Things That Should Surprise No One
Remember John Stossel? He brings the stupid like very few can.
Grocery insurance? That might be the stupidest thing ever.
Stossel’s errors are often so obvious that one wonders how they could have ended up on the air. In a 20/20 report on medical research (10/11/99), Stossel complained that too much funding was going to AIDS research, claiming that spending on the disease was “25 times more than on Parkinson’s, which kills more people.”
In fact, AIDS killed more than 16,000 people in the United States in 1999–down from 43,000 in 1995. Parkinson’s, which is not itself generally fatal but contributes to other illnesses, has a mortality rate of 2 per 100,000 to less than 1 per 100,000, depending on the demographic group (BC Medical Journal, 4/01)–which works out to a death toll in the United States of less than 4,000 per year.
Stossel once reported (11/12/99) that “98 percent [of Catholic school students] graduate, vs. 49 percent for the public schools.” Actually, according to data from the Department of Education, no state reports a public high school graduation rate as low as Stossel’s figure–in 1995-96, the last data available when Stossel made his claim, the rates ranged from 53.2 in the District of Columbia to 89.9 in Vermont (Postsecondary Education Opportunity, 9/99).
What may seem like honest, even careless mistakes are in fact distortions in service of Stossel’s agenda. In the first case, Stossel was slamming the “AIDS lobby,” who know how to “make money and influence the government,” for getting too much government research funding. In the latter example, Stossel’s point was that private schools are more efficient than what he calls “government” schools. When Stossel gets a fact wrong, it’s nearly always in a way that promotes his ideology.
What a fucking idiot.
Stossel’s treatment of sources varies greatly depending on whether or not they agree with him. His “question” to an OSHA consultant (1/21/00): “Your critics say you’re a bunch of clueless busybodies trying to micromanage everybody’s life.” In a segment on New York’s welfare-to-work program (3/9/98), Stossel tells workfare participants that “you didn’t get a real job on your own. Everybody says this is a great program.” As if to prove that work was plentiful, he proceeded to show them the help-wanted ads.
Or consider Stossel’s retort to Linda Greer of the Natural Resources Defense Council, referring to the group’s criticism of the chemical Alar (4/21/94): “Isn’t it possible you killed people by making apples more expensive?” Interviewing a lawyer who focuses on violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (11/8/02), Stossel suggested that he was really just running a shakedown racket: “What would you call it if I came up to you in a parking lot and said, ‘Give me money or I’ll smash your car?'”
At least he’ll be on a smaller soapbox at Fox Business.