John Stossel

John Stossel

Infobox Person
name = John Stossel

image_size = 250px
caption = John Stossel speaking at the Free State Project's New Hampshire Liberty Forum.
birth_date = birth date and age|mf=yes|1947|3|6
birth_place = Chicago Heights, Illinois, United States
death_date =
death_place =
education = B.A. in Psychology, Princeton University (1969)
occupation = Journalist, author
spouse =

John F. Stossel (born March 6, 1947) is a consumer reporter, investigative journalist, author, libertarian columnist, and co-anchor for the ABC News show "20/20". [cite news | url= | title=Excerpt: John Stossel's 'Give Me a Break' | publisher=ABC News |date=2007-02-27 | first=John | last=Stossel | accessdate =2007-04-13] Stossel began his journalism career as a researcher for KGW-TV and later became a consumer reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City before joining ABC News as consumer editor and reporter on "Good Morning America". Stossel went on to be an ABC News correspondent, joining the weekly news magazine program "20/20". In his decades as a reporter, Stossel has received numerous honors and awards. Stossel has also written two books entitled "Give Me a Break" and "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity".

Stossel practices advocacy journalism where he often challenges "conventional wisdom". His reports, a blend of commentary and reporting, reflect a roughly libertarian political philosophy and his views on economics are largely supportive of the free market. [" [ Interview with John Stossel] " at Francisco Marroquin University. Guatemala, January 2008] ABC is reported to believe "his reporting goes against the grain of the established media and offers the network something fresh and different... [but] makes him a target of the groups he offends." [cite web
url =
title = Apology Highlights ABC Reporter's Contrarian Image
accessdate = 2007-12-12
coauthors = Jim Rutenberg and Felicity Barringer
date = August 14, 2000
publisher = NY Times

Biography and work

Education and Early career

John Stossel was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, the second of two boyscite web|url= | title=John Stossel | publisher=Notable Names Database | accessdate=2007-09-24] and graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. He overcame a stuttering problem so he could become a reporter, and is now a supporter and advocate for The Stuttering Foundation. Stossel graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Psychology in 1969 and was a member of Princeton Tower Club while there. He began his journalism career as a researcher for KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon. He later became a consumer reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City before joining ABC News as consumer editor and reporter on "Good Morning America".

Personal life

Stossel is Jewish. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children. [cite web| url= | publisher=HarperCollins | title=John Stossel Biography| accessdate=2007-09-24] Max is attending Haverford College near Philadelphia. [Personal Interview with Max Stossel at Haverford.] John's older brother, Tom, is a doctor.


Stossel was named co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20" in May 2003. He joined the weekly news magazine program in 1981, initially as a correspondent. His "Give Me a Break" segments featured a skeptical look at subjects from government regulations and pop culture to censorship and unfounded fear. The series was spun off into a series of one-hour specials, beginning in 1994, with titles including "Stupid in America", "Are We Scaring Ourselves to Death?", "Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So", "Boys and Girls Are Different", "Freeloaders", "Greed", "Is America #1?", "You Can't Say That!", "Stossel Goes to Washington", "The Power of Belief", and "Sick in America".


Stossel has written two books. "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media" is an autobiography documenting his career and philosophical transition from liberalism to libertarianism. It describes his opposition to government regulation, his belief in free market and private enterprise, support for tort reform, and advocacy for shifting social services from the government to private charities. It was a New York Times bestseller for 11 weeks.cite web| url= | title=Columns by John Stossel | | accessdate=2007-09-24] "Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel — Why Everything You Know Is Wrong" questions the validity of various conventional wisdoms, and argues that the belief he is conservative is untrue.

With financial support from the libertarian Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Stossel and ABC News launched a series of educational materials for public schools in 1999 entitled " [ Stossel in the Classroom] ". [cite news| url= | title=Laissez-Faire TV | publisher=Media Transparency | last=Rose |first=Ted |date=2000-03 | accessdate=2007-09-24] In 2006, Stossel and ABC released "Teaching Tools for Economics", a video series based on the National Council of Economics Education standards. [cite news | url= | title=Teaching Tools for Economics from John Stossel | publisher=ABC News| date=2007-04-29 | accessdate=2007-09-24]

Public appearances

Stossel often makes public appearances and speeches, advocating his brand of free-thinking, libertarian-esque thought. []

Philosophical influences


Stossel's news reports and writings attempt to debunk popular beliefs. His "Myths and Lies" series of "20/20" specials challenges a range of widely held beliefs. He also hosted "The Power of Belief" (October 6, 1998), an ABC News Special that focused on the claims of the paranormal and people's desire to believe. Another report outlined why opposition to DDT is misplaced and that the ban on DDT has resulted in the death of millions of children,cite web | url= | title=The DDT Ban Turns 30 — Millions Dead of Malaria Because of Ban, More Deaths Likely | publisher=American Council on Science and Health | date=2002-06-01 | accessdate=2007-11-17 | last=Seavey | first=Todd ] mostly in poor nations. [cite news| url= | title=Hooray for DDT's Life-Saving Comeback | publisher=Real Clear Politics | date=2006-10-04 | last=Stossel | first=John | accessdate=2007-09-24]


