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John Stossel and 20/20 Shovel Through More Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity

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John Stossel is once again being a git, a snot, and pushing his agenda and views on the public and not making a news report, and doing it with condescending comments that belittle his viewers.

Tonight ABC aired his latest special called “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity” in which myths or common beliefs are “debunked,” like elephants being fearful of mice or that red cars get pulled over more often than cars not painted red. That’s all nice, but most of his top ten myths were beliefs held by those who oppose his libertarian views or more to the point, the left leaning ideology, and he promotes his own views surreptitiously.

The show ended up by saying that we have infinite amounts of oil but offers no information on pollution, global warming, or whether we should give polar bears swimming lessons. According to him, price gouging during disasters like Katrina is A-okay and the moral thing to do. Secondhand smoke isn’t all that harmful; it’s just scientists with religious-like zeal running a crusade against smoking. And there’s more, and he does make some good arguments.

But despite all that, in the end what I found offensive and insulting wasn’t his obvious agenda (as most of his reports are just that). It is that this 20/20 episode was a one-hour infomercial to promote his new book of the same name. That is cheap and should insult anyone with an average IQ. You watch TV for certain content but instead it’s a commercial ad parading as news content.

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About David Desjardins

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Damn, wish I had known about this in advance. Since I don’t share this author’s fear of hard truth I always find Stossel enlightening.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Dave by saying that Stossel is enlightening you’re not helping yourself here ;-)

    Infinite amount of oil… yes hard truth, because the earth is infinite. You do know what infinite means right? ENDLESS? INEXHAUSTIBLE?

    But you missed the whole point of the article which is that Stossel pimped his book by disguising an infomercial as a news show.

    Journalism is dead…

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    what, you mean like when stossel lies about testing of organic foods?

    conservative is fine. lying is not.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Thank Rand for John Stossel. He’s one of the few properly critical journalists on any broadcast network. Jeliel’s squealing like a stuck pig, so it sounds like Stossel did a good job of skewering some sacred liberal moo-moo cows.

    Hint: Calling him names does not constitute evidence that he’s wrong.

    Also, Stossel certainly does have a point of view. It’s not like Dan “Memogate” Rather does not have an agenda- it’s that you don’t LIKE Stossel’s viewpoint. But he’s honest in stating his beliefs, and expects to have to support his outlook with actual facts and evidence. Then viewers can make up their own minds whether to agree with him or not.

    And why is it illegitimate that he would write a book and also make a tv show based on the same material? Multi-media, BAD!

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Al you’re attempts at provocation are infantile

  • Dave Nalle

    It’s not like Stossel hid the fact that he’s promoting the book. A whole section of the show is basically about the book. Stossel is certainly scrupulously honest.

    BTW, for those who missed the show like I did many of the segments are excerpted on the 20/20 Website.

    Dave

  • RogerMDillon

    All TV is promotion of some kind.

    The show didn’t look that expensive to make, so I can understand 20/20 going ahead with it. It is a business after all.

    Why would you link to so many of his books if you don’t like the guy?

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    Stossel is certainly scrupulously honest.

    right. just google stossel and organic for a nice dose of “honesty”. if a liberal broadcaster had pulled some crap like that (and i’m sure it’s happened more than once) there’d be screams for his dismissal.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Jeliel, calling Stossel names is not a refutation of his arguments, and calling me “infantile” is not an answer to mine.

    Monsieur Saleski, I find it unlikely that Stossel would lie or be dishonest- that would be precisely contrary to everything I know about him. On the other hand, I’ve never seen whatever piece it is on organic foods that you’re referring to. Perhaps you could write up a story on this, quoting specific things Stossel said and showing precisely where you think he was dishonest.

  • sal m

    stossel has been attacked because during his segment where he was debunking the organic myth, he said that during his investigation found no evidence of pesticide residue on the samples of conventional produce, when the lab tested for bacterial residue.

    stossel and his producer apparently thought their lab tested for pesticide when it tested for bacteria. someone obviously goofed up, but in light of the other “mistakes” made by members of the MSM, this is a fart in a hurricane.

    the pro-organic movement got on this case and made a big stink. stossel was disciplined by abc and that was that.

  • blurp

    Jeliel’s squealing like a stuck pig, so it sounds like Stossel did a good job of skewering some sacred liberal moo-moo cows.

    Funny thing is, Stossel is doing exactly what a real liberal should do: he’s questioning “common knowledge”.

    Most people today that call themselves “liberal” are merely leftists.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Yes Blurp, thank you. The word “liberal” here was lazy usage on my part. It would have been better for me to say “sacred socialist moo-moo cows” or something like that.

