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Fox News hosts accidentally forget they are supposed to be against free college

After weeks of mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) plan to cancel college debt, Fox is now cheering a philanthropist's move to do so.

Robert F. Smith gives the commencement address at Morehouse College on Sunday.
Robert F. Smith gives the commencement address at Morehouse College on Sunday. (Photo credit: Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) recently unveiled a plan to help give young people and their families a leg up by cancelling much of their college debt. Fox News has aired a series of segments talking down the popular idea as unrealistic and unfair to the privileged who have already paid their tuition in full.

But the hosts of FOX and Friends accidentally contradicted that argument on Monday when they did a jubilant segment cheering a billionaire philanthropist’s announcement that he would pay off the entire student loan debt for Morehouse College’s class of 2019.

Robert F. Smith, a private equity investor and honorary degree recipient at Sunday’s commencement at the all-male historically black college in Atlanta, surprised his fellow graduates with the news that he and his family would personally pay off the student loan debt for the entire graduating class. The gesture is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

On Fox News on Monday morning, the hosts celebrated this as “good news.”

Host Brian Kilmeade noted that one graduating student with $45,000 in debt was the son of a banking examiner who expected to have to work 10 more years to pay off the loans. “All of a sudden, his dad says, ‘I can basically retire,'” Kilmeade opined. “I think it’s great.”

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Host Ainsley Earhardt jokingly noted that for those families who had not taken out loans and had already paid tuition in full. “They’d be like, ‘Shoot! Shouldn’t have paid it!'”

“That’s losing the spirit of it, Ainsley,” mock-scolded Kilmeade. And Earheart agreed. “How wonderful is that?” she exulted.

But if they’d been watching their own network in recent weeks, they’d have seen that exact argument being made to dismiss Warren’s plan to reduce student loan debt for tens of millions of other Americans.

Her proposal would cancel up to $50,000 in student debt for up those in households earning less than $100,000 a year and a smaller amount for those in households making $250,000 or less.

In an April FOX & Friends First segment, Fox News regular Peter Morici slammed the presidential candidate’s plan as unrealistic. An accompanying story on the network’s website quoted two Twitter users who did not like the idea, under the headline “Warren’s massive $640 billion student loan cancellation questioned over fairness to students who paid off their debts.”

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On FOX & Friends, a guest finance professor complained, “She wants to forgive loans for people who have loans now. She is not talking about folks who paid their loans off in the past and sitting there and thinking what a chump I am that I paid off my loans. That’s a big problem.”

And in a Fox News online opinion piece, contributor Britt McHenry suggested that people struggling with student loan debts are less responsible — and less American — than she is. “Instead of just wiping out all debt, (which many Americans, including this writer, have responsibly paid off), offer a gradual work-towards-forgiveness program that applies to a larger swath of people than just public service workers. In America, we work for what we have. We earn it based on a philosophy of merit and not cancellation handouts. Warren took a stab at fixing a looming crisis, but she hit far from the mark.”

And indeed Earhardt herself attacked Warren’s proposal last month. “What about all the people who worked really hard to pay off their student debt loans and they’ve already done it? Or my dad who worked three jobs to put all three kids through college?  Does he get his money back?” she asked Fox Business’ Stuart Varney.

“You’re out of luck,” responded Varney.