ABC’s John Stossel Visits, Makes Impression on Hopkins Campus

John Stossel, Emmy award-winning journalist and ABC’s 20/20 co-anchor, criticized government regulations and the media when he spoke at Shriver Hall as the third speaker of this year’s MSE Symposium.

Stossel has made himself famous by his weekly segment “Give me a break” and his one-hour specials covering everything from the mechanics of mating to uncovering untrue sciences. Dressed in a jacket, slacks, and white tennis shoes, Stossel discussed the safety of America through the eyes of government regulation.

“Capitalism is vilified these days,” Stossel said, remarking on the idea that he said pervades college campuses.

But building upon his 20 years as a consumer reporter where he reported with that attitude, saying, “[News companies] paid me to bite the hand that fed them,” Stossel said he learned that, “The market does amazing things when we let it.”

Stossel then proceeded to argue how he believes government regulations actually hurt the economy rather than help it.

“The government doesn’t really do things very well,” Stossel remarked in the lecture, where he also took shots at Ralph Nader, his employer ABC, and trial lawyers.

Additionally, the lecture also brought up the issue of an informed public.

“[Media] has done an embarrassing job of making an informed public,” Stossel said, explaining how so many sensationalistic stories reported in the media have not put things into perspective. “How did we get to be so scared?” he asked.

Stossel then jumped into auditorium aisles, conducting impromptu interviews with students, showing how the media’s fear perception has distorted reality.

“I thought he was really entertaining and open with us and honest. And I like how he took off his jacket and jumped into the audience,” sophomore Shruthi Mather remarked later.

The informal and open atmosphere continued through the question and answer period as people approached the microphones with questions ranging from healthcare to terrorism to advice for aspiring journalists.

Even the occasional “give me a break” was yelled in strong disagreement.

“I’m glad he presented arguments instead of statements, as previous speakers have done,” freshman Leila Lackey said. “However, it wasn’t wholesale acceptance.”

Stossel has made a career out of the in-depth, consumer reporting that has become his trademark.

In June of this year, he was named co-anchor of ABC News’ highly rated program 20/20.

He has worked for that particular program for over twenty years. For the last nine he has been doing in-depth specials for the network. Stossel has won 19 Emmy awards as well as a George Polk Award for outstanding local reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award.

As the lecture closed, the upstairs Stossel stayed until all autographs in the upstairs reception were signed and everyone who wanted to was able to discuss his two cents with him.

“Sometimes I feel like his position is radical on some issues, but it’s needed to make a point, so I don’t blame him,” Ph.D. student Ciprian Tutu said.

“It was amazing. We had a full house and the speech was really good. It was the best event of the year so far,” junior Payal Patel, one of the co-chairs of the Symposium said.

In an interview at the end of the night, Stossel wrapped up by saying, “Capitalism is OK. Nothing has lifted more people out of misery than this.” However, as far as how to change the media image projected to the public, Stossel said, “Beats me. I’ve tried my best just by talking about it.”