  • http://lostsupermarket.blogspot.com/ Sean

    How is Stossel surreptitious in promoting his views? He is up front about his views. You may disagree with him, and he has made mistakes, but he is not sneaky.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Al, read my comment again, I didn’t call you infantile.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Sean, because he never expresses his opinions directly, he does it by proxy through those he “interviews” and playing all innocent and wide-eyed and then all of a sudden (midway through) we get the publicity for his book.

  • Ty

    I watched this episode (because I saw 20/20 in the on screen guide and read the info to find out what it was), and I’ve seen previous similar Stossel.

    I don’t always agree with the guy, but I like these kinds of shows. I wish more journalists had these kinds of shows.

    The central point of the show (At least several myths) was that people act and react due to irrational thinking, especially irrational fears.

    And isn’t it true that if price gouging did not occur, supply would run out quickly because people would buy much more than they need (which is what Stossel was saying about people waiting in line after Katrina).

    Imagine if a gas station lowered its price for a day to 50 cents a gallon. Wouldn’t many people go bezerk and not only fill up their cars, but go out and get HUGE tanks and fill them up with gas, thus depriving others who just need to fill up their car now and that’s it? Wouldn’t people literally kill other people just to get to a pump?

    Besides, most people bitch about so called price gouging with gasoline, but the truth of the matter is they couldn’t do it if we weren’t so reliant on automobiles. If we learn to use alternate forms of transportation, nobody will be able to gouge (because demand will go down).

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    al, life is to short to be wasting time writing up something that will be summarily shot down as this, that, or the other.

    this particular issue has been written about extensively. if you’d like to cling to the notion that stossel is nothing but honest, i’d ignore the material (besides, we all know it was probably written by hippies and other granola types).

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    …life it too short…

    dangit, need more coffee when i do something like that.

  • Dave Sparling

    Liberals often accuse the right for not emough” critical thinking”. Seems as if you are skewering Stossel for challenging some long held beliefs…

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    I’m skewering him for being a git, acting like he’s all suprised about his findings when those findings represent his agenda. I’m skewering him for passing a one hour book plug as journalistic integrity.

    Besides it’s a well known fact that if needed Stossel will use inexistant research to make his argument.

  • sr

    Now im really confused. I thought John Tonsil is an ear, nose and throat specialist. “Duh”.

  • ss

    I think Stossel makes some good points. The one (a few months back) about western countries not allowing African nations to spend aid money on DDT to fight malaria being wrong made sense to me. Pesticide can’t be good for you, but compared to a malaria epidemic…
    On the other hand, and this one goes back a few years, I remember him ‘debunking’ the ‘myth’ that plutonium was dangerous with the claim that that the radiation from plutonium won’t even penetrate your skin. True enough, but if you inhale or ingest dust with a tiny spec of plutonium in it, your chances of reaching old age have just diminished.
    So you have to remeber, Stossel often starts with a an isolated fact that seems defy common knowledge, then gathers other facts to back that arguement, ignoring those that don’t. What he’s offering is infotainment.
    By the way…
    Setting political views aside, and just looking at the method, how is what Stossel does all that diferent from what Michael Moore does?

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Setting political views aside, and just looking at the method, how is what Stossel does all that diferent from what Michael Moore does?

    I’d have to watch 911 again or another one of his works and check out the proof to properly answer that question.

    But if one does it, it doesn’t give the right for all to do it. Integrity isn’t balanced against others. You either practice it or you do not.

  • Dave Nalle

    There’s a huge difference between Stossel and Moore. Stossel is pretty much all facts, while Moore deals more in suggestion, interpretation and conspiracy spinning.

    Dave

  • ss

    I’d have to agree Stossel is pretty much conspiracy theory free, and Moore is, well… Not.
    But how is gathering a limited set of facts to support your arguement, and ignoring those that don’t, really all that different from dealing in interpretation and suggestion?

  • Dave Nalle

    Stossel is trying to make a point which is generally counter to the accepted wisdom. He presents the accepted position and then the evidence to counter it. It’s a very simple, straightforward format, not necessarily requiring the examination of a third or 4th perspective.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    So we should take what he says at face value? Like the organic food report he made?

  • Dave Nalle

    I certainly think he’s more trustworthy than most people you can find in the media. Does he make mistakes? Sure. He’s human. But I don’t think he’s going out of his way to spread misinformation.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    A mistake would be having the wrong information or misinterpreting it.

    I think that making up sources and references is going out of his way to spread misinformation.

    Dave, are you what we call an apologist?

  • ss

    Yeah, but going back to the plutonium example, you can see where presenting a breezily researched fact, in isolation, to support a narrative you’ve already decided on, can actually lead to the wrong conclusion.
    Other than political content, how is it different when a Libertarian and a Lefty rabble rouser misuse essentially the same medium to twist facts in essentially the same way?

