New Stossel Special Tonight on ABC: Scared Stiff

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Don't miss John Stossel's brand new special, "Scared Stiff: Worry in America," which airs tonight at 9 pm eastern on ABC's 20/20: 

Are you scared stiff? There's a lot to be scared about. The media warn us about terrorism, bird flu, vicious crime, cancer, global warming and much more. But are all worries created equal? John Stossel expands on his very first ABC TV special, "Are We Scaring You to Death?," by looking at how we handle risks that face us today. He finds that what we worry about is often different from what's most likely to hurt us. Stossel's "Scared Stiff: Worried In America" airs as a special two-part "20/20," FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23 (9:01-10:00 & 10:00-11:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

Stossel talked about fear and its consequences in this classic Reason interview way back in 1997.  Also check out Stossel in Reason on corporate welfare, education, and how to fire an incompetent teacher.

And read this to see the transformative effect the magazine of "Free Minds and Free Markets" had on Stossel's thinking.

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  1. last time he ran a special like this, he actually showed statistics that undercut his argument. didn’t slow him down a bit, he plowed ahead without even acknowledging it…

    i shouldn’t bitch, he’s the most intelligent guy on tv.

  2. “i shouldn’t bitch, he’s the most intelligent guy on tv.”

    Midgets, tallest, etc.

  3. Much thanks for alerting me to this special, as I plan on spending the next 2 hours enjoying Stossel’s unique brand of journalism. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Rupert Murdoch, without whom the John Stossel specials would not exist.

  4. Wow. One minute in I’m thinking: this might suck. Eight minutes later it’s confirmed: A pop-psychological study of telegenic head-cases. See ya, John.

  5. I wonder if he will mention the demographic all this scaring is aimed at : soap opera women.

    The other 60% of women, and all of the men, wonder who watches this crap.

    But soap opera women are enough to support the news biz, so that’s what it’s got to be.

  6. Wow, I’m glad I taped that breast implant segment. The clip with the nurse doing the follow up with Edith, feeling them up and commenting on how nice and soft they are, is going to require repeated viewings.

  7. I think what some of the posters are trying to say is that anyone who doesn’t always agree with them on every issue is a confirmed idiot.

  8. Again,

    FIW, I don’t think Ron Hardin is an idiot. His “soap opera women” shit just bugs me.

  9. I’ve hated John Stossle and his hysterical yellow journalism ways even before I went through puberty. I think he was the first petty thing I ever habored an obessive hatred for to distract myself from the deep emotional pain in my life. (hatred is my anti-drug)

  10. ABC actually let him make one point that was positive with respect to gun rights. It was something about accidental deaths being more more likely to be caused by a swimming pool in the back yard than by guns on the premises.

    This may be the first sign of the pocky-clyps.

  11. Someone here likes soap operas.

  12. I didn’t watch it but am willing to bet he didn’t cover the war on terrorism. What are my odds of being offed by an Al-Qaeda frogman?

    And what ever happened to our color-coded terror alert level thingy anyway?

  13. Welp, woulda helped if I’dve clicked the link and read the third paragraph before I posted that.

  14. FIW, I don’t think Ron Hardin is an idiot. His “soap opera women” shit just bugs me.

    But he’s right. Read up on it.

  15. John Stossel is the only libertarian in network news. So it must be obligatory to disparage him on Hit and Run

  16. Thanks Warren. Stossel has been known to frequent Reason events. All the more reason to heap scorn on him. Go figure.

    Long live Geraldo.

  17. “And what ever happened to our color-coded terror alert level thingy anyway?”

    There is no longer a need for it since the Iraq War has eliminated the threat of terrorism.

  18. I liked it.
    Also, I watched it.

  19. “I didn’t watch it but am willing to bet he didn’t cover the war on terrorism. What are my odds of being offed by an Al-Qaeda frogman?”

    He did in fact cover how unlikely it is that you or someone close to you will be killed by a terrorist attack. I forget what the comparison was, but it was something along the lines of getting hit by an asteroid. He breifly also brought up the mooninite caper in Boston.

    My favorite part was when he showed that it’s possible that a long-haired wig may be a better safety device for cyclists than a helmet. No real hard data on that one, but an interesting thought experiment nonetheless.

  20. By the time Stossel is 94 (age Milton Friedman died), he will rank right up there with Milton with regard to baptizing a few sheeple and making them born-again and able to think a smidgeon.

