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John Stossel
Stossel in 2018
John Frank Stossel

(1947-03-06) March 6, 1947 (age 77)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Occupation(s)Libertarian pundit, author, columnist, reporter, TV presenter
Years active1969–present[1]
Notable credits
Political partyLibertarian
SpouseEllen Abrams

John Frank Stossel (born March 6, 1947) is an American libertarian television presenter, author, consumer journalist, political activist, and pundit. He is known for his career as a host on ABC News, Fox Business Network, and Reason TV.[2]

Stossel's style combines reporting and commentary. It reflects a libertarian political philosophy and views on economics which are largely supportive of the free market.[3] He began his journalism career as a researcher for KGW-TV, was a consumer reporter at WCBS-TV in New York City, and then joined ABC News as a consumer editor and reporter on Good Morning America. Stossel became an ABC News correspondent, joining the weekly news magazine program 20/20, and later became a co-anchor.[4] In October 2009, Stossel left ABC News to join the Fox Business Network. He hosted a weekly news show on Fox Business, Stossel, from December 2009 to December 2016. In 2019, Stossel launched StosselTV, an online channel distributed on social media.

Stossel has received 19 Emmy Awards[5] and five awards from the National Press Club.[6][7] He has written three books: Give Me a Break (2004), Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (2007), and No, They Can't: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed (2012).

Early life[edit]

John F. Stossel was born on March 6, 1947,[8] in Chicago Heights, Illinois, the younger of two sons,[9] to Jewish parents who left Germany before Hitler rose to power. The family joined a Congregationalist church in the U.S., and Stossel was raised Protestant.[10] He grew up on Chicago's affluent North Shore and graduated from New Trier High School.[11] Stossel characterizes his older brother, Thomas P. Stossel, as "the superstar of the family", commenting, "While I partied and played poker, he studied hard, got top grades, and went to Harvard Medical School." Stossel characterizes himself as having been "an indifferent student" while in college, commenting, "I daydreamed through half my classes at Princeton, and applied to grad school only because I was ambitious, and grad school seemed like the right path for a 21-year-old who wanted to get ahead." Although he had been accepted to the University of Chicago's School of Hospital Management, Stossel was "sick of school" and thought taking a job would inspire him to embrace graduate studies with renewed vigor.[9] Stossel recalled in an interview that after graduating college, "like a lot of young people I thought capitalism was ok it brings us some stuff but it's cruel and unfair".[12]


Early career[edit]

In school, Stossel aspired to work at Seattle Magazine, but it went out of business by the time he graduated. His contacts there assisted him in getting a job at KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon, where Stossel began as a newsroom gofer, working his way up to researcher and then writer. After a few years, the news director told Stossel to go on the air and read what he wrote. Despite his stage fright, Stossel says his fear spurred him to improve, examining and imitating broadcasts of David Brinkley and Jack Perkins. Stossel had also stuttered since childhood. After a few years of on-air reporting, Stossel was hired by WCBS-TV in New York City, by Ed Joyce, the same news director who hired Arnold Diaz, Linda Ellerbee, Dave Marash, Joel Siegel and Lynn Sherr. Stossel was disappointed at CBS, feeling that the more limited amount of time spent there on research lowered the quality of its journalism compared to Portland. Stossel cites union work rules that discouraged the extra work that Stossel felt allowed employees to be creative, which he says represented his "first real introduction to the deals made by special interests". Stossel also "hated" Joyce, who he felt was "cold and critical", though Stossel credits Joyce with allowing him the freedom to pursue his own story ideas, and with recommending the Hollins Communications Research Institute in Roanoke, Virginia, that helped Stossel manage his stutter.[13]

Stossel grew continuously more frustrated with having to follow the assignment editor's vision of what was news. Perhaps because of his stuttering, he had always avoided covering what others covered, feeling he could not succeed if he were forced to compete with other reporters by shouting out questions at news conferences. However, this led to the unexpected realization for Stossel that more important events were those that occurred slowly, such as the women's movement, the growth of computer technology, and advancements in contraception, rather than daily events like government pronouncements, elections, fires, or crime. One day, Stossel bypassed the assignment editor to give Ed Joyce a list of story ideas the assignment editor had rejected. Joyce agreed that Stossel's ideas were better, and approved them.[13] Stossel has served as a spokesman for the Stuttering Foundation of America.[14]