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    Yup SS, it’s not like only one side will manipulate facts or like Stossel, make them up, to come to the desired conclusions. That’s a lack of ethics and integrity.

  • dnray

    nice argument. you are useing stossles present and deminish truths to liers to get your argumnt.
    Fuuny. i thought you were against him.
    p.s. i,m new not dave

  • liza

    5-24-06

    To Whom It May Concern:
    My name is Liza and I am a Middle School teacher in Boynton Beach, Florida. I am compelled to write this letter because I feel absolutely enraged after watching the recent 20/20 show entitled, 10 Common American Myths, Beliefs and Downright Stupidity. There are many aspects of this particular episode that troubled me. The segment that introduced this new notion, that it is actually a myth that teachers in America are being underpaid especially angered me.
    John Stossel’s report was an absolute gross overgeneralization of some teachers’ salaries. I thought his strategy of interviewing and asking disgruntled, tenured, teachers who were protesting in the streets of high paying teaching states was an extremely weak-kneed and convenient tactic. Did it ever occur to him that not all U.S states pay teachers the same salary? The state of Florida ranks 49th in the country for a typical teachers salary schedule. To add insult to injury, the state of Florida is a right to work state hence teachers don’t have the luxury to strike like they do in more progressive states.
    I have been teaching for 5 years and make $2,100 a month, (take home salary), and I have my pay stubs to prove it. Did John Stossel take into consideration the rising costs of real estate and gas prices for a young, single individual like myself? His report was not a fair or an even remotely accurate representation of all teachers. What about the younger generation of teachers? The new generation of teachers that are struggling to pay off student loans. The teachers that must contend with the rising cost of real estate and all the challenges that comes with purchasing their first home.
    I am incredibly offended and disturbed by such flippant reporting. I would like to invite him to interview me. To review my bank statements and tax returns. To look at my account balance in the bank. I am living from paycheck to paycheck. I cannot afford to buy a home, let alone put money into a savings account. In addition, I was not given a $5,000 sign on bonus the district promised me when I signed on to work for a Title1 School. I am not getting paid for my second credential. Unfortunately, they don’t offer reciprocity for more than one credential in the state of Florida like they do in other States. States like your fair city of New York and California. I have even gone to my union to try to make changes. I have made absolutely no progress in this complacent state.
    I would like to invite John Stossel to give teachers in the state of Florida a voice. He owes that to the teachers whose voices are not being heard. Obviously, I don’t expect him or 20/20 to dignify me with a response. No, that would go against the very grain of irresponsible journalism. I just hope that 20/20 is cognizant of the harm they are creating with their misguided information. I am not only affronted by this preposterous report, I am deeply saddened by it. I already feel so incredibly helpless on so many levels. I have wasted so much energy already attempting to make changes, all for nothing.
    This type of publicity just perpetuates my deep frustration with the public school system, which I do plan on leaving. Yes, I am, indeed, guilty of wanting the American dream just like everyone else- (homeownership, money to travel, etc.) John Stossel does not realize or acknowledge how many job vacancies there are just in the state of Florida. Florida is no longer a state of retirees; we are an increasingly growing state. We are in the midst of a baby boom and young families are transplanting at exponentially rates. Teachers are moving out of state because they can no longer afford to live here. John has over-simplified a very complex problem. I hope he realizes the affects of his ill-founded, ignorant and erroneous reporting. What you say to the American people affects the American People.
    I ask you John Stossel for an explanation! I am sure you would rather bury your head in the sand than defend such half-cocked, irresponsible, and unsubstantial reporting. Do your homework John Stollsel! Get all the facts in!!!!! You obviously don’t see the entire picture and that in my opinion, is downright stupid!

    A very disenchanted teacher
    Liza

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    My heart goes out to you Liza and you pretty much prove my point of Stossel’s agenda even more. He reports what fits his vision only or he will make fit into his vision. Pretty amateurish work. Fox should hire him.

    I hope your dream of owning a home and travel come true for you Liza

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I have to point out that although we can all feel sympathy for Liza, her salary is wildly atypical for teachers in the US. The statistics bear out Stossel’s report, not her particular case. Her salary after 5 years is still lower than the national average starting salary for teachers. It’s an anomaly rather than anything by which teacher salaries as a whole can be judged.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    I love how you chose to exclude variables from equations to get your desired result, which is winning an argument at all costs(and getting the last word).

