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But along the way, he noticed that there was something far more troublesome going on: While the networks screamed about the dangers of exploding BIC lighters and coffeepots, worse risks were ignored. And while...
But along the way, he noticed that there was something far more troublesome going on: While the networks screamed about the dangers of exploding BIC lighters and coffeepots, worse risks were ignored. And while reporters were teaming up with lawyers and legislators to stick it to big business, they seldom reported the ways the free market made life better.
In Give Me a Break, Stossel explains how ambitious bureaucrats, intellectually lazy reporters, and greedy lawyers make your life worse even as they claim to protect your interests. Taking on such sacred cows as the FDA, the War on Drugs, and scaremongering environmental activists -- and backing up his trademark irreverence with careful reasoning and research -- he shows how the problems that government tries and fails to fix can be solved better by the extraordinary power of the free market.
He traces his journey from cub reporter to 20/20 co-anchor, revealing his battles to get his ideas to the public, his struggle to overcome stuttering, and his eventual realization that, for years, much of his reporting missed the point. Stossel concludes the book with a provocative blueprint for change: a simple plan in the spirit of the Founding Fathers to ensure that America remains a place "where free minds -- and free markets -- make good things happen."
|1.||What Happened to Stossel?||1|
|5.||Scaring Ourselves to Death||73|
|6.||Junk Science and Junk Reporting||97|
|8.||Welfare for the Rich||135|
|9.||The Trouble with Lawyers||155|
|10.||The Left Takes Notice||179|
|11.||It's Not My Fault!||201|
|12.||But What About the Poor?||217|
|13.||Greed or Ambition?||239|
|14.||Owning Your Body||255|
Journalism without a moral position is impossible.
-- Marguerite Duras
I was once a heroic consumer reporter; now I'm a threat to journalism.
As a consumer reporter, I exposed con men and thieves, confronting them with hidden camera footage that unmasked their lies, put some out of business, and helped send the worst of them to jail. The Dallas Morning News called me the "bravest and best of television's consumer reporters." Marvin Kitman of Newsday said I was "the man who makes 'em squirm," whose "investigations of the unjust and wicked ... are models." Jonathan Mandell of the New York Daily News quoted a WCBS official who "proudly" said, "No one's offended more people than John Stossel."
Ah, "proudly." Those were the days. My colleagues liked it when I offended people. They called my reporting "hard-hitting," "a public service." I won 18 Emmys, and lots of other journalism awards. One year I got so many Emmys, another winner thanked me in his acceptance speech "for not having an entry in this category."
Then I did a terrible thing. Instead of just applying my skepticism to business, I applied it to government and "public interest" groups. This apparently violated a religious tenet of journalism. Suddenly I was no longer "objective."
Ralph Nader said I "used to be on the cutting edge," but had become "lazy and dishonest." According to Brill's Content, "Nader was a fan during Stossel's consumer advocate days," but "now talks about him as if he'd been afflicted with a mysterious disease."
These days, I rarely get awards from my peers. Some of my ABC colleagues look away when they see me in the halls. Web sites call my reporting "hurtful, biased, absurd." "What happened to Stossel?" they ask. CNN invited me to be a guest on a journalism show; when I arrived at the studio, I discovered they'd titled it "Objectivity and Journalism -- Does John Stossel Practice Either?" People now e-mail me, calling me "a corporate whore" and a "sellout."
How did I get from there to here? This book is the story of my professional and intellectual journey.
The Making of a Contrarian
I never planned to be a reporter. In college, when I tried to write a story for the school newspaper, the editors sneered and said, "Leave the writing to us." I was never much of a public speaker. I'm kind of shy, and I stutter. It all happened because I wanted to postpone graduate school.
I'd been accepted by the University of Chicago's School of Hospital Management, but I was sick of school. I was an indifferent student. I daydreamed through half my classes at Princeton, and applied to grad school only because I was ambitious, and grad school seemed like the right path for a 21-year-old who wanted to get ahead. Hospital management sounded like a useful and interesting career. But before I headed for the University of Chicago, I took a job. I thought the stress of a real job would make me appreciate school, and then I would embrace graduate studies with renewed vigor.
Every time a company sent a recruiter to Princeton, I volunteered for an interview. I got a dozen job offers and took the one that offered me a free flight that would take me the farthest: Seattle Magazine. They said they'd teach me how to sell advertising or do bookkeeping. But by the time I graduated, Seattle Magazine had gone out of business. I was lucky, though: Ancil Payne, the boss of the parent company, King Broadcasting, called me to say, "We have a job available at KGW, our Portland, Oregon, TV station. Want to try that?"
I said yes, although I had never thought about a career in TV news. I'd never even watched much of it. I had no journalism training.
In Portland I started as a newsroom gofer and worked my way up. I researched stories for others. Then, after studying how the anchormen spoke, I started writing stories for them. A few years later the news director told me to go on the air and read what I wrote. I reluctantly tried, but I was horrible at it -- nervous, awkward, scared. When I watched a tape of my performance, I was embarrassed.
But I persisted because I had to succeed. When I was growing up, my mother had repeatedly warned me that if I didn't study hard, get into a good college, and succeed in a profession, I would "freeze in the dark." I believed it.
I was also determined to keep pace with my brother Tom, who was the superstar of the family. While I partied and played poker, he studied hard, got top grades, and went to Harvard Medical School. Since I knew there was no way I could compete with Tom in his field, I tried to become a success in the profession I'd stumbled into.
In retrospect, I see that it probably helped me that I had taken no journalism courses. Television news was still inventing itself then, and I was open to new ideas. I learned through fear. My fear of failure made me desperate to do the job well, to try to figure out what people really needed to know and how I could say it in a way that would work well on TV. I stayed late at night to experiment with different ways of editing film. I watched NBC's David Brinkley and Jack Perkins and shamelessly copied them.
But I couldn't talk as well as they could. Since childhood, my stuttering had come and gone. Sometimes I was sure the problem had disappeared forever. Then