John Stossel

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

John Stossel - formerly co-anchor of ABC's 20/20 and host of ABC's John Stossel Specials reports for ABC radio and [1] - moved to the Fox Business Network to host a weekly prime-time program and will appear on the Fox News Channel[2].

Stossel left Fox Business in 2016 and began working with the journalist fellowship program at the Charles Koch Institute. Stossel continued his television punditry on YouTube, first through the Reason Foundation's "Stossel on Reason" program, and then with his own show, Stossel TV.[3]

Stossel TV is administered by the Center for Independent Thought, an organization that was formed by Howard S. Rich in 2006 to support Stossel in the Classroom and other projects. The Center for Independent Thought is financed by Koch family foundations, DonorsTrust, the Claws Foundation, the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, and the J.P. Humphreys Foundation, among other donors.[4]

JFS Productions, a limited liability company owned by Stossel, was listed among the top contractors of the Charles Koch Institute from 2017-2019, receiving a total of $1,541,715.[5]

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Personal life

Stossel's older brother is Dr. Thomas P. Stossel[6] of the Manhattan Institute[7] and American Council on Science and Health.[8]

Moving with the Times

In September 1996 Stossel gave a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C. Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman reported that when it came to the question and answer session Stossel was asked: "If you believe that consumer reporting works, and is a better regulator than regulation or lawsuits, why did you stop doing it?"

"I got sick of it," Stossel responded. "I also now make so much money I just lost interest in saving a buck on a can of peas. Twenty years was enough. But mainly, I came to realize that the government was doing far more harm to people than business and I ought to be reporting on that. Nobody else was."

In January 2004 Stossel's book - Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media - was published. "In Give Me a Break, Stossel explains how ambitious bureaucrats, intellectually lazy reporters, and greedy lawyers make your life worse even as they claim to protect your interests. Taking on such sacred cows as the FDA, the War on Drugs, and scaremongering environmental activists -- and backing up his trademark irreverence with careful reasoning and research -- he shows how the problems that government tries and fails to fix can be solved better by the extraordinary power of the free market," the promotional material proclaims. [9]

Writing in LA Weekly, Greg Goldin, cited Stossel's 1996 comments in a story on a launch party for the book, noting in passing that "Stossel, sipping a vodka tonic, seemed a lot more hedonistic than his admirers". [10]

Subsequently Stossel penned a letter to the editor of LA Weekly challenging that he had been drinking a vodka tonic and that he had made the comments: "The alleged source of that quote was a 1996 speech I gave to the Federalist Society in which I supposedly said that I stopped consumer reporting because '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.' That doesn't sound like anything I've said and certainly doesn't reflect the reasons I shifted my focus from consumer reporting to government programs and lawyers (I shifted because I concluded they do more harm to consumers than business). The transcript of this speech that the Federalist Society supplied does not include the quote." <[11]

In an April 2004 column, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman reported that they had both a transcript and tape of his comments in the question and answer session. [12]

Goldin also reported that at his Los Angeles book launch a man in the audience challenged Stossel's exhortations on the benefits of free market capitalism. "During the electrical crisis L.A. was the only place that wasn't affected because we had public power. Meanwhile, Enron stole billions of dollars," he said.

In response Stossel claimed the collapse of Enron proved that the system worked. "There are no big national scams except for Enron. Because markets figure it out. Not the government. Enron is an example of how well the market worked for people. Enron's stock came tumbling down. When the government fails, we give them more money. So, yes, there are Enrons, but the exception proves the rule," he said. [10]

In response to Stossel's letter, Golden expressed his amazement at the claim that the Enron collapse was an example of the market working. "Enron collapsed not due to a stock tumble but because government investigations disclosed accounting fraud, and Ken Lay's Ponzi scheme was exposed. Most investors lost their shirts, and thousands of Enron employees lost their jobs. That's "how well the market works for people"? Perhaps we should ask, if John Stossel wasn't drinking a vodka tonic, what was he drinking?," he wrote. [11]

Appearing on the Al Franken show 07/22/2004, Stossel was challenged about his book's claim that the government spends nearly $10,000 per poor person. Flipping through the galleys for the book, Franken noticed this figure and expressed skepticism. He found the figure was calculated by dividing the amount spent on means-tested programs divided by the number of poor people. This, Franken pointed out, was absurd because lots of means-tested money goes to people above the poverty line. Stossel promised he would fix this but in the published book he makes the same mistake, but cites a think tank. Franken called the think tank about the issue, and after two days of searching for where they had published the number, they concluded Stossel got it using the same division method. Franken challenged Stossel about this live in studio; Stossel denied that this was how it was calculated.

In a December 2003 commentary in the New York Post, Stossel explained his research methods. Recounting the concern expressed about the presence of acrylamides, which are formed by frying high-carbohydrate foods, Stossel wrote that "when scares like that cross my desk, I often turn to the American Council on Science and Health".

"The scientists at ACSH were quickly able to put the hyperbole in perspective - noting that acrylamides could be detected in a wide range of foods, not just snacks like French fries (which are easier to make people feel guilty about). They noted that the fact that high dose exposure to acrylamides caused rodent tumors had no relevance in predicting human cancer risk," he wrote. [13]

Worried in America

In February 2007, a two hour feature, "Worried in America"", was presented by Stossel. "There's a lot to be scared about. The media hit us with endless warnings: terrorism, bird flu, vicious crime, cancer, global warming and much more. But are all worries created equal? It turns out that what we worry about is often different from what's most likely to hurt us," he wrote on the ABC website. [14]


  • John Stossel, [15], HarperCollins, January 2004. ISBN 0060529148.

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