In 1981 Roone Arledge offered Stossel a job at ABC News, as a correspondent for 20/20 and consumer reporter for Good Morning America.[15] His "Give Me a Break" segments for the former featured a skeptical look at subjects from government regulations and pop culture to censorship and unfounded fear. The series was spun off into a series of one-hour specials with budgets of half a million dollars[16] that began in 1994. During the course of his work on 20/20, Stossel wrote, he discovered Reason magazine, whose libertarian ideas appealed to him.[17] Stossel later said in an interview that the regulations he urged governments to pass did not work.[12] After coming out as a libertarian, Stossel said, he angered members of the political left, his news colleagues and others.[12] Stossel was named co-anchor of 20/20 in May 2003, while he was writing his first book, Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media, which was published in 2004.[18] In it, he details his start in journalism and consumer reporting, and how he evolved to harbor libertarian beliefs.[13][19]

Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network[edit]

Stossel in 2010

In September 2009, it was announced that Stossel was leaving Disney's ABC News and joining News Corp.'s Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. In addition to appearing on The O'Reilly Factor every Tuesday night, he also hosted a one-hour weekly program for Fox Business Network and a series of one-hour specials for Fox News Channel, as well as making regular guest appearances on Fox News programs.

The program, Stossel, debuted December 10, 2009, on Fox Business Network.[20] The program examined issues related to individual freedom, free market capitalism and small government, such as civil liberties, the business of health care, and free trade. The final episode premiered on December 16, 2016. At the end of that episode, a retrospective that spotlighted moments from seven years of the program, Stossel explained that due to his age, he wanted to help develop a younger generation of journalists with his views, and would continue to appear as a guest on Fox programs, and also help produce content for Reason TV.[21] His blog, "Stossel's Take", is published on both FoxBusiness.com and FoxNews.com.[22][23]

Stossel TV[edit]

In 2019, Stossel launched Stossel TV, an online channel which distributes weekly videos via social media platforms.


Stossel has written three books. Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media is a 2005 autobiography from Harper Perennial documenting his career and philosophical transition from liberalism to libertarianism. It describes his opposition to government regulation, his belief in free market and private enterprise, support for tort reform, and advocacy for shifting social services from the government to private charities. It was a New York Times bestseller for 11 weeks.[24] Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel – Why Everything You Know Is Wrong, which was published in 2007 by Hyperion, questions the validity of various conventional wisdoms, and argues that the belief he is conservative is untrue. On April 10, 2012, Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, published Stossel's third book No, They Can't: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed. It argues that government policies meant to solve problems instead produce new ones, and that free individuals and the private sector perform tasks more efficiently than the government does.[25]

With financial support from the libertarian Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Stossel and ABC News launched a series of educational materials for public schools in 1999 entitled "Stossel in the Classroom".[26][27] It was taken over in 2006 by the Center for Independent Thought and releases a new DVD of teaching materials annually. In 2006, Stossel and ABC released Teaching Tools for Economics, a video series based on the National Council of Economics Education standards.[28]

Since February 2011, Stossel has written a weekly newspaper column for Creators Syndicate.[29][30] His articles appear in such online publications as Newsmax, Reason, and Townhall.[31]

Political positions[edit]

Stossel purports to debunk myths in his journalism.[6] His Myths and Lies series of 20/20 specials challenges a range of liberal beliefs.[6] He also hosted The Power of Belief (October 6, 1998), an ABC News Special that focused on assertions of the paranormal and people's desire to believe. Another report put forward the argument that opposition to DDT is misplaced and that the ban on DDT has resulted in the deaths of millions of children,[32] mostly in poor nations.[33]


Stossel speaking at the New York City Spring Summit of Young Americans for Liberty

As a libertarian[34] who has said he usually votes for the Libertarian Party,[12] Stossel says that he believes in both personal freedom[35] and the free market. He frequently uses television airtime to advance these views and challenge viewers' distrust of free-market capitalism and economic competition. He received an Honoris Causa Doctorate from Francisco Marroquin University, a libertarian university in Guatemala, in 2008.

