ABC Fired Stossel?

While clearing up some of the misinformation surrounding his recent career change, this veteran reporter also aims to clear up the misinformation about capitalism in his new career - with a nod to Rand.

People keep forwarding me emails and blog posts saying ABC fired me. Internet forums claim I was fired because I aired a story about the downside of government-controlled health care. This is silly. It's not even logical. No one can broadcast anything on "20/20" without ABC's approval.

The truth is that my departure from ABC was by mutual consent.

I left to go to the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network because I want more time to report on free markets and economic liberty, the kind of reporting I do in this column. With two 24-hour news channels, Fox has more room for that.

Today, finally, my new Fox Business show begins! It will air every Thursday at 8 p.m. (and will repeat Fridays at 10 p.m. — opposite "20/20" — heh, heh, heh).

My first show will be on the "climate crisis." Or it might be on Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged." I've prepared both shows because I can't decide which I should do.

What do you think?

I'm partial to an "Atlas" show because I reread the novel recently and was stunned. It was as if Rand had seen the future. Writing half a century ago, she predicted today's explosion of big government in shockingly accurate detail.

The "Preservation of Livelihood Law." The "Equalization of Opportunity Law." The "Steel Unification Plan."

Don't these sound like laws passed by the current Congress?

All were creations of Rand's villain, Wesley Mouch, the evil bureaucrat who regulates business and eventually drives the productive people out of business. Who is today's Wesley Mouch? Barney Frank? Chris Dodd. Tim Geithner? I'll ask my TV audience to vote.

"Atlas" is still a big bestseller today. This year, it reached as high as NO. 15 on Amazon's bestseller list. Pretty amazing.

Clearly there's some magic in "Atlas Shrugged." The Library of Congress once asked readers which books made the biggest difference in their lives. "Atlas" came in second, after the Bible.

Yet elites and the MSM hate Ayn Rand. When "Atlas" first came out, The New York Times wrote that "the book is written out of hate."

Maybe that's why no "Atlas" movie has been made. Angelina Jolie once wanted to play heroine Dagny Taggart, but it never happened. Rand's books still sell millions of copies, yet college "women's studies" courses rarely mention her. One professor says her department head asked, "Why would you study that fascist?"

Why such antipathy?

Rand celebrates business and free markets. The elites don't like business. In every newsroom where I've worked, and at my college,Princeton, capitalism was derided as selfishness.

And lately, as a failure. On one website, someone wrote: "You'd think it was a joke, when the global economy was collapsing because of greed, that anyone might turn seriously to the purple prose of crypto-fascist (!) Ayn Rand and think it was the answer to anything."

Well, I, for one, think her prose answers much.

The embrace of freer markets has lifted more people out of the misery of poverty than any other system -- ever. The World Bank says that in just the last 30 years, half a billion people who once lived on less than $1.25 a day have moved out of poverty.

But now, Wesley Mouch — I mean, Congress and the bureaucrats — tell us they are going to "fix" capitalism, as if their previous "fixes" didn't hamstring the free market and create the problems they propose to solve.

Who are they kidding? Rand had it right. She learned it the hard way in Soviet Russia. What makes a country work is leaving people free — free to take risks, to invent things — and to keep the rewards of their work.

Critics say Ayn Rand promotes selfishness. I call it "enlightened self interest." When free people act in their own self-interest, society prospers.

So there's my first show, maybe.

On second thought, with Barack Obama heading to Copenhagen promising America will cut its greenhouse gasses by 83 percent (not 82, not 84 — exactly 83), I may do my first show on global warming.

I'll decide soon — when I begin my new career.

John Stossel hosts the TV show "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He is the author of Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media (January 2005) as well as Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel — Why Everything You Know Is Wrong (May 2007), which is now available in paperback.

