John Stossel is the best-known libertarian in the news media. As the co-anchor of the long-running and immensely popular ABC News program 20/20, auteur of a continuing series of specials on topics ranging from corporate welfare to educational waste to laws criminalizing consensual adult behavior, and author of best-selling books such as Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, Stossel brings a consistent message of liberty to millions of viewers on a weekly basis.
It wasn't always this way. Born in 1947, Stossel started out as a standard-issue consumer reporter, working in Oregon and New York before joining the staff of Good Morning America and, later, 20/20. He did scare stories about everything from pharmaceutical rip-offs to exploding coffee pots. Then, in the 1980s, he encountered reason, which radically changed his thinking about the benefits of laissez faire in economics and personal lifestyles.
"It was a revelation," he writes in his 2004 memoir, Give Me a Break. "Here were writers who analyzed the benefits of free markets that I witnessed as a reporter. They called themselves libertarians, and their slogan was 'Free Minds and Free Markets.' I wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but what they wrote sure made sense."
Reason.tv caught up with Stossel in January in Los Angeles, where the newsman was filming a special episode of 20/20 based on six Reason.tv documentaries featuring Drew Carey. Among the topics: the desirability of open borders, the need to reform the nation's drug laws, and the case against universal preschool. Ted Balaker, a Reason.tv producer, talked with Stossel about bailout mania, his hopes for the Obama years, and his attempt to educate a generation of school kids with a video series called Stossel in the Classroom.
For video of this interview, including iPod and HD versions, embed code, and supporting links, go here.
For an edited transcript of this interview, go here.
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