    But speaking of terror. In the early days of the War on Terror, didn’t Bush or Cheney say, “If we are terrorized, then the terrorists have won”?
    Yet the War on Terror and the whole Homeland Security Department are proof that we remain chronically terrorized.

  21. As much as Stossel is basically on my “side” of the political spectrum, the fact is, he’s a dishonest ideological douchebag. Think Michael Moore is deceptive and preachy? Stossel is not even a whit better. His segments are pure propaganda, the interviews as creatively edited Daily Show, except not for comedy, and all sorts of key facts simply left out if they don’t fit his picture of things.

    That they are propaganda for views that I happen to agree with doesn’t help: in fact, it makes it all the more grating: it’s a lot like being a Christian and being preached to by Pat Robertson. ugh.

  22. plunge, you said it better than me.

    i wish i had a transcript of his earlier special, but i remember him using a pareto-type chart to show how teenagers die- his point was to not worry about anything beyond cars, which had the biggest bar on the chart. but he breezed right past the next bar, which was gun deaths, and that bar was a good fraction of the first bar’s size. okey-dokey. i’m second to no-one in my support for 2nd amendment rights, but not so much so that i’d dance past one of the consequences.

  23. Dang! Missed the show, did not see this post until it was over.

    Did he cover the killer bees? I have been on a killer bee kick lately wondering where they are now. Are they still massing on the US/Mexican border? Why is American society the only one that they ‘plan’ to wipe out? You know, stuff like that.

  24. I think he mentioned the killer bee scare. I can’t remember what was said- it was all starting to blend together at that point.

    I heard that the killer bees are massed at the Canadian border. They tried to invade Buffalo a few days ago but they got sidetracked by the strip joints in Niagara Falls. I’m not making this up, I swear.

  25. And every local affiliate will follow up with their latest “Are your children in danger? It’s every parent’s worst nightmare …” segment on the 11pm news.

  26. Guy,

    “Killer Bees” is no longer politically correct
    Now they are “African-ized Honey Bees”

    …..uh wait a sec

  27. Plunge nails it.

  28. Unlike most of the derogatory posters on this thread I actually watched the show, and enjoyed it immensely. He made some very good, pro-liberty points — and what’s more, made them in a way that is palatable to the general populace, something most of the idiots on this thread couldn’t conceive.

  29. I’m sure he’ll find that fear of terrorism is completely rational, whereas fear of global warming is absurd and ridiculous.

  30. Sorry to obsess about the breast-implant segment, but it was a little bizarre when he showcased the woman who tried to remove her own breast implant with a kitchen knife (“I just kept cutting and cutting until I hit the gel”), as an example of media hype forcing people to do crazy things. Methinks she was crazy long before the implants.

  31. The MEDIUM is the message. The thing that should really be scary is that so many people watched this show to either confirm or refute their already propaganda-tainted beliefs, just waiting to be told what and how to think.

  32. e,

    I think you’re kind of proving Stossel’s point. You seem to be convinced that there’s a propagandist with sinister motives around every corner just waiting to pounce and convert vast swaths of the nation into Stepford viewers completely under their control.

    Lighten up, Francis. It’s a stupd TV show and interesting simply because there’s very few shows on TV that go out of their way to argue that things _aren’t_ going to hell in a handbasket.

  33. Did he cover the killer bees? I have been on a killer bee kick lately wondering where they are now. Are they still massing on the US/Mexican border? Why is American society the only one that they ‘plan’ to wipe out? You know, stuff like that.

    Fortunately, with the timely elimination of John Belushi, the Killer Bee threat has been neutralized!

  34. Michael Moore covered the whole “fear-mongering to lead the folks” thing in his incredible thesis “Dude, where’s my country?” I keep it next to the works of O’Reilly,Ivins, and Savage….

  35. I live in Oklahoma, and the stupid local news came up for the first half-hour of the second hour talking about a tornado warning 500 miles away! Jackasses!

  36. what a bunch of self hatin’ duche bags you are.

  37. “Scared Stiff” would be a great name for a Halloween porno movie, if it isn’t already.

  38. The comments on H&R suck. I come to reason.com because I like to think analytically and I despise partisan politics (“My team is defined as right and moral.”). Yet the commenters here seem to be more of the same excrement I try to avoid.

    Case in point: plunge’s comment. Let me sum it up for you:

    “I hate John Stossel.”

    At least Jonathan C. Hohensee can be honest and open about his vile hatred without the loquacious drama.