Stossel argues that individual self-interest, or "greed", creates an incentive to work harder and to innovate.[36] He argues that this innovation makes the poor richer and the only way people "can get rich is to offer us something that we believe is better than we had before."[37] He promoted school choice as a way to improve American public schools akin to the Belgian voucher system.[38][39]

Stossel has criticized government programs for being inefficient, wasteful, and harmful.[40] He has also criticized the American legal system, opining that it provides lawyers and vexatious litigators the incentive to file frivolous lawsuits indiscriminately.[41] Although Stossel concedes that some lawsuits are necessary in order to provide justice to people genuinely injured by others with greater economic power,[42] he advocates the adoption in the U.S. of the English rule as one method to reduce the more abusive or frivolous lawsuits.[43]

Stossel opposes the minimum wage,[44] corporate welfare and welfare more broadly, bailouts,[12][45] seat belt laws, occupational licensing and the war in Iraq.[7][12] He also opposes legal prohibitions against pornography, marijuana, recreational drugs, gambling, ticket scalping, prostitution, polygamy,[46] and assisted suicide,[47] and believes most abortions should be legal.[48] He has said he supports the rule of law,[12] gun rights,[49] pollution control,[12] and lower and simpler taxes.[50] He has endorsed or explored various ideas in his specials and on his TV series for changing the tax system, including switching to a flat tax,[51] and replacing the income tax with the FairTax.[52]

Stossel argues that a country needs to have police and a national defense as laid out by the United States Constitution.[12] Stossel acknowledges that Scandinavian countries have large welfare states, but says that they can only afford them "because they have a homogeneous culture and they have a fairly free private market to pay for it" while also noting that they have no government-mandated minimum wage.[12][third-party source needed]

When the Department of Labor reissued federal guidelines in April 2010 governing the employment of unpaid interns under the Fair Labor Standards Act based on a 1947 Supreme Court decision,[53] Stossel criticized the guidelines, appearing in a police uniform during an appearance on the Fox News program America Live, commenting, "I've built my career on unpaid interns, and the interns told me it was great – I learned more from you than I did in college." Asked why he did not pay them if they were so valuable, he said he could not afford to.[54]

Stossel is a faculty member of the Charles Koch Institute.[55]

Stossel has advocated in favor of abolishing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[56]

On April 1, 2016, Stossel moderated the first-ever nationally televised Libertarian presidential debate.[57] The second part of the debate aired on April 8.[58] On May 21, 2020, he moderated the Libertarian Party National Convention Presidential Debate between Jacob Hornberger, Vermin Supreme, Jo Jorgensen, Jim Gray, and John Monds.[59]


In 2001, the progressive media watchdog organization FAIR criticized Stossel's reportage of global warming in his documentary, Tampering with Nature, accusing it of using "highly selective...information" that placed undue emphasis on three dissenters from among the 2,000 members of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which had recently released a report stating that global temperatures were rising almost twice as fast as previously thought.[60]

In December 2014, Stossel stated that "There is no good data showing secondhand smoke kills people." The fact-checker website Politifact rated this statement "False", citing considerable levels of scientific research showing that secondhand smoke has caused deaths.[61]

Praise and criticism[edit]


As of 2001, Stossel had won 19 Emmy Awards.[62][63] He was honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club, has received a George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and a Peabody Award.[64] On April 23, 2012, Stossel was awarded the Chapman University Presidential Medal, by the current president, James Doti, and chancellor, Danielle Struppa. The award has been presented to only a handful of people over the past 150 years.[65][unreliable source?] Stossel received an honorary doctorate from Universidad Francisco Marroquín.[66]


In promotional copy for one of Stossel's books, the Nobel Prize–winning Chicago School monetarist economist Milton Friedman wrote: "Stossel is that rare creature, a TV commentator who understands economics, in all its subtlety."[67] Steve Forbes, the editor of Forbes magazine, described Stossel as "one of America's ablest and most courageous journalists."[67] The author P. J. O'Rourke said, "He seeks the truths that destroy truisms, wields reason against all that's unreasonable, and uses and upholds the ideals that puncture sanctimonious idealism".[67]

An article published by the libertarian group Advocates for Self Government notes praise for Stossel.[68] Independent Institute Research Analyst Anthony Gregory, writing on the libertarian blog LewRockwell.com, described Stossel as a "heroic rogue... a media maverick and proponent of freedom in an otherwise statist, conformist mass media."[69] Libertarian investment analyst Mark Skousen said Stossel is "a true libertarian hero".[70]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Progressive organizations such as Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and Media Matters for America (MMfA) have criticized Stossel's work,[71][72] for what they described as a lack of balance of coverage and distortion of facts on his part. For example, Stossel was criticized for a segment on his October 11, 1999, show during which he argued that AIDS research has received too much funding, "25 times more than on Parkinson's, which kills more people." FAIR pointed out that AIDS had in fact killed more people in the United States in 1999.[73]

In a February 2000 Salon feature on Stossel titled "Prime-time propagandist", David Mastio wrote that Stossel has a conflict of interest in donating profits from his public speaking engagements to, among others, a non-profit called "Stossel in the Classroom" which includes material for use in schools, some of which uses material made by Stossel.[74]