30 comments from readers  

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You speak for many of us who are shrugging right now.
Congratulations on your new show, John! Everyone got lucky... As a Rand fan, I would love to see her featured on your show. The climate "crisis" is so bogus that it begs for your stiletto, and I can see that you would be conflicted. You will be setting the tone with the first show, however, so I would suggest that you build on a broad philosophical foundation with Rand. There will always be some ridiculous fiasco for you to demolish next time.
Congratulations on your new post: if your in person commentary has the quality of your written commentary, then we will all be well served. I vote for the Atlas Shrugged episode but write now to invite comments on the following issue which I believe is addressed by Rand (and Dagny) but is so fundamentally absent in recent public discussions of 'capitalism' that it threatens to be the undoing of capitalism and the empowerment of the Mouch's of the world: namely, the 'enlightened self-interest' required for an employer to compensate its employees with a decent and living wage and to preserve their 'job' and employment (so they can be meaningful participants in the capitalist system). I am almost positive that Dagny went to great lengths to keep her staff employed (and even took a pay-cut herself) during the downturn in the book; in fact, I recall Dagny feeling the full weight of Rand's moral compulsion to 'take care of' her employees, as above. If this is true, then the modern politics must address the employer's 'self-interest' in protecting their employees.

What appears to be most empowering to our modern day Mouches is the simple fact that the capitalist employers have disregarded taking care of their employees and instead focus(ed) mainly (possibly solely) on taking money / maximizing money at the direct expense of their employees, by for example, not raising wages, not controlling health costs, off-shoring jobs, closing factories, expatriating capital, and making risky investments and the like. While "the unions" may be the answer to some of the above questions, the greater philosophical issue is not being addressed in public. I will state my issue for comment and invite you and others carrying the torch to address this fundamental gap in the 'greed is good' mantra:

Issue: What obligations, if any, does an employer have 'as a matter of Rand's philosophy' to provide for its employees by way of compensation, health and personal/job security so as to keep and maintain a class of persons capable of meaningfully participating in the capitalist system?

I submit that if the answer be "none" then that answer is both (1) incorrect, insofar as Rand appears to recognize some such duty as a matter of 'enlightened self-interest', and (2) the modern political "end of capitalism" because the recent events have laid bare that a society in which capital literally 'feeds off of' its labor will consume itself. Until this issue is addressed publicly, openly, clearly and succinctly, the Mouch's of the world will run the table and we will have none but ourselves to blame...
I vote for Ayn Rand because everything you mentioned is answered in "Atlas Shrugged".

You might throw this in, too. In Alex Haley's "Roots", CeCe opened her own shop in town selling one size fits all pants. They were wild to be sure, but the design was her own and she no longer had to depend on anyone to give her a good life. She wasn't rich, but she was productive, well off and happy. It's the same in Alex Haley's sequel to "Roots" where his ancestors lived and built businesses in towns they also built by their own ideas and hands.

I do wonder, however, whether the selfishness of entrepreneurial business in the minds of the ever restrictive Left includes the obvious wealth and "selfishness" of haute couture that most of them wear. That's a business they've overlooked.
John, your column this morning was a breath of fresh air! I hope your show's topic tonight will be Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged." I am reading the book for the 3rd time, shaking my head over the fact that all Ms. Rand wrote 50 years ago is coming true today. When I first read it in the late 1960's, it had a major impact on my life. I didn't want the book to end. I wanted more time to spend with Hank Reardon, Dagny, Francisco and John Galt.

I enjoyed you on ABC's 20/20, looked forward to your contributions. I will enjoy you even more on Fox! Congratulations! Your show will be a success.
It would have been helpful if John had given more information about his ABC departure than simply the fact it was "mutual." I would love to know how ABC prevented him from being free as a journalist with your presentations.

Yet in the aggregate, this article is quite refreshing along with knowing John will be having a weekly TV program.
I, too, recently re-read Atlas Shrugged and also was amazed at the similarities between the fictional 'then' and the reality of 'now'.

