Sep 25 2007

Stossel’s Healthcare Distortions

One-sided report omits context--and facts

ABC‘s 20/20 host John Stossel got an hour of prime time on September 14 to launch a one-sided attack on single-payer healthcare, and advocate for the so-called “free market” solutions that Stossel and his favorite sources prefer. “Tonight, we ask some provocative questions about your healthcare. We get some surprising answers,” explained Stossel at the beginning of the “Sick in America” special. But “surprising” is not the first thing that comes to mind for anyone familiar with Stossel’s journalism; as usual, Stossel relied largely on interviews with people who endorse the ABC host’s platitudes about the virtues of the marketplace […]

Jun 01 2003


Extra! Update June 2003

The Liberation of Iraq “I want to be certain that nothing is shown that would incite violence in a city that was extremely tense when we took over two-and-one-half weeks ago, and which still has folks who are totally opposed to what we’re doing and are willing to do something about it. . . . Yes, what we are looking at is censor­ship, but you can censor something that is intended to inflame passions.” —U.S. Maj. Gen. David H. Petraeus, explaining new restrictions on television in Mosul, Iraq (Wash­ington Post, 5/9/03) Oil and Democracy Playing down hopes for a democratic […]

Mar 01 2003

The Stossel Treatment

Selective editing and other unethical tactics

Sometimes John Stossel’s technique is no different from the sensationalism of any other tabloid TV entertainer. Witness his report on “dwarf tossing” (20/20, 3/8/02), in which he professed indignation at “busybodies” who want to stop the practice. “Dave Flood is a dwarf who is angry because his rights are being violated,” declared Stossel. “He wants to be tossed.” But Stossel’s approach can transcend the merely embarrassing, becoming careless or unethical. His reports are billed as news, but they sometimes rely on questionable methods such as deceptive editing that distorts arguments made by interviewees, the exclusion of facts that might conflict […]

Mar 01 2003

Give Us a Break

The world according to John Stossel

ABC News reporter John Stossel enjoys a special position in broadcast network news: Though not usually often identified as a commentator, Stossel is routinely allowed to use his one-hour primetime specials and his regular “Give Me A Break” features on 20/20 to explicitly promote his personal ideological agenda–from singing the virtues of corporate greed to attacking child labor laws–a perspective that is distinctly different from the generally muted centrism that pervades broadcast TV news. While there is a long and honorable tradition of U.S. journalists with definite points of view who hoped that their reporting would have a political impact–from […]

Nov 01 1999

Has ABC News Given Up on Accuracy?

Stossel special filled with Limbaughesque distortions

In a one-hour ABC News special titled “Is America #1?,” 20/20 corre­spondent John Stossel compared the economies of Hong Kong, the United States and India in an attempt to show that laissez-faire economic pol­icy is “what makes a country work well for its people.” The program was filled with so many factual inaccuracies, Limbaughesque distortions and unsub­stantiated claims that it calls into ques­tion whether ABC News applied any sort of journalistic standards to the broadcast. The following is just a sampling of some of Stossel’s erroneous claims: ■ One of Stossel’s main sources on Hong Kong claims that Hong Kong […]

Nov 01 1996

The Stossel Beat


John Stossel, the evangelist for laissez faire economics at ABC News, gave a revealing talk in September to the Federalist Society, a group of conservative lawyers (reported in Corporate Crime Reporter, 9/23/96). Stossel told the audience why he quit doing consumer reporting: “I got sick of it. I also now make so much money I just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas.” Stossel also gave the crowd an indication of how his beloved free market really works in media: “I certainly would encourage any of you who knows somebody who buys advertising on television to […]

Apr 01 1994

Victor Neufeld’s Anti-Environmental Spin Continues

Extra! Update June 1994

Victor Neufeld, 20/20‘s executive producer, whose wife is a PR agent who has represented the nuclear, chemical and plastics industries, has continued to steer the show away from environmental stories. In an Extra! expose (1-2/94), 20/20 staffers and ex-staffers told of Neufeld squelching stories critical of the nuclear industry and putting a spin on environmental stories that minimized or denied environmental concerns. ABC reacted to the Extra! article by “circling the wagons” around Neufeld, a 20/20 source said. As for Neufeld’s posture on environmental stories, “It’s the same thing–and worse.” Indeed, Neufeld, along with John Stossel, the correspondent who has […]