University of Texas economist James K. Galbraith has alleged that Stossel, in his September 1999 special Is America #1?, used an out-of-context clip of Galbraith to convey the notion that Galbraith advocated the adoption by Europe of the free market economics practiced by the United States, when in fact Galbraith actually advocated that Europe adopt some of the United States' social benefit transfer mechanisms such as Social Security, which is the economically opposite view. Stossel denied any misrepresentation of Galbraith's views and stated that it was not his intention to convey that Galbraith agreed with all of the special's ideas. However, he re-edited that portion of the program for its September 2000 repeat, in which Stossel paraphrased, "Even economists who like Europe's policies, like James Galbraith, now acknowledge America's success."[75][76]

David Schultz incident[edit]

On December 28, 1984, during an interview for 20/20 on professional wrestling, wrestler David Schultz struck Stossel twice after Stossel said professional wrestling was "fake". Stossel said he suffered from pain and buzzing in his ears eight weeks after the assault.[77] Stossel sued and obtained a settlement of $425,000 from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[78] In his book, Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, Stossel noted his regret, believing lawsuits harm innocent people.[78] Schultz maintains that he attacked Stossel on orders from Vince McMahon, the head of the then-WWF.[79] This was later re-visited on the second season episode of Dark Side of the Ring, aired on April 28, 2020.

Organic vegetables[edit]

A February 2000 story about organic vegetables on 20/20 included statements by Stossel that tests had shown that neither organic nor conventional produce samples contained any pesticide residue, and that organic food was more likely to be contaminated by E. coli bacteria. The Environmental Working Group objected to his report, mainly questioning his statements about bacteria, but also managed to determine that the produce had never been tested for pesticides. They communicated this to Stossel, but after the story's producer backed Stossel's statement that the test results had been as described, the story was rebroadcast months later, unchanged, and with a postscript in which Stossel reiterated his claim. Later, after a report in The New York Times confirmed the Environmental Working Group's claims, ABC News suspended the producer of the segment for a month and reprimanded Stossel. Stossel apologized, saying that he had thought the tests had been conducted as reported. However, he asserted that the gist of his report had been accurate.[80][81][82][83]

Frederick K. C. Price[edit]

In a March 2007 segment about finances and lifestyles of televangelists, 20/20 aired a segment by Stossel that included a clip of television minister Frederick K. C. Price, which had originally been broadcast by the Lifetime Network in 1997. Price alleged that the clip portrayed him describing his wealth in extravagant terms, when he was actually telling a parable about a rich man. ABC News twice aired a retraction and apologized for the error.[84] The suit concluded with an out of court settlement including a public apology by ABC.[85]

Lawsuit against fact-checkers[edit]

In September 2021, Stossel sued Facebook, alleging defamation for labels applied by fact checkers to two of his videos, but his lawsuit was dismissed in October 2022.[86][87] The fact-checking organizations Science Feedback and Climate Feedback were also named as defendants in Stossel's lawsuit.[88] Stossel's video titled "Government Fueled Fires" had been labeled on Facebook as "missing context" and "misleading", and another video titled "Are We Doomed?" had been labeled as "partly false" and "factual inaccuracies".[86][88] Stossel's lawsuit said that the labels harmed his viewership, advertisement revenue, and reputation, and that Facebook and its fact-checking partners "falsely attributed to Stossel a claim he never made".[88] In the first video, Stossel featured a guest who opined that climate change was not the primary cause of the 2020 California fires.[89] In the second video, Stossel questioned statements made by those he refers to as "environmental alarmists", including "claims that hurricanes are getting stronger, that sea level rise poses a catastrophic threat, and that humans will be unable to cope with the fallout."[88][90] A Facebook spokesperson called Stossel's lawsuit "without merit", and Facebook attorneys said in 2021 that "The labels themselves are neither false nor defamatory; to the contrary, they constitute protected opinion."[88][91] In October 2022, a federal court dismissed Stossel's lawsuit, saying that Facebook did not defame him because the Facebook fact check program "reflects a subjective judgment about the accuracy and reliability of assertions". The court also ruled that Stossel's lawsuit could be dismissed under California's anti-SLAPP statute.[86][92]

Personal life[edit]

Stossel lives in New York City with his wife, Ellen Abrams[93] and children, Lauren and Max.[8][94] They also own a home in Massachusetts.[95]