I hope you do the show on this topic...America needs to wake up.

Thanks for being an 'alarm clock' even tho' the 'snooze alarm' is far too often hit by switching the TV channel!
I'd vote for the Rand episode. Dennis Miller just gave her top hero status last night on O'Reilly. He cited "John Q Public", inspired by Rand's Objectivist priniciples as demonstrated in the Tea Parties, as runner-up for top hero.

I say the time is right to return to our most base premises. A deep probing of Rand's work contrasted against modern day events would provide a real education. Reagan said every generation must learn freedom, it does not flow through the veins automatically. Stossel, teach us!
Congratulations John! Sounds like the right thing for you. I've been enjoying your work for many years. You were like a lone beacon of rationality in a sea of mush.

First show? I vote for Rand. She is after all the fundamental reason why you are at Fox. What better way to let the world know where you're coming from; and why you've made this move.
It is also about time people started giving Ayn Rand credit for being the major intellectual power behind the Libertarian movement in all its various manifestations.

Why do they hate her? Why do even most libertarians cherry pick her ideas?
Because she challenged altruism's basic premise that living life for others is the only good life. This challenge strikes at the fundamental, unchallenged foundation of all their thinking and evaluations. It's frightening for them and leads to agonizing self doubts they do not wish to experience. This need to live for others is experienced like a "self evident truth" by some people just as its opposite was experienced as a "self evident truth" by Ayn Rand.

There is a fundamental conflict inside all of us between two opposing forces. On the one hand our need and desire to live for ourselves and on the other an empathetic feeling for others coupled with an unarticulated understanding that we need others to help us live and experience life to it's fullest.

So we bounce back and forth between the two modes of being in both our personal and public lives. What is needed is a rational resolution of this conflict. Rational selfishness and voluntary charity is the only solution I can see right now; but what is really needed is a new concept. A new concept of "being" that bypasses this idea that we have to live only for ourselves to be practical or only for others to be moral.
Any ideas?

Here's one. Begin your show with an acknowledgment of your intellectual debt to Ayn Rand and a promise to revisit her ideas in subsequent shows. Then use her ideas to segeway into a show on Global Warming. (Productive man as an evil despoiler of the earth. Hatred of capitalism (demands of reality) as a manifestation of selfishness. Abandonment of objective standards of truth so they can believe what they get the idea.)

Of course man made global warming might be true; but that's not the point. The point is that there is no reliable evidence yet for that assertion; and we are in far more danger from abandoning our standards for truth than we will ever be from Global Warming...manmade or otherwise.

Good luck...I'll be watching.
There are great reasons to do both programs. It would be nice to see you start off with Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged from the standpoint of emphasizing how important her work is. But, with the EPA declaring CO2 a pollutant and with Obama going to Copenhagen to pledge to eliminate American jobs, increase our energy costs, and decrease the reliability of our electricity supply, that is a pretty pressing issue.

The important thing is that you will do a good job with either issue. Go get 'em!
Don't you think your introductory show ought to introduce what you stand for? Go with Atlas, and godspeed to you.
Great article! I really enjoyed reading it. I hope John Stossel does several shows on Objectivism (maybe a show on each part of her philosophy that you can tie concretely to people's daily lives, trying to jolt them into reality).

Without a rational philosophy, horrific ideas such as Obama's CO2 emission limitation will just keep coming.....And, I'd guess and hope that if he does a show on something like the CO2 emissions, he'll show how that parallels a particular law passed by Wesley Mouch and show in concrete detail the horrors such a law will lead to in our daily lives.

John probably knows the horrors that will occur, but if he doesn't, I know some Objectivist writers/thinkers who will be happy to help him come up with some 'high-voltage' jolts to use on his shows.

Thanks John, for your writing and efforts to fight bad ideas!
Please in no way interpret this as being disparaging, but I am compelled to address the issue of selfishness.

