Apr 10, 2019
Though now a fixture of the fringe right-wing, libertarian pundit John Stossel was a longtime staple of mainstream, Serious Person media. With hour-long specials and a weekly segment on the ABC program 20/20, Stossel built his brand as muckraking Truth-Teller against Big Government and out of control "political correctness", along with an empire of high school “educational” videos, distributed by libertarian billionaire-funded front groups to tens of thousands of American classrooms.
In his peak libertarian phase on 20/20, the ABC News program was frequently a Top 20 show, with an average of 13 million viewers an episode. Through his “Give Me A Break” segments and other high-profile special reports, Stossel – without challenge or balance – spread endless well-worn libertarian scare stories on topics ranging from teachers’ unions to the EPA to anti-tobacco regulators to minimum wage to Black civil rights activists, nut-picking the most fringe elements while building stories on anecdotal, fraudulent data and a black hole of libertarian sourcing.
On this episode, we trace today’s neoliberal, far-right toxic media back to Stossel’s brand of mainstream-laundered, libertarian “contrarianism.”
We are joined by Jeff Cohen, founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).