In Defense of John Stossel

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As one of the few — if not the only — liberty-minded television journalists on the planet, John Stossel has a target on his back. He is a target for those who seek to control the lives of others. When I first heard of John Stossel and his ground-breaking exposés on government waste, I wondered why no one had yet tried to paint him as a loony.

Why? Because Stossel dares to ask the tough — and simple — questions that no one else in the boot-licking media is willing to ask. Those who dare to question the conventional wisdom of the day have to be ridiculed as insane, otherwise those who want to control the lives of others would actually have to justify their lust for power — which, of course, they cannot do.

(As an aside, if you have not already done so, read Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Like the environmentalists of today, Twain’s Yankee is happiest when meddling in the lives of others).

For example, in one episode on the "benefits" of organic food, Stossel made two contentions. First, there is no evidence that organic food is better for you. Second, organic food may be worse for you, due to the fact that it is fertilized not with nitrogen taken from the air in a chemical factory, but by cow dung, also known as manure. If you don’t wash your high-priced organic foods, Stossel noted, you may be ingesting bacteria from the manure. Sounds sensible, right?

The problem is with the environmentalists, who are now engaged in a full-blown campaign to smear John Stossel. In reply, Stossel has called the environmentalists exactly what they are: totalitarians.

And by the way, don’t expect John Stossel to get a fair hearing from his Left-leaning colleagues in the "unbiased" media. Here is how the Washington Post reports on the controversy, quoting Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (a DC organization):

"He does make things up. He made up a whole set of pesticide results last year and we caught him." After that program aired, Stossel apologized for citing tests on organic produce that, it turned out, were never conducted.

Memo to Ken Cook: the allegation that Stossel "made things up" is exceedingly flimsy. At most, he made a harmless error. He said "pesticide residue," when he should have said "bacterial residue." The point remains the same: there are residues on the allegedly "better," "safe" and "healthy" high-priced organic food which are — drum roll, please — UNHEALTHY. If you don’t adequately wash your organic produce, you might as well pucker up and kiss a cow’s posterior.

(By the way, Laissez Faire Books carries a large selection of Stossel’s shows on tape. They are magnificent).

Additionally, notice that the eco-nuts have not responded to the substantive charges against them, namely, that eating an "organic" cucumber is not better for you — in any way — than eating a cucumber whose fertilizer was made in a factory, instead of in a cow’s rectum. Amusingly, on the show in question, the spokeswoman for the organic food industry looked decidedly unhappy at Stossel’s questions about whether organic food — which is typically five times the price of traditional food, in my experience — was a waste of money.

Nor are the organic food types usually willing to confront the fact that if all food were grown organically, we would be unable to feed the population of the world, and we would also have to cut down a great many forests to cultivate more land for inefficient farming methods, causing global warming in the process. In this regard, see the tremendous interview in Reason magazine with agronomist Norman Borlaug. By the way, he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Those on the Left — including environmentalists, who are waging a terror-bombing campaign against those who dare to disagree with them — cannot answer Stossel’s questions, because the only answer to Stossel’s questions about organic food is to say "There are no benefits to eating organic food beyond the normal benefits of eating any food." And so they attempt to smear the reputation of a daring investigative journalist.

By the way, has the Washington Post reported on the eco-bombing of university research labs? And what is the view of Cook’s Environmental Working Group with respect to such terrorism?

Fight on, Stossel.

Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

© 2001 David Dieteman

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