As a libertarian, Stossel believes in both personal freedom [" [ Conference about "The Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity"] " at Francisco Marroquin University. Guatemala, January 2008] and the free market. He frequently uses television airtime to advance these views and challenge viewers' distrust of free market capitalism and economic competition. He told "The Oregonian", on October 26, 1994:

Stossel argues that personal greed creates an incentive to work and to innovate. [cite news| url= |title=Greed is good | last=Stossel | first=John | | date=2006-04-26 | accessdate=2007-09-24] He has promoted school choice as a way to improve American schools, because he believes that when people are given a choice they will choose the better schools for their children. [cite news| url= |title=Schools need competition now | | last=Stossel | first=John | date=2006-08-30 | accessdate=2007-09-24] Referring to educational tests that rank American students lower than others he says:

He has also criticized government programs as inefficient, wasteful, and harmful. [cite news | url= | title=Does Government Stupidity Know Any Bounds | | last=Stossel | first=John | date=2006-08-16 | accessdate=2007-09-24]

Awards, Praise and Criticism


Stossel has won 19 Emmy Awards. He was honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club, and has received the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the Peabody Award. In one year, according to Stossel in his book "Give Me A Break", "I got so many Emmys, another winner thanked me in his acceptance speech 'for not having an entry in this category'".cite book | first=Stossel| last=John| year=2005 | title=Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... | edition=Paperback | publisher=Harper Paperbacks | id=ISBN 0-06-052915-6 ] According to Stossel, when he was in favor of government intervention and skeptical of business he was deluged with awards, but in 2006 he joked, "They like me less... Once I started applying the same skepticism to government, I stopped winning awards."cite news| url= | title=John Stossel: Not Afraid to Tell the Truth | last=Sigall | first=Ed | publisher=NewsMax | date=2006-06-03 | accessdate=2007-09-24]


“John Stossel is the most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time," said the Dallas Morning News.cite news | url= | title=Confessions of a Media Maverick: Exposing Hucksters, Cheats and Scam Artists | publisher=The Independent Institute Conference Center | date=2004-01-30 | accessdate=2007-09-24] Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman lauded John Stossel saying, "Stossel is that rare creature, a TV commentator who understands economics, in all its subtlety." P. J. O'Rourke, best-selling author of "Eat the Rich" and "Parliament of Whores" praised Stossel saying, "... about John Stossel’s fact-finding. He seeks the truths that destroy truisms, wields reason against all that’s unreasonable, and ... puncture(s) sanctimonious idealism. ... He makes the maddening mad. And Stossel’s tales of the outrageous are outrageously amusing.” Steve Forbes, the editor of Forbes Magazine, described Stossel as riveting and "one of America’s ablest and most courageous journalists." An article published by the libertarian group Advocates for Self Government notes praise for Stossel. [cite web |url= |title=John Stossel - Libertarian | publisher=Advocates for Self-Government |accessdate=2007-07-10 |format= |work=] Anthony Gregor, writing on the libertarian blog,, described Stossel as a "heroic rogue... a media maverick and proponent of freedom in an otherwise statist, conformist mass media." [cite news | url= | title=Real TV News | | last=Gregory | first=Anthony | date=2005-01-11 | accessdate=2007-09-24] Libertarian investment analyst Mark Skousen said Stossel is "a true libertarian hero." [cite news | url= | title=A Year at FEE | publisher=Forecasts & Strategies| last=Skousen | first=Mark | date=2003-02-01 | accessdate=2007-09-24]


Some organizations such as Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and Media Matters for America (MMfA), have criticized Stossel's work,cite web | url= | title=John Stossel | publisher=Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting | accessdate=2007-09-24] cite web | url= | title=John Stossel | publisher=Media Matters for America | accessdate=2007-09-24] for an ostensible lack of balance of coverage and distortion of facts. For example, Stossel was criticized for a segment on his October 11, 1999, show, during which he argued that AIDS research has received too much funding, "25 times more than on Parkinson's, which kills more people." FAIR responded that, "In fact, AIDS killed more than 16,000 people in the United States in 1999," whereas Parkinson's averaged "a death toll in the United States of less than 4,000 per year." [Hart, Peter. [ "Give Us a Break: The World According to John Stossel,"] Extra!, March/April 2003.] Stossel claims in his books that he also receives criticism from the political right, because of his libertarian stance on such issues as drug legalization.


