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The business of Hollywood doesn’t often intersect with the world of academia, but it did last week when actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin were each charged with taking part in a college admissions cheating scheme that also ensnared dozens of alleged perpetrators beyond the entertainment business. Chris Hayes, who anchors MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes” weeknights at 8 p.m., has studied the causes of such behavior in his 2012 book, “Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy,” which argues that people in society’s top echelons have grown too divorced from those in its lower ranks, and so have become more easily corrupted. Below, in an interview with Variety that has been edited for space and clarity, Hayes examines what the college scandal says about America.
Why do you think the news of this case has resonated so intensely?
Something - Sort - Ludicrousness - Notion - Meritocracy
It expresses something about the sort of ludicrousness of the notion of American meritocracy, right? The idea that America is equitable and socially mobile, and people from many backgrounds can work their way to the top. But the data belies that point. America actually has a very low amount of intergenerational mobility. The best measure we have is that it’s lower than other big countries. … One of the engines we have always had of this American meritocracy is college admissions. But we know that it’s a fairly rigged system, even without the obviously blatant criminal behavior we are seeing. This just makes it so totally explicit in a way that reflects something profound about how the system is already working.
Do you think this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of discoveries about well-to-do people trying outlandish methods to get their kids into school?
Kid - Pretty
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