    Did either of you actually watch the show, or did you see “John Stossel” and reflexively turn your brain from “think mode” to “hate mode”? I can accept that John Stossel is imperfect or even deceptive: anyone can appear “deceptive” if their values don’t jive with mine. (“But why did he OMIT that IMPORTANT INFOMRATION!?!? He’s LYING!!!!”) The point that seems to be missed here is that Stossel was arguing for something that directly affects the bottom line of his chosen profession: the cessation of fear. The news media deliberately plays on fear, as it’s our most powerful human motivator and the media can be seen as “objective” and “the good guys” by stepping in as the savior of public safety and public morality. It’s how they make their money, and Stossel was open about this. As a journalist. On a jouranlism program. For a journalistic organization.

    I thought Stossel’s program was as brave as it was rare. Even better, it touched on a few things that I myself felt needless fear about and inspired me to be more introspective about it in the effort to improve my own life. Does y’all’s hatin’ on John Stossel accomplish the same thing? Of course not. Not even close!

  39. I fled the show after the first act because the first act was bad television. I surmise from the comments above that the following acts were better? Happy to hear it, but the setup killed all interest for me. Anyhow, he can’t say anything anymore that I don’t already know, though I do approve of his continued attempt to cleanse the rubes and hayseeds of their superstitions. I can’t wait till he tackles Jesus. I’ll make popcorn for that one.

  40. Loundry

    “Case in point: plunge’s comment. Let me sum it up for you:

    “I hate John Stossel.”

    Not a fair description of his comment… he followed it with citations of WHY he hates John Stossel…

    Let’s sum up Loundry’s comment.

    I like John Stossel.

    Your analytical skills are wanting.

  41. I like John Stossel just fine, but if you can’t win the trust of the public without a lip ferret, then you’re no better than Thomas Friedman. Maybe a little better.

  42. On the whole, I thought it was pretty good. He was pretty fast and loose with some of his data/inferences, but on the whole, more watchable than most crap on TV. Especially the news.

  43. Neu Mejican,

    Not a fair description of his comment… he followed it with citations of WHY he hates John Stossel…

    I thought his reason (there was only one reason he gave) for why he hated him sucked. He wrote: “His segments are pure propaganda, the interviews as creatively edited Daily Show, except not for comedy, and all sorts of key facts simply left out if they don’t fit his picture of things.” Of course the show is edited. It’s a television show. Of course “editing” is going to reveal the bias of the creator. Everyone is biased. What else is new? Furthermore, I addressed this very objection in my reply — everyone is going to find some fact that is “key” which is “conveniently left out”. All this means is that the creator isn’t standing up for the values of the viewer, and the response to that is to label it “propaganda”. This very human reaction is as common as yeast in the air. What I object to is the hate which I think is unjustified, and the hateful comment which I think adds heat and no light to this discussion.

    Let’s sum up Loundry’s comment. I like John Stossel.

    Except that I followed it up with reasons as to WHY I like John Stossel, while also trashing plunge’s common rant. I think there are many good reasons to like Stossel, and I’m ready to defend those reasons. So far, the reason given to hate Stossel is “He’s a propagandist!” which I think is lacking in intelligence.

  44. Loundry,

    Not recognizing the difference between “editing” and propoganda lacks intelligence. Face it. Stossel is a hack who does sloppy research, cherry picks his evidence to support a partisan position, and over simplifies complex issues to make a partisan point.

    You defend him because his partisan bias agrees with yours. Plunge, who also agrees with that partisan position, is able to see past the bullshit and recognize that Stossel hurts your partisan position with his sloppy journalism.

  45. “The point that seems to be missed here is that Stossel was arguing for something that directly affects the bottom line of his chosen profession: the cessation of fear. The news media deliberately plays on fear, as it’s our most powerful human motivator and the media can be seen as “objective” and “the good guys” by stepping in as the savior of public safety and public morality. It’s how they make their money, and Stossel was open about this. As a journalist. On a jouranlism program. For a journalistic organization.”

    Stossel recognizes, at least, that this kind of story has as much sales potential as the fear mongering. Broadcasters recognize that they can play to both sides of an issue. Look at all the stories about all the stories on scandel X. Followed by coverage of scandel X, and then more stories about how the media is hyping scandel X. This type of journalism, which Stossel practices almost exclusively, is not a sign of bravery but knavery.

    Did you turn your brain from think mode to love mode when you saw Stossel was on?

    Full disclosure. I watched the show. Nothing but fluff. Lacked substance. Nothing new or interesting presented.

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