    1- Can’t count the top bread-winners – Check
    2- Can’t count newbie teacher salaries – Check
    3- What will be next?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Jeliel, her example is an anecdotal example. When you look at trends you DO have to ignore the extremes and focus on the averages. And what I said was that her salary as an experienced teacher is lower than the average starting teachers salary nationwide, and not just by a little bit, by a huge amount. That’s an extremely anomalous salary. She could move to a hundred different school districts around the country and instantly earn substantially more with her qualifications, plus she’d be out of the most overpriced realestate market in the country as well. She can move to Austin, for example, where they are hiring in every area in all of the local school districts and with her experience and extra certification she would immediately start at almost double her current, at $3800 a month.

    The starting yearly salary for teachers nationwide averages about $32,000. That’s substantially higher than other professions with similar qualifications. The average starting salary for someone with a MA in a non-technical field is only $28,000. The average salary for all teachers nationwide is about $45,000.

    Plus I’m pretty sure she’s lying, working only part time, or is some sort of NEA plant. Boynton Beach is in the Palm Beach ISD which is a fairly well paid school district. The average salary there is $46,000 a year and the lowest starting salary in the district is $33,494 a year. Based on her description of her experience and qualifications her salary should actually be around $4000 a month, not the $2100 she describes. Ok, that’s not counting taxes – take out withholding and she’s still taking home at least $3000.

    Something fishy there.

    Dave

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Oh, and if you have any doubts about this, here’s a link to a PDF of salaries in her district.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com SteveS

    John Stossel lost what little credibility he had left when he tried to rationalize price gouging and wanted to pretend global warming doesn’t exist. Even Bush, the decider, knows it exists.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    That’s because not everything fits neatly into a nice little box. There’s far more to consider than take home pay. So many variables.

    And NEA plant? HOLY CRAP and I thought it was folks on the left that were supposed to be paranoid conspiracists.

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    JUNIOR knows about global warming, he just thought he could ignore it.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Jeliel, what’s your answer to her knowledge of her own salary being so divergent from the facts?

    And you think the NEA doesn’t have people out on the net trying to top anyone who disagrees with their agenda. Trust me, they do. They hold seminars on it.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    I don’t know, it would be mere speculation on my part. Like I said to many variables. Speculation is a dangerous game.

    Yes and if I were paranoid I’d say you’re some right-wing think-tank plant.

  • Dave Nalle

    I’ll take that as a compliment, Jeliel.

    Dave

  • http://jeliel3.blogspot.com JELIEL³

    There’s no doubt that you have your wits about you Dave, but I still disagree ;-)

  • Nancy

    Stossel panders to the lowest, most brainless (but alas, most prevalent) segments of American society, who believe anything anyone on TV tells them as long as they say it with enough authority. He’s a natural to work for the White House.

  • ian

    Interesting conversations but it must be said…is it “price gouging” or is it “supply and demand”. Sure you can set a fixed price and punish anyone who charges more but then…your supply is gone.

    Gasoline in the 70’s anyone?

    Also, there’s little to doubt about a warming globally, what’s in doubt is the source of the warming. Is it natural? Is it being substantially influenced by our emissions? 30 years ago the rallying cry of the environmentalists was that a new ice age was coming as temps subtly dropped and we needed to stop using fossil fuels. Now it’s warming is coming and…we need to stop using fossil fuels. I’d be interested to find out what the cry will be if the temps start falling globally again.
    Additionally, while those who support the global warming side of things state that anyone who questions it is a tool of corporate interests one should just as well question all of those scientists who say global warming is a coming catastrophe. What are their areas of expertise, are they doing studies, and if so, what is their funding reliant on? Bad news? Good news? It’s not all black & white. Certainly the environment is far more complex than we understand and to claim that we fully understand how it works and what will or will not happen is sheer hubris.

    That is all.

  • Rodny Goldstein

    I truly believe that you and John Stossel are both pushing your own agendas. In the end he just has a bigger and broader voice than yours. His views open doors for further debate, whereas yours point out personal opinion. And that is exactly what he hopes to achieve. It really doesn’t matter what he thinks about anything. As long as he can get you to speak then his job is done– and done very well.

    RG

  • http://Folksthatdonotbelieveingod Sharon Horsford

    Hi John, I do enjoy watching 20/20 when it is something really interesting,for instance the last show I watched was about folks that do not believe in god. Now some people called these people evil or bad because they had no proof what-so-ever that there is a god and they spoke truthfully. What do you call people like the BTk killer among many others that say they believe in god and kill people? Some of those people that dont believe there is a god is not going around causing people harm. Believing in god is a choice,it’s also a comforting thought because we do not have all the answers & we do not know for sure where we are going when we die,it’s just explanations that’s being handed down throughout generations. No paster,minister or priest can with certainty say that they know after death what happens. No one never came back from the dead to tell or show us. That part of life seem to be an unsolvable mystery,how this all started and after you die is that it? Please have another discussion on that subject.