A lot of people try to apologize for "selfishness" in regards to Objectivism. I would just like to make a couple of points in this regards.

Ayn Rand wrote a book called "The Virtue of Selfishness."
I don't think it is proper to apologize or water down Objectivism regarding something so fundamental. What is needed is to fight for concepts.

As Ayn Rand pointed out, selfishness is in fact a morally neutral term as such. It is up to Philosophers to argue the morality of the term. If you breakdown the word into its component parts you have, Self - ish and ness

Self - means just what you think
ish - having to do with
ness - pertaining to

How is that evil? (Hint: It is only evil if you view men as sacrificial animal - See Religion)

Ayn used to say the Selfishness was, "a top virtue or EQUAL to rationality."

Perhaps it is time to start educating people that Selfishness as defined be Objectivism is MORAL. (Or as Ayn put it, "It isn't time to return to morality, it is time to discover it!")

As you know, Ethics is more fundamental than Politics(ergo Capitalism) so if we are going to fight a battle the best thing to do is fight in terms of the deepest of fundamentals.

Having said that, I am grateful for your new show Mr Stossel and wish the greatest of success.

I will leave you with one last quote

"You have Good Karma!"
- Good Karma and the Zodiacs
Do the "climate crises", it's hot now with the damning emails discovered and the mounting Gore lies. I hope you included Lord Monckton in your report. Rand can wait, she will always be there. Go figure, a Russian immigrant keeping capitalism alive through a novel.
A voice in the wilderness! John Stossel we need you. I can't believe what is happening to businesses right now. The government thinks it creates jobs. I just don't see a political figure who is standing up for corporate America.
I was born and raised in the Philippines, and finding Rand's novels was like a lifeline to me, peopled with the kind of men and women I wanted to know and describing a way of living that I was starting to imagine. I often read the Galt's Gulch portion of Atlas Shrugged to lift my spirits, when feeling discouraged -- there is so much joy and happiness in this section, particularly, that I have to laugh at the description of the book as full of hatred. It truly captured the sense of love of life and hope and optimism I had as a young girl (and still have).
John, I look forward to watching your new show. I have great admiration for your courage and intelligent reporting.
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Nothing works like naming the hypocrisy of the Hollywood hucksters and Washington elites, and making us snicker about them. You do it so well.

What is unfathomable to me is the average person's automatic acceptance of man as "evil" just for being man and having the needs of any organic being. Once people stipulate they are "evil" for acting in their own self-interest, it becomes possible to collectively guilt-trip them into doing the unthinkable.

I have to conclude (as did Rand) that it is the result of 4000-plus years of rigorous religious conditioning. However, I believe there is a natural response involved too (...)

We can fix this. The Internet is producing daily "cracks in the wall" of what was threatening to become the most technologically efficient totalitarian stronghold ever built.

Thanks to this, you will not be silenced, nor Ayn Rand discredited, even if they did opt to fire you, and ban her works. Hurrah!
Do your show on Rand. I'm not an American and don't live in the States. It's more important for the world than trying to tread on the toes of some transitory polititian in America.
I found it interesting that when I visited one of the original colonies in Virgina, the reason some of the early ones failed was because the people had no personal stake in its success. The colonists would "let somebody else" handle the issue. The colony would fail. The successful ones were when the sponsor would offer partial ownership to each potential colonist.
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I wish you the best of luck with your new program. I have watched you on 20/20 for years and I enjoy how you report on stories that most people would consider taboo or out of the ordinary. I especially enjoyed your report on farming tigers.
What an interesting way to make your point!
What is your new show going to be called, so that I don't miss it?

I believe that Ayn Rand changed my life. In reality, I changed my life...but it wasn't until I ready Atlas that I felt like I had the answers and reality became clear to me. It was just after I finished high school and I don't believe that I would have excelled at my career without Ayn Rand's support. Not personally of course...just in philosophical spirit.

