World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Does 20/20s John Stossel Deserve a Promotion?

Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

Does Stossel Deserve a Promotion?

May 23, 2003

Starting tonight, ABC reporter John Stossel will have a new job at 20/20: co-anchor. Barbara Walters' former partner John Miller departed in January, and ABC chose Stossel to fill his role. According to a recent report in TV Guide (5/10/03), one source at ABC says that picking Stossel makes sense: "These are conservative times... the network wants somebody to match the times."

One might hope ABC would be more concerned with hiring a journalist with a record of credible and accurate reporting than with matching the perceived political climate. For years, Stossel's work has been notable for bungled facts and twisted logic, all in service to his conservative "free market" agenda. (See Extra!, 3-4/03.) In a 1998 report (2/3/98), Stossel dismissed complaints about rising CEO salaries, saying that "factory wages were up, too-- up 70 percent" in the last 15 years. But wages for manufacturing workers had risen only if you don't adjust for inflation; in terms of purchasing power, factory workers' wages had fallen by more than 6 percent since 1983. In a 1999 special (9/19/99), one of Stossel's main sources claimed that Hong Kong is "the only government in the world that makes a surplus, a big surplus." In fact, 11 countries-- including the U.S.-- had run a budget surplus the previous year.

Stossel's methods have also been called into question-- most memorably when he cited research that didn't actually exist about pesticide residues in organic produce (New York Times, 7/31/00).

In a recent email to viewers (5/16/03) Stossel lashed out at his critics, "the activists of the totalitarian Left, which try to get people like me fired, or silenced." FAIR, however, has never called on ABC to fire him. We have frequently asked for Stossel's reports-- more opinion pieces than news stories-- to be balanced with commentary from an opposing point of view, and we've encouraged viewers to ask ABC whether the numerous inaccuracies and distortions in Stossel broadcasts meet the network's standards.

Up until now, ABC has for the most part ignored the thousands of letters pointing out the unreliability of Stossel's reporting. Now, apparently, it's decided that the appropriate response is a promotion.

ACTION: Please ask ABC News to explain how Stossel's journalistic record justifies his promotion.



As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc with your correspondence.

FAIR's recent reports on Stossel are now online:

"Give Us a Break: The world according to John Stossel"

"The Stossel Treatment: Selective editing and other unethical tactics"

For more about John Stossel's work over the years, see:


To make a donation to FAIR:

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Climate Strike: At UN, Youth Activists Press For Bold Action

This first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit follows Friday’s global ‘climate strike’, which saw millions of young people from across the globe walk out of school and jam streets in major cities, from New York to New Delhi and Santiago to San Francisco. More>>


Pacific: Tongan PM 'Akilisi Pohiva Dies, Aged 78

A constant thorn in the side of the monarchy and nobility, Mr Pohiva's lifelong battle for representation had seen him fired from the public service and charged with sedition... More>>


Untied Kingdom: UK PM Moves To Suspend Parliament In Weeks Before Brexit

The Prime Minister has briefed Cabinet colleagues that the government will bring forward an ambitious new legislative programme for MPs’ approval, and that the current parliamentary session will be brought to an end. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Hong Kong Protest Movement

The pro-democracy protests enjoy huge support among Hong Kong’s youth, partly because the democratic systems currently at risk have only a limited time span. More>>