Galbraith and Stossel

Liberal economist James K. Galbraith said that Stossel, in a story on laissez-faire economics in September 1999, used an out of context clip of Galbraith to make it seem that Galbraith had said nearly the opposite of what he meant. Stossel denied that Galbraith's views had been misrepresented but changed the words with which he introduced the Galbraith clip in rebroadcasts of the program.cite web|url= | title=The Stossel Treatment | publisher=Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting | first=Rachel | last=Coen | date=2003-03 | accessdate=2007-11-14] [Rose, Ted (March 2000) [ "Laissez-Faire TV: ABC's John Stossel is a man on a mission to teach Americans about the evils of government regulation and the rewards of free enterprise."] "Brill's Content"] [cite web
url =
accessdate = 2007-12-10
author = Stossel & staff
date =
publisher = FAIR
quote = We stand by our report

Organic Vegetables

A February 2000 story about organic vegetables on "20/20" included statements by Stossel that tests had shown that neither organic nor conventional produce samples contained any pesticide residue, and that organic food was more likely to be contaminated by E. coli bacteria. The Environmental Working Group objected to his report, mainly questioning his statements about bacteria, but also managed to determine that the produce had never been tested for pesticides. They communicated this to Stossel, but after the story's producer backed Stossel's recollection that the test results had been as described, the story was rebroadcast months later, uncorrected, and with a postscript in which Stossel reiterated his claim. Later, after a report in "The New York Times" confirmed the Environmental Working Group's claims, ABC News suspended the producer of the segment for a month and reprimanded Stossel. Stossel apologized, saying that he had thought the tests had been conducted as reported. However, he asserted that the gist of his report had been accurate.cite news | last=Rutenberg | first=Jim | title=Report on Organic Foods Is Challenged | publisher=The New York Times | date=2000-07-31 | url= | accessdate=2007-09-01] [cite news | url= | title=20/20: Stossel Apology for Organic Food Report | date=2000-08-11 | last=Stossel | first=John | publisher=ABC News | accessdate=2007-09-26] cite news | last=Rutenberg | first=Jim | coauthors=Barringer, Felicity | title=MEDIA; Apology Highlights ABC Reporter's Contrarian Image | publisher=The New York Times | date=2000-08-14 | url= | accessdate=2007-09-05] cite news | url= | title=Blaspheming Organic Food: The Persecution of John Stossel | last=McElroy | first=Wendy | date=2000-08-15 | | accessdate=2007-09-26] cite news| url= | title=Give Me a Fake: Stossel Under Fire| publisher=Environmental Working Group | date=2000-09-06 | accessdate=2007-09-26]

Televangelist Lifestyle

In a March 2007 segment about finances and lifestyles of televangelists, 20/20 aired a clip of a TV minister originally broadcast by the Lifetime Network in 1997. The clip made it seem that the minister was describing his wealth in extravagant terms, when actually, he was telling a parable about a rich man. ABC News twice aired a retraction and apologized for the error. The minister filed a lawsuit against Stossel, his source for the clip, 20/20, and ABC for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. [cite news |url= | title=Price Strikes Back at ABC | last=Johnson | first=Gene C., Jr. | publisher=Los Angeles Wave | date=2007-08-02 | accessdate=2007-09-26] [cite news | url= | title=Preacher sues '20/20,' alleging defamation | publisher=Los Angeles Times | date=2007-07-25 | last=Semuels | first=Alana | accessdate=2007-09-26]

"Sick Sob Stories"

In an opinion piece published in "The Wall Street Journal" in September 2007 called "Sick Sob Stories", Stossel described the case of Tracy and Julie Pierce that was explored in Michael Moore's film, "Sicko". [cite news | url= | title=Sick Sob Stories | publisher=Wall Street Journal | last=Stossel | first=John | date=2007-09-13 | accessdate=2007-09-26] Julie criticized Stossel, saying her husband would have been saved by the Canadian health care system, and she thought Stossel should have interviewed her and her doctor before writing about them. [cite news | url= | title=Open Letter to ABC's John Stossel ... from Julie Pierce, American SiCKO | publisher=Michael Moore | last=Pierce | first=Julie | date=2007-09-14 | accessdate=2007-09-26] Stossel expressed sympathy, but said she had been misled to believe the treatment was routinely available in Canada. He said that the treatment is also considered "experimental" in Canada, and is provided there even more rarely than in the U.S. [cite news | url= | title=Stossel Responds to 'Sicko' Letter | publisher=ABC News | date=2007-09-25 | last=Stossel | first=John | accessdate=2007-09-27]

