Humans Good!
June 29, 2001 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Humans Good! Finally...a report on a major TV network that presents (dare I say it?) the truth about progress, technology, and human nature, and eco-terrorists are portrayed in the scathing light of reality.
posted by davidmsc (30 comments total)
Hey, a Stossel report. You should’ve noted that in the topic post so I could ignore it. I wonder how many errors he made this time.

The Oregonian did a pretty complete survey on eco-terrorism, still with a bit of alarmist bombast and the slant that the elves must be wrong. Of course, being a better journalist than Stossel is about as hard as breathing.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:11 PM on June 29, 2001

I let a tape run in the VCR to record this while I went to work. Hopefully it recorded to I can catch it in the morning. I'm not sure if I agree with this guy, but I do wanna hear his side of the story. Does he speak from a perspective of common sense, or is he just a shill of corporate mentality?
posted by ZachsMind at 8:11 PM on June 29, 2001

I had just finished watching that show with my was a very Stossel show. It counter-reacted to every common conception we have about history, culture, our environment, nature and science. Even my brother (14 years of age) caught some of their use of propaganda language.

"Gene by gene alteration? Scientists don't do that...they blast particles and HOPE that something will hook up with the rest of the genes and they keep blasting away until something does..."

If you take out his opinion/synthesis, the footages and interviews are not bad.

Now is it just me, or is Stossel always close to tears during his interviews? Maybe there were just too many lights reflecting off his eyeballs...
posted by margaretlam at 8:18 PM on June 29, 2001

[and another thing..]
...For the record, this is obviously not (going to be) an example of objective journalism - it's a soap box. Whatever happened to just reporting what's there instead of having to make a statement about it? The lines between the professions of journalism, news reporting and criticism are blurring.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:19 PM on June 29, 2001

Oye, I suck.

(Please note I am not endorsing in any way. They just archived the thing, is all.)
posted by capt.crackpipe at 8:23 PM on June 29, 2001

Oh yes, this is the report in which the network had to yank some footage of Stossel talking to a group of kids because he was revealed to have fed them beforehand some overly environmentalist notions in order to 'demonstrate' that the public schools are 'teaching our kids environmentalism.' Yes, scare quotes, sorry.
posted by EngineBeak at 8:34 PM on June 29, 2001

"Straw man"
posted by muppetboy at 8:40 PM on June 29, 2001

Story on Stossel's manipulation of interview subjects:
"He started asking leading questions and it was very clear what he wanted to get," Quigley said. "He would say, 'Wow, it's really scary, isn't it?' And the kids weren't scared at all and so they just looked at him. He asked that question repeatedly."

According to Quigley, Stossel was having a hard time getting what he wanted. "These were bright kids, and they were responding well. He was clearly trying to elicit certain responses on tape. When he didn't get the verbal response he wanted, he had the crew shoot from behind and had the students raise their hands while he asked, 'Is the air getting dirtier or cleaner?' It was clear that he wasn't interested in honest dialogue but was trying to elicit certain responses for a script he had already written."

It seems to me that Stossel has a particular point of view that government is bad and unfettered capitalism is good, which, of course, is his right. Presenting his program-length editorials as reportage isn't, though. He already had his mind made up before he even started this program. From the same article linked above:
In March -- a month before Stossel's producers turned up at Quigley's event -- a group called Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) posted an email to their listserv. RISE serves as a pesticide industry front-group, according to Sheldon Rampton, editor of PR Watch. The email was a message from Michael Sanera, director of environmental education research at the Stossel fan club known as the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The email was later forwarded to environmentalists.

"I have been contacted by ABC News," Sanera wrote on March 20, 2001. "A producer for John Stossel is working on a program on environmental education. He needs examples of kids who have been 'scared green' by schools teaching doomsday environmentalism in the classroom. (He needs kids and/or parents to appear on camera.) I have some examples, but I need more. Would you send out a notice to your group and ask if they know of some examples."

posted by icathing at 8:57 PM on June 29, 2001

But it's the TRUTH! It has to be, because it disagrees with some people I don't like.
posted by rodii at 9:42 PM on June 29, 2001

Whatever happened to just reporting what's there instead of having to make a statement about it?

