Re: Help John Stossel

Date: Fri Aug 11 2000 - 16:29:54 MDT

J.R. Molloy forwards:
> > Here's the background, per the Associated Press: In a segment
> > questioning the health benefits of organic foods, first aired in
> > February and then repeated in July, Stossel reported that a test
> > conducted on vegetable produce for ABC News found that there was no
> > pesticide residue on either conventionally-grown samples or organic
> > ones. But after an investigation, ABC concluded that no such test had
> > been done. ABC has stated that Stossel was relying on inaccurate
> > information that had been provided by a staff member. The segment's
> > producer apparently mistakenly believed that a test done on chicken
> > had also been done on vegetables. The producer has reportedly been
> > suspended for thirty days and Stossel himself will make an on-air
> > apology on Friday. (Hence the rescheduling of his documentary "Is
> > America Number One?")

This is tonight, BTW. Should be interesting to see how much Stossel is
forced to retract. The organic food people are also claiming that Stossel
said that organic chicken was contaminated with E. Coli, without checking
to see if it was a harmful strain or one of the many harmless ones.

Stossel got in trouble a few weeks ago with Erin Brokovich, the real
person behind the movie based on her story. She had famously pushed
forward a legal case about contaminated water that eventually led to
a large settlement. Stossel claimed that the contaminant was actually
not known to cause cancer when ingested in water, and furthermore that
statistically the incidence of cancer among local residents was no higher
than average. Brokovich came back with an invitation to Stossel to have
his family drink similarly contaminated water. He declined but said,
let's not scare people unnecessarily.

Personally I don't feel a knee-jerk impulse to defend this guy just
because he may share some of my political views. IMO he should be very
careful about making claims, especially when they contradict expectations.
If you're saying that grocery store produce has no pesticide residues,
you ought to make sure of your facts. Anyone who rinses an apple before
eating is going to be skeptical about this. By going out with false
information, he damages his own cause, which means he damages my causes.

Next time John Stossel says that GM food is safe, or that people can
use drugs responsibly, or that gun control raises crime rates, people
are going to wonder: is this another pesticide coverup? Can Stossel
really be trusted? Everything he says is going to be questioned.

I don't think ABC will fire him; the controversy will be good for ratings.
I'll probably watch 20/20 tonight even though I detest the weepy stories
they often present. But even if a bunch of libertarians descend on the
message boards to rally round the cause, it's not going to help Stossel's
credibility in the long run.


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