Stossel came to embrace his family's Ashkenazi Jewish heritage after marrying his wife, who is also Jewish. They also raised their children Jewish.[10] Stossel identified himself as an agnostic in "Skeptic or Believer", the December 16, 2010, episode of Stossel, explaining that he had no belief in God but was open to the possibility.[96]

Stossel's brother, Thomas P. Stossel, was a Harvard Medical School professor[97] and co-director of the Hematology Division at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.[98] He has served on the advisory boards of pharmaceutical companies such as Merck and Pfizer.[99] Stossel's nephew is journalist and magazine editor Scott Stossel.[100]

On April 20, 2016, Stossel announced he had lung cancer despite never having smoked,[101] and that as a result of its early detection, he would have a fifth of one of his lungs surgically removed.[102]


  • Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... (Paperback ed.). Harper Paperbacks. 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-052915-4.
  • Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel – Why Everything You Know is Wrong (Paperback ed.). Hyperion. 2007. ISBN 978-0-7868-9393-5.
  • No, They Can't: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed. Threshold Editions. 2012. ISBN 978-1451640946.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Triggs, Charlotte (April 11, 2011). "John Stossel: Rising Above Stuttering – John Stossel". People. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  2. ^ "John Stossel". Reason.com. September 20, 2023.
  3. ^ Johnson, Carlisle (January 15, 2008). "Interview with John Stossel by Carlisle Johnson". Francisco Marroquin University (Guatemala) "New Media - Universidad Francisco Marroquín". Archived from the original on May 31, 2020. Retrieved September 13, 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Stossel, John (February 27, 2007). "Excerpt: John Stossel's 'Give Me a Break'". ABC News. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  5. ^ "John Stossel". Simon & Schuster.
  6. ^ a b c Hagelin, Rebecca. "John Stossel: Myth Buster Extraordinaire". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. Fraser Institute. Posted July 3, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2009. Archived June 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b "John Stossel: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  9. ^ a b Stossel, John (2004). Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media. HarperCollins. pp. 2–3
  10. ^ a b Gonczi, Esther (March 4, 2001). "King David Society Praises Generosity" Archived December 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Sun-Sentinel.
  11. ^ Zwecker, Bill (February 23, 2011). "Fox anchor identifies with 'The King’s Speech'". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived March 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j John Stossel | The Ben Shapiro Show Sunday Special Ep. 27, November 11, 2018, retrieved June 18, 2023
  13. ^ a b c Stossel. 2004. pp. 3–8
  14. ^ "Stuttering Didn’t Silence His Story: 20/20’s John Stossel Inspires Others". The Stuttering Foundation. May 1, 2006
  15. ^ Stossel. 2004. pp. 10–11
  16. ^ "John Stossel: The Reason.tv interview (Part 1 of 2)". YouTube. February 3, 2009. Archived from the original on November 16, 2021. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
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  18. ^ Stossel, 2004. p. 273
  19. ^ Stossel, 2004. p. 181
  20. ^ "John Stossel". Fox Business Network. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2013.
  21. ^ Welch, Matt (December 16, 2016). "Thank You, John Stossel, for Teaching Libertarians How to Do Cable News". Reason.org.
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  30. ^ "John Stossel Archive". Creators Syndicate. Retrieved August 2, 2012.
  31. ^ Stossel, John. "John Stossel : Contributors". Reason. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  32. ^ Seavey, Todd (June 1, 2002). "The DDT Ban Turns 30 – Millions Dead of Malaria Because of Ban, More Deaths Likely". American Council on Science and Health. Archived from the original on October 9, 2007. Retrieved November 17, 2007.
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  34. ^ Rutenberg, Jim; Barringer, Felicity (August 14, 2000). "MEDIA; Apology Highlights ABC Reporter's Contrarian Image". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 6, 2021.
  35. ^ "Conference about The Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity Archived May 31, 2020, at the Wayback Machine" at Francisco Marroquin University. Guatemala, January 2008
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  41. ^ Stossel, 2004. "The Trouble with Lawyers". pp. 177–179
  42. ^ Martel, Frances."John Stossel Fights Frivolous Lawsuits On A Go-Cart". July 7, 2010
  43. ^ Stossel; 2004; p. 283
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  45. ^ John Stossel and Andrew Kirell. Is the Government Bailout Just Dollars and Nonsense?, ABC News, March 13, 2009
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  47. ^ Television Review; A Grab Bag of 'Victimless Crimes', The New York Times, May 26, 1998
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  53. ^ Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act United States Department of Labor; April 2010
  54. ^ Stout, Hilary. The Coveted but Elusive Summer Internship, The New York Times, July 2, 2010
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