That's all anyone does nowadays. There's no advocacy or pov outside of standard panel arrangements or "editorials". I'd prefer if reporters stopped being automatons and tell us what they really think. Whether I agree with them or not. I tend to agree with Stossel but not O'Reilly but they're way more interesting than a ton of other interchangeable MSNBCNNABC heads.
posted by owillis at 10:04 PM on June 29, 2001

My favorite John Stossel quote of all time; this must be what is meant by "liberal bias in the media":
"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."
--John Stossel to an audience of conservative lawyers of the Federalist Society, on why he stopped doing consumer reporting:

And while on the topic of Liberal Bias in the Media...

"I admit it. The liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures."
--William Kristol, The New Yorker, May 22, 1995
"The trouble with politics and political coverage today is that there's too much liberal bias.... There's too much tilt toward the left-wing agenda. Too much apology for liberal policy failures. Too much pandering to liberal candidates and causes."
--William Kristol, in a Weekly Standard subscription pitch, June 2001
posted by hincandenza at 10:08 PM on June 29, 2001

Regarding the use of the term "eco-terrorist", I have a question: Why is it that the extremes of the environmentalist movement, such as ELF, are labeled "eco-terrorist", while the extremes of (for example) the self-proclaimed pro-life movement are called "anti-abortion activists"? While I don't condone [most] violent acts in pursuing an agenda, it's worth noting that in the case of so-called eco-terrorists they are not as a rule targeting human life, and use a term like eco-terrorists simultaneously attempts to smear the entire environmental movement while diminishing the harsh potency of the term "terrorism". Geov Parrish article on defining terrorism linked here. Warning- extreme liberal columnist... :)
posted by hincandenza at 10:23 PM on June 29, 2001

Story on Stossel's manipulation of interview subjects

NB that "story" is from a left-wing group that has long despised John Stossel, like many other left-wing groups. The reality is that a) none of these parents cared until the Environmental Working Group, which REALLY despises John Stossel, contacted them well after the interviews and fed them some notions; and b) Every network TV newsmagazine correspondent fluffs up their interviewees and edits their responses afterwards. The only difference is that all the others are themselves liberal, so the pressure groups don't mind one bit.

And William Kristol isn't a good guy to "out", since most conservatives have known for years his own personal politics slide back and forth with a puff of wind.
posted by aaron at 10:29 PM on June 29, 2001

owillis: "I'd prefer if reporters stopped being automatons and tell us what they really think."

My reflex reaction is to say: I prefer being told the facts and from that making my own opinions.

However, I don't normally go out of my way to record 20/20, but Stossel's hour long editorial got my attention. It might be yellow journalism, but it may also "fill the seats." I'd like to believe the news' job is to tell ME what's going on in the world so I don't have to trace Christiane Amanpour's steps to find out for myself what's happening in the world. Unfortunately that doesn't make ratings and it doesn't sell advertising.

Well, unless you're Christiane Amanpour. [what a babe.]
posted by ZachsMind at 11:11 PM on June 29, 2001

aaron, Stossel has forever tarnished his credibility with bullshit like making up bogus laboratory test results, getting called on it, and then rebroadcasting the same uncorrected story including new live commentary on the same nonexistant tests.

All pulling stunts like that, it is entirely justified for watchdogs to eagerly scrutinize his broadcasts.
posted by NortonDC at 12:21 AM on June 30, 2001

Stossel has zero credibility. Zero. And as for the parents being coaxed by EWG, at least one of them- Michael Scott- came out and said EWG didn't coax or convince him. I suppose one could argue that part of the nefarious Liberal Media Bias is that these parents were brainwashed (Stossel seems to think so, per paragraphs 2 et al) but at some point Horowitzian paranoia at a VLWC has to give way to accepting people at their word.

And seriously Aaron, the whole "Those awful liberals and their corporate-owned news channels are so biased against everything we rugged noble conservatives believe!" schtick is wearing thin. Click your ruby red heels together and repeat after me: There is no liberal bias in the media, there is no liberal bias in the media, there is no liberal bias in the media...
posted by hincandenza at 12:54 AM on June 30, 2001

Those awful liberals and their corporate-owned news channels

Key there is corporate-owned: GE, White Westinghouse, News Corp, Clear Channel, etc. all benefit greatly from current conservative ideology.
posted by nathan_teske at 1:21 AM on June 30, 2001

To expound on the "no liberal bias" notion: the news media over the past couple of decades has been increasingly consolidated into fewer and fewer ownership hands, including newspapers, radio (note the ClearChannel and Infinity Radio debacle since the '96 deregulation act), and of course television/satellite/cable. That this consolidation has occured is an undisputable fact, and the ownership is by necessity corporate in nature. This leads to the news media having a distinct pro-business, pro-corporate, pro- neoliberal "free trade". Further, there is evidence that the news media can sometimes overcompensate for allegations of liberal bias by being biased in the opposite direction (The Daily Howler does a better job than I ever will of noting and cataloguing these transgressions).

