Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can John Stossel Save American Journalism?

Recently, ABC investigative reporter John Stossel announced that he is heading to Fox News in October. Stossel is a rarity in mainstream journalism today: he is a true investigator. Whereas most reporters are Leftists who use the airwaves or newsprint, Stossel is a reporter who is grounded in American principles and willing to expose corruption and dishonesty wherever he finds it. He is an unabashed Libertarian whose world view is shaped by a belief in maximized liberty for all people.

In fact, Stossel will probably anger some who are more Republican than Conservative when he brings his brand of investigative reporting to Fox. He is not concerned with stepping on toes. Stossel is a journalist, but his principle-based reporting can play a positive role for Conservatives by reminding them of their core beliefs when their political leaders veer off course.

Stossel followed up his original announcement on today with a column that focused on the disintegration of legitimate reporting in the mainstream media.

When I announced last week that I was leaving ABC for Fox, some readers complained about my "bias." I replied: "Every reporter has political beliefs. The difference is that I am upfront about mine."

Look at today's burning issue: President Obama's pledge to redesign 15 percent of the economy. Virtually every reporter calls his health care plan "reform." But dictionaries define reform as "improvement." So before they present any evidence, reporters pronounce Obama's plan an improvement. Isn't that bias?

The New York Times took its bias to an absurd length. Its page-one story on the big anti-big-government rally in Washington, D.C., referred to "protests that began with an opposition to health care. ..."

Apparently, in the Times reporter's and editors' view, opponents of the Obama health care plan oppose health care itself. (The online article was later changed.

Economic-policy reporters usually present the views of supporters of new regulations as objective and public-spirited. For a contrary view, at best they'll ask a Republican or a representative of the regulated business, who is portrayed as self-serving. (Republicans tend to offer a watered-down version of the Democrats' proposals.)

A recent Bloomberg report on President Obama's plans to rewrite financial regulations is typical: "Obama has proposed new regulations overseeing the systemic risk posed by large financial institutions." The reporter quoted White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers in support of the plan. Although there are plenty of reasons to doubt that regulators are competent at judging systemic risk, no skeptical economist was quoted. Readers are led to believe the program is perfectly feasible.

Most reporting on the "stimulus" package has the same flaw. Just to call it "stimulus" is to editorialize, since the idea that government spending can truly stimulate an economy is at best doubtful. Many good economists say it can't be done. After all, the money is taken from somewhere else. But the economists rarely are quoted.

You can read the rest of Stossel's latest column here.

I'm looking forward to John Stossel's new career on Fox. While I sometimes find the typical Libertarian's view on foreign policy unsatisfactory for a dangerous 21st century world, their domestic agenda is much closer to the Founders' vision than the GOP and light years closer than the Democrats. Fox is a good home for a true Patriot like Stossel.

1 comment:

  1. Great news! I love Stossel's style. I don't always agree with him but he has a spine of steel and is unwavering and unapologetic in his investigations--quite refreshing! Can't wait to see him on Fox!!