without a moral position is impossible.
|— Marguerite Duras
I was once a heroic consumer reporter;
now I'm a threat to journalism.
As a consumer reporter, I exposed con
men and thieves, confronting them with hidden camera footage that
unmasked their lies, put some out of business, and helped send the worst
of them to jail. The Dallas Morning News called me the
"bravest and best of television's consumer reporters." Marvin
Kitman of Newsday said I was "the man who makes 'em
squirm," whose "investigations of the unjust and wicked ...
are models." Jonathan Mandell of the New York Daily News
quoted a WCBS official who "proudly" said, "No one's
offended more people than John Stossel."
Ah, "proudly." Those were the
days. My colleagues liked it when I offended people. They called my
reporting "hard-hitting," "a public service." I won
18 Emmys, and lots of other journalism awards. One year I got so many
Emmys, another winner thanked me in his acceptance speech "for not
having an entry in this category."
Then I did a terrible thing. Instead of
just applying my skepticism to business, I applied it to government and
"public interest" groups. This apparently violated a religious
tenet of journalism. Suddenly I was no longer "objective."
Ralph Nader said I "used to be on
the cutting edge," but had become "lazy and dishonest."
According to Brill's Content, "Nader was a fan during Stossel's
consumer advocate days," but "now talks about him as if he'd
been afflicted with a mysterious disease."
These days, I rarely get awards from my
peers. Some of my ABC colleagues look away when they see me in the
halls. Web sites call my reporting "hurtful, biased, absurd."
"What happened to Stossel?" they ask. CNN invited me to be a
guest on a journalism show; when I arrived at the studio, I discovered
they'd titled it "Objectivity and Journalism -- Does John Stossel
Practice Either?" People now e-mail me, calling me "a
corporate whore" and a "sellout."
How did I get from there to here? This
book is the story of my professional and intellectual journey.
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