Y'know, I had just typed a long exposition about this, but I've deleted it (hold the applause... (: ) and will instead link to selections from da Man, Noam Chomsky:

Studying The Media (at
Media Control (at

And of course, the classic book "Manufacturing Consent"...
posted by hincandenza at 1:30 AM on June 30, 2001

Okay this morning I'm gonna go to my VCR and hit play. Do I watch this Stossel guy's report or not? I mean won't it at least be good for a laugh or two? Or would doing so be contributing to the liberal media? You guys have my fuzzy widdle bwain all confoozled now!

And I WILL be fast forwarding over the commercials.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:42 AM on June 30, 2001

John Stossel=Heraldo Rivera Lite

hincandenza- let me recommend you and all my MeFi friends to read Edward Abby's Monkey Wrench Gang as far as an argument for the development of ecoterorism as a form of recent protest. His other books are also excellent, especially Desert Solitaire
posted by roboto at 5:23 AM on June 30, 2001

The reality is that a) none of these parents cared until the Environmental Working Group, which REALLY despises John Stossel, contacted them well after the interviews and fed them some notions ...

Regardless of how it came to light, Stossel's conduct with those kids was unprofessional, cynical and manipulative. He's become an astonishingly bad reporter in the last five years -- he doesn't cover stories anymore; he scripts them.

Quote from an article about the interviews: at one point, Stossel tried to lead the children in a chant to the effect that "all scientists agree that there is a greenhouse effect" ...

How can anyone support a journalist who behaves this way?
posted by rcade at 7:39 AM on June 30, 2001

John Stossel=Heraldo Rivera Lite?

John Stossel= (Fuzzy/3) x (Heraldo Rivera Lite+Rush Limbaugh)
posted by ParisParamus at 7:54 AM on June 30, 2001

roboto you're just saying that because of the mustache, aren't you?

I don't know much about Stossel, but didn't he do a rather good report on the drug war a while back? Or was that someone else?
posted by FPN at 8:01 AM on June 30, 2001

Stossel is a joke. You love his scathing reports until he reports on something you care about, then you see the one-sided baloney he pushes.
posted by fleener at 8:26 AM on June 30, 2001

FAIR has some lovely stuff on Mr. Stossel.
posted by solistrato at 8:30 AM on June 30, 2001

You love his scathing reports until he reports on something you care about, then you see the one-sided baloney he pushes.

Reminds me of what NTK's Danny O'Brien once said about news coverage: "There's a story that you're involved in, and you see the reports, and say: 'It's not like that at all.' And then you think about all the other stories..."

Is there any place for ground-breaking investigative journalism from the major broadcasters these days? That is, beyond yet another consumer report. Even the BBC is less eager to offend sensibilities, though Fergal Keane's report on Ariel Sharon's complicity in the Sabra and Shatila massacres would never have made it onto the American networks?
posted by holgate at 8:50 AM on June 30, 2001

I was never a very big fan of Bill Moyers, but at an age when many retire, lose their edge, or just give up, he is putting out some of his best work. I thought these were pretty damned good: Moyers on dying, drug abuse, the environment, the chemical industry.
posted by gimli at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2001

Check out NPR's On The Media audio interview with one of the parents, plus the contradictory entitled media ethicist Gary Hill.
posted by dong_resin at 1:39 AM on July 1, 2001

Stossel's newfound "professional" journalism is in the same league as Bill O'Reilley being labelled a professional journalist after years of "A Current Affair" (or whatever the dreck that he used to host was called). Bah ...

However, I hadn't noticed anyone mentioning one of my favorite schmucks of the enviro movement, Patrick Moore. Yee haw, what a winner!
posted by foist at 9:04 AM on July 1, 2001

Isn't it about time for Stossel to move to Fox "News" Channel?

Seems like he feel right at home there.
posted by dr. zoidberg at 10:15 AM on July 1, 2001

« Older Pamie   |   True Guide To New York Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments