absolutely astounding” and “incredibly generous.” WOOD TV reported that the DeVos family “was not seeking any personal glory.”
By focusing exclusively on the “altruism” and “philanthropy” of the donation, the local media missed an opportunity to address a much bigger story–how the DeVos family has used its vast fortune to undermine and delegitimize public education. Over the years, Richard and Helen DeVos have given millions of dollars to private schools and political efforts aimed at increasing state support for private schools. Their family–particularly Dick and Betsy DeVos–have also been active in this effort.
While it may be true that the two were “not seeking personal glory,” their donation is certainly motivated by a specific ideological goal. This is rarely mentioned in the media, instead we are told to see the DeVoses as simply generous and selfless billionaires. However, how they have used their money–from supporting Christian schools to Republican politicians–clearly shows that they have specific political goals.