I have been reading the Letters of Ayn Rand and I am so impressed how she would reach out to those whom she believed were like minded. It didn't matter who. They could be artists, politicians, friends or newcomers. A selfish mind is a productive mind, no matter who it belongs to. I have noticed that every single person how has not ready even one chapter of her books will vehemently debate how wrong and dangerous she is. I always keep 2 copies of Atlas in my home, in case I run across an intelligent individual who is willing to open their mind to something new. I have very few takers. It is frusterating to hear a person have an opinion on someone they won't even bother to read. I even suggest Anthem....which isn't as intimidating as Atlas and a beautiful story no matter your mind set. I would really like people to read Introduction to Objective Epistemology before they read Atlas...but that is wishful thinking.

What I am saying is that I would adore a television program about how relevant she is now and always. Making comparisons to her philosophy and what is going on in our country today and how we got to this place. But I wonder if it wouldn't just be stroking my (and her fan's) ego by talking about her on national t.v. I have never come across a soul who is willing to give her a try...who hasn't already on their own volition. If they don't know her, they don't want to. I feel that this is very Dominique Francon of me...tossing the vase out the window because the world can't appreciate it the way it ought to be appreciated, therefore it shouldn't exist. On the other hand, Ayn herself reached out to like minded individuals. Sometimes she failed in her quest, sometimes she succeeded, but she wasn't afraid to talk, discuss, wear the big gold sign of the dollar with pride and tell anyone who would listen to be self sufficient, self helpful and most can't step on the little guy because you will only harm your own self interest in the end.

Best of luck to you, John and Happy Holidays!

Well Mr. Stossell there you go again, offering up not one but two choices to gain a bit of insight on topics that are dear to my heart. Climate change as I hope to retain the right to exhale and Rand as prophet of reason. ABC's brand has depreciated a bit over the years. To bad that they lost the last true expositional reporters they had with your leaving. Looks like ABC News has made the transition from a news organization to an entertainment show complete.

Those women studies professors have no idea what fascism was or is, it's just an epitaph nowadays. Funny, I thought fascism was the binding of business interests with government, which Rand found anathema. The recent real life stories of AIG or GMC are such alignments. Know anybody who might consider addressing those stories?

I hope that your show can help end years of indoctrination and suppression of the wisdom of the spirit of reason that is key to the survival of a person and a people. Be careful about that "enlightened self interest" position though as our President referred to it in his acceptance speech at Oslo. I can't imagine what that phrase means if anything in the context it was used. You may be conjuring up in the mind of those professors and fellow travelers something altogether different that what those words once meant. All the best to you in your new digs.
Mr. Stossel: an article after my own heart. I have been an objectivist since I took her courses back in 1962. Some replies to your questions. Capitalism is no good because it is not Socialism. Only those who cannot live off the avails of other peoples work and productivity consider Capitalism Selfish. Selfish is a good word, it means "rational self-interest," They turned it into a bad word because it denied them the right someone elses money. In the final analysis there is not one redeeming feature about Socialism, the only evil possible to men in the social, economic sense. It is predicated on the Biblical ethic that wealth should belong to all, regardless of merit. Isn't wealth an eternal pie and the rich and greedy are grabbing the biggest slices? How can a working man producing his own wealth be greedy? So what do you call the guy who wants a chunk of the working guys money as a right, without doing anything to earn it, but being alive? And then calling him greedy because he won't give him any. That is the Ethos of the whole world we live in today. Today, morality is justification for doing these wrong and evil things. Good luck in your new venture.
Which story would Ayn Rand run first?
Were this submitted in time, I'd vote for the Rand episode. In answer to Barbara Wawa Walters annual 'most fascinating people list' bit (ever see the 1965ish gasoline company TV advertizement she starred in as 'the sexy gal'? <<
I say the time is right to return to our most base premises. A deep probing of Rand's work contrasted against modern day events would provide a real education. Reagan said every generation must learn freedom, it does not flow through the veins automatically. Stossel, teach us.