Global Warming

Stossel agrees that global warming exists, but he is skeptical of definitive claims that it is caused by human activity. He asserts the science is not settled regarding the cause, and has argued that there is not a scientific consensus. He also challenges the notion that man-made climate change would have net negative consequences, pointing to warmer periods in human history. [cite news | url= | title=The Global Warming Myth? | publisher=ABC News | last=Stossel | first=John | date=2007-04-20 | accessdate=2007-09-24] Central to his argument is the idea that groups and individuals get much more public attention, donations, and government funding when they proclaim "this will be terrible" than groups that say "this is nothing to worry about." He points to groups like the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Rachel Carson, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore as examples of environmental scaremongers. [cite news | url= | title=A Convenient Lie | publisher=Real Clear Politics | last=Stossel | first=John | date=2006-07-05 | accessdate=2007-09-24]

At Live Earth New York, Stossel was one of a handful of media personalities named by environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as "these Flat Earthers, these corporate toadies, lying to you, lying to the American public, and telling you that global warming doesn't exist...." [cite web| last =Johnson| first =Richard | title =Warming War Has Foes on Fire| publisher =New York Post|date=July 13, 2007| url = | accessdate = 2007-10-02 ] [cite web|url= | title=Letter from parents to Mr. Stossel |date=2001-06-24| publisher=Environmental Working Group | accessdate=2007-10-06|format=PDF] In 2001, FAIR criticized Stossel's reportage of global warming in his documentary, "Tampering with Nature," for using "highly selective...information" that gave "center stage to three dissenters from among the 2,000 members of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently released a report stating that global temperatures are rising almost twice as fast as previously thought." [ FAIR Action Alert: Stossel Tampers with the Facts] ]

Conflict of Interest

David Mastio of wrote in February 2000 that Stossel has a conflict of interest in donating profits from his public speaking engagements to, among others, a non-profit called "Stossel in the Classroom" which includes material for use in schools, some of which uses material made by Stossel. [cite news|url= | title=Prime-time propagandist | date=2000-02-25 | last=Mastio | first=David | publisher=Salon Media | accessdate=2007-10-06] [cite news | url= | title=A Teflon Correspondent | last=Dowie | first=Mark | date=2001-12-20 | accessdate=2007-10-06 | publisher=The Nation]

David Schultz incident

On December 28, 1984, during an interview for "20/20" on professional wrestling, wrestler David Schultz struck Stossel after Stossel asked whether professional wrestling was fake. Stossel stated that he still suffered from pain and buzzing in his ears eight weeks after the assault. [cite news | url= | title=TV Notes;ABC Reporter May Sue Wrestler Who Hit Him | last=Kaplan | first=Peter W. | publisher= New York Times | date=1985-02-23 | accessdate=2007-09-28] Stossel sued and obtained a settlement of $425,000 from the WWF. In his book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity he writes that he has come to regret doing so, having adopted the belief that lawsuits harm hundreds of innocent people. [ [ Wrestling Babylon] by Irvin Muchnick ECW Press 2007 p.118] [ [ Give Me a Break] by John Stossel, p.211] Schultz maintains that he attacked Stossel on orders from Vince McMahon, the head of the WWF. [cite news | url= | title=Dr. D dominates PWHF dinner | last=Johnson | first=Steven | publisher=Canoe | date=2006-10-08 | accessdate=2007-09-26]


Further reading

*cite book | first=Stossel| last=John| year=2005 | title=Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... | edition=Paperback | publisher=Harper Paperbacks | id=ISBN 0-06-052915-6

External links

*imdb name|id=0832766|name=John Stossel
* [ Harper Collins (Publisher)] - Biography at Publisher's website
* person|id=183792|name=John Stossel
* [ Stossel interviewed by Steve Hantler (biography, tort reform) (MP3 audio)] [cite web|title=Special Interview...Steve Hantler (of) John Stossel |url= |author =American Justice Partnership
format=17 minute MP3 audio |date=2005-12-12 |accessdate=2007-10-14

Biographies of, and articles about, Stossel

* [ ABC News Biography]
* [ "Laissez-Faire TV"] , An article about John Stossel from "Brill's Content".
* [ "Stossel's evolution from activist to contrarian angers some of his fans"] , "USA Today"
* [ "John Stossel: Myth-Buster"] ,
* [ "John Stossel: Not Afraid to Tell the Truth"] ,
* [ "John Stossel - Libertarian"] ,
*Sullum, Jacob. [ "Risky Journalism: ABC's John Stossel bucks a fearful establishment"] "Reason", April 1997.

Articles by Stossel

* [ John Stossel's 20/20 Web Page]
* [ John Stossel's Newspaper Columns]
* [ "Confessions of a Welfare Queen: How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars"] is an excerpt from his first book.

tossel Supporters and Critics

* [ Support John Stossel] by Competitive Enterprise Institute
* [ John Stossel profiled] by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting
* [ John Stossel profiled] by Media Matters for America

NAME= Stossel, John
SHORT DESCRIPTION=John Stossel is a consumer reporter, author and co-anchor for the ABC News show 20/20.
PLACE OF BIRTH=Chicago Heights, IL

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