Cascadia Policy Wines and Dines Corporate Shill John Stossel
ABC's fact-challenged antienvironmental crusader John Stossel cavorted with cronies at Portland's posh Multnomah Athletic Club earlier this month, courtesy Cascadia Policy Institute, Portland's resident procorporate "Libertarian thinktank." John Borowski crashed the party and gives us the details.
I Didn't Call John Stossel a "Corporate Shill", But I Should Have!
An Open Letter to Anne Sweeney, President/ABC Television Group
by John F. Borowski
During a private dinner to honor John Stossel (Portland, Oregon 2/5/06) the self-proclaimed "libertarian reporter" introduced me to a group of his followers: "John is a teacher who goes around the country telling people I am a corporate shill." I had just handed an email to Stossel and its contents were very telling. An industry front group was soliciting individuals to badmouth environmental concerns: on behalf of John Stossel. I told Mr. Stossel, "use this information in your talk tonight." It would never enter his address.
I was there in person to ask Mr. Stossel three major points. One, why does he manipulate data to create news? Secondly, why was his "Tampering with Nature" program a "rigged event" where teachers and children were duped into a scathing misrepresentation of environmental education (that email was tied to this program)? And lastly, why wouldn't he answer a single phone call or email (after dozens of tries)? Reviewing pieces I have written about John Stossel, I did not come across the term "corporate shill." What I learned about John Stossel that evening is that he is indeed "a person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain." He is indeed a "corporate whore", where truth is meaningless, statistics can be manipulated and journalistic integrity perverted. He is the poster boy of a non-existent liberal press: where facts are cherry-picked and the hard questions are avoided.
Thankfully, a friend picked up the $125 tab to break bread with John Stossel. A private dinner would follow with one of Mr. Stossel's "anti-regulatory homilies." Held at the impressive Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland, courtesy of the Cascade Policy Institute, Stossel titled his discussion, "Freedom and its Enemies." The private dinner was awash with free-market boosters, where environmental regulations are seen as "anti-growth" and overbearing. Stossel's talk was a generic and entertaining attempt to belittle environmental and other safety regulations. Apparently, Mr. Stossel has little acquaintance with environmental data and casts doubt on everything from climate change to the dangers of pesticides.
I have written extensively about John Stossel's attempt to belittle environmental education. "Disney and Stossel Dance in the Gutter with "Tampering with Nature" 6/19/02 and "Teachers, Before Buying "Tampering with Nature" for the Classroom, Know the Truth about John Stossel" 8/04/04 both on CommonDreams.org.
Stossel, once known for his investigative reporting, apparently got religion: the corporate kind. Stossel is aligned with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market, anti-regulatory think-tank. The Center for Media and Democracy has done extensive studies on CEI, especially a subsidiary group: The Cooler Heads Coalition. The Center states that the Cooler Heads Coalition,
"are chaired by former CEI director Marlo Lewis and directed by Myron Ebell, CEI's Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy. The Cooler Heads Coalition was formed on May 6, 1997, "to dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific and risk analysis." In March 2001, the nonprofit Clean Air Trust named Ebell its "clean air villain of the month," citing his "ferocious lobbying charge to persuade President Bush to reverse his campaign pledge to control electric utility emissions of carbon dioxide."
Interestingly, CEI has been an outspoken opponent of environmental education as well. Is it just concidence that John Stossel is an avid opponent of environmental education and often casts doubt on climate change information? Ironically, Stossel casts doubt on climate change in his "Tampering with Nature" misinformation piece: using scientists like Patrick Michaels. Exxonsecrets.org has published data on Patrick Michaels and it is damning:
"Michaels publishes the "World Climate Review," a newsletter on global warming funded by the Western Fuels Association. Dr. Michaels has acknowledged that 20% of his funding comes from fossil fuel sources: ( link to www.mtn.org) Known funding includes $49,000 from German Coal Mining Association, $15,000 from Edison Electric Institute and $40,000 from Cyprus Minerals Company, an early supporter of People for the West, a "wise use" group. He received $63,000 for research on global climate change from Western Fuels Association, above and beyond the undisclosed amount he is paid for the World Climate Report/Review. According to Harper's magazine, Michaels has received over $115,000 over the past four years from coal and oil interests. Michaels wrote "Sound and Fury" and "The Satanic Gases" which were published by Cato Institute. Dr. Michaels signed the 1995 Leipzig Declaration."
So much for objective reporting Mr. Stossel, you should be ashamed of yourself. But, it is obvious that shame is not one of Stossel's stronger character traits.
During the exclusive and charming dinner with Stossel, I found him surrounded by his "groupies" and decided to ask him a few questions. Upon learning my name, he prefaced my questions with the proclaimation that I was calling him a corporate shill. This brought giggles from his admirers. I asked him why he would manipulate children in his attempt to debase environmental education and why his producer, Ted Balaker, lied to me on three separate occcasions? He side-stepped the questions. Growing impatient of my direct, yet polite questions, his handlers tried to nudge me away. I told Mr. Stossel, I would, "ask some questions in front of the audience during his lecture."
True to form, Mr. Stossel, refused to answer my three questions in front of some 250 plus people in the general audience. He deftly side-stepped direct questions, giving an array of generalistic and obfuscating replies to my simple requests for some truth. I received some hisses as I left the microphone.
"Some truth" is an endangered species on the mainstream media's airwaves. ABC is a lapdog to the corporate giant, the Disney Corporation. Despite repeated attempts to have a dialogue with the powers at ABC/Disney, I have found myself a common citizen with no access to the powerful brokers of half-truth and omission.
John Stossel used children to further his anti-environmental education agenda and his vehicle was the "Wonderful World of Disney." Think tanks can buy access and fabricate news. The little guy, like me, can only hope that a remnant of the "liberal press" will hear our stories and put us on equal footing with the likes of John Stossel. John Stossel is not in my league when it comes to the truth, yet, his ability to invent news is endless: he has a venue on ABC's 20/20 program.
I urge Anne Sweeney, President of Disney's ABC Television Group to investigate Stossel's pre-determined "investigative reporting." I suggest that common citizens email the 20/20 program at email@example.com and tell John Stossel that he is indeed a corporate shill and should report on issues, not subvert them.
The "liberal press" is missing in action, as stories like mountain top removal of coal and climate change go under reported. At least, 60 Minutes did a good job of reporting climate change this past Sunday evening. I wonder if John Stossel watched? He could learn a thing or two about the importance of a free and unbiased press.
John F. Borowski, is an environmental and marine science teacher from Philomath, Oregon. His pieces have appeared in major newspapers and websites. He currently works on an "Honest Education Program" for the Native Forest Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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