John Stossel is an ABC
reporter and (as of May 2003
), co-anchor of their newsprogram 20/20
with Barbara Walters
He graduated from Princeton University
with a BA
and worked his way up to the network via local stations in Portland
and New York City
. At ABC, he first worked on Good Morning America
and then became a fixture on 20/20
throughout the 1980s. In the 90s, he specialized in one hour prime time
news specials. He currently produces four of them a year with his own ABC production unit.
At first, he specialized in consumer reporting, exposing fraudulent and harmful products. In fact, he was the consumer editor for GMA and was honored five times by the National Press Club
for such reporting.
Then he embraced libertarianism
and his reporting took a 180 degree turn. He began to attack efforts to fight the very things he used to report on, employing the old libertarian
canard that everything the government does is bad and constantly sniping at regulations and taxes. Stossel hasn’t made any effort to disguise his bias
; in one interview he stated: "I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer. It is my job to explain the beauties of the free market
." Hardly a recipe for balanced journalism
Plenty of reporters have biases, but Stossel’s reports are regularly filled with poor or false information, quotes ripped out of context, and top heavy with sources on his side of the issue. The organic food
controversy that arose around his 2000
report "The Food You Eat" involved Stossel’s claim that organic and non-organic foods contained the same amount of pesticide
s. Stossel lied when he said that a test commissioned by ABC showed that result, when in fact no test for pesticide was done
, only for bacteria. Stossel was reprimanded and forced to retract the claim and apologize on the air.
This is only the tip of the iceberg:
, two ABC producers resigned in protest because their research on the cost-effectiveness and success of government regulations was dismissed as contrary to the ideological slant of the report "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?"
s "Is America
# One?", Stossel claimed that Hong Kong
was the only place in the world which had a budget surplus
when in fact 11 countries, including the US
, also had a surplus. The report was riddled with other errors, and one of the people quoted on camera, University of Texas economist James Galbraith
, complained that he was taken out of context
and his views misrepresented.
In a 1999 20/20 report, Stossel claimed that Parkinson’s disease
claims more lives than AIDS
in an effort to slander the AIDS lobby and prove his thesis that political clout and not science was behind the allocation of research funding at the National Institutes of Health
). This claim is blatantly false; AIDS is the 14th leading cause of death in America.
", a shameless celebration of exploitive robber baron
s and our baser excesses, Stossel claimed that factory wages were up 70% over the last 15 years. In fact, in raw numbers they were up only 55%, but when adjusted for inflation
, they actually fell
six percent. Almost no one appeared on camera to take issue with Stossel’s point of view.
There are many more examples (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
) has done some excellent work documenting and publicizing them) which have attracted years of criticism, yet ABC continues to air his reporting relatively unchallenged. Hopefully, the reprimand he received regarding the organic food report will mark the beginning of a trend toward more accurate and less biased journalism, but probably not as ABC has rewarded his work with a promotion to co-anchor of 20/20.
The most frightening thing about Stossel is his "Stossel in the Classroom" project funded by an obscure nonprofit foundation which is spoon-feeding his biased reporting to a new generation.