Congratulations on your move to Fox Mr. Stossel. I don't get the business channell and I wish you were on the regular or local station on more than a regular basis so we would have something better than the endless daily repeats they subject us to.

Just how you will fit in with the worlds biggest stuffed shirt,"motor mouth" O'Reilly or "beside the point" Cavuto, remains to be seen. Add a daily op ed from Sarah Palin and they would have a charismatic audience grab never before seen.

Then there is the problem of Undeniable Latino bigotry towards the most loyal friendly population America has ever had in Mexico and embodied by way to many "Foxites" and .....

Also there is the problem with the unsufferable borderline religious fanaticism. Just how that meshes with a Libertarian much an Objectivist,leaves me in suspensful anticipation.But nevertheless I don't want to be guilty of looking a gift horse in the mouth. Go for it!.

If I had a vote I'd have the show on Ayn Rand . Nothing like starting off with a bang with a real attention grabber and spark striker.

To me the candidate for todays Wesly Mouch is a no brainer. Paul Krugman, editorial columnist and Economic's Proff. at your old Alma Mater; the NY Times writer and columnist is such a match at to be erie. I'd love to see the two of you go head to head, he wouldn't fight fair but then we expect that.

Although I have many reservations about Sarah Palin I have none about John Stossel. "Atlas" Ayn Rand an Palin all cause the leftocrats to wet their pants in either fear or hate. I cant think of a more delicious prospect and I, an athiest wish you godspeed on your new endeavor!

Tom H
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Glad to see you going to a REAL news network, John! I vote for ATLAS SHRUGGED then "global warming"...I mean "climate change"...I mean "a convenient lie" know what I mean!
Best of luck on your new career Mr. Stossel. You're the best and I'm glad you moved to Fox.

Keep in mind, the members of the "old standard" historically have always hated the rigors and work that competition and free markets impose upon the 'powers that be". Sophism was created (and taught in Athens) at the time Socrates started pushing the "capacity for reason" to the masses.

The loss of freedom (for the masses) is a simple bi product that stems from the loss of reason. Sophism is the tool that is used (since Socrates!) to anihilate our capacity for reasonning. Once a culture's ability for good reasonning fades. Money goes to the powers that be ... those who hire the best Sophists!!!

I have also read Atlas in the last year and it is absolutely creepy how our current predicament has so many parallels in the book written back in 1957.

Last week, in a short, very casual not on NPR they mentioned in passing that the EPA has declared that CO2 is harmful to human existence and can therefor be regulated by the EPA.
-- there was no new legislation passed.

The announcement sent a shiver down my spine. I felt like I had read it out of the pages of Atlas -- except now it was not fiction, we are living it!

The EPA can now enact CO2 regulation without being subject to any of the checks and balances that were set up in our original constitution.

The EPA has essentially taken regulatory control over oil (and all our other fossil fuels). The Fed has control of the money supply.
-- sounds like the government has got it all tied up.

Please do the global warming show first as a matter of urgency.

And when you do the Atlas show make sure to underscore the parallels between climate "science" and the state science institute as described in Atlas.

Marlize V
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As a young journalist, I haven't had many people to look to as outstanding career models. You're up there as someone outspoken, skeptical and rational -- traits hard to find in our industry to be sure.

Go with Rand first, with a quick follow-up on the climate crisis. As others on here have said, establish a broad philosophical foundation for yourself to work from first, then tackle the issues as they fly at you.

Good luck with the new show, I'll be watching!
Happy to hear the rumor that you will start your show with a story on Rand and Atlas Shrugged. Happy to hear you have moved to a venue in which you can report more frequently on issues directly tied to freedom and free markets. I don't watch much on FOX because it's not intelligent enough... too much false drama... but Stossel? I'll be watching or DVR'ing every single show. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you FOX for doing something brilliant like hiring John Stossel.
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