When he first began his career as a crusading consumer journalist in the 1970s, John Stossel believed fervently that higher taxes and greater government involvement in the marketplace were integral checks against corporate greed and malfeasance. With an irreverent, intelligent and skeptical tone that riled corporations – but resonated with viewers – Stossel’s career flourished, leading him to the pinnacle of his profession at ABC News.
But then Stossel experienced a metamorphosis in his thinking. After observing the chronic, costly failure of so many of the numerous big government solutions that he and his media colleagues repeatedly prescribed for society’s ills, Stossel reexamined his fundamental beliefs.
“I started out by viewing the marketplace as a cruel place, where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people,” Stossel explained shortly after undergoing his transformation. “But after watching the regulators work, I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer.”
In fact, Stossel realized that in most cases regulators and bureaucrats only made matters worse, spending billions of tax dollars on so-called “solutions” that invariably wound up creating larger problems. Needless to say, Stossel’s conversion to free market, libertarian principles – which he trumpeted every bit as loudly as he had previously trumpeted government interventionism – was not warmly received by his colleagues.
"Once I started applying the same skepticism to government, I stopped winning awards," the 19-time Emmy Award-winner said.
Today, Stossel is at the center of another media debate – only this time he’s not just telling the story, he’s a big part of the story.
In October of 2009 Stossel – who has also published two best-selling books – announced that he was leaving ABC News after 28 years to take a position with Fox News, which is widely regarded as the most “pro-free market” of America’s major TV news networks. Ordinarily a reporter moving from one network to another isn’t considered big news, but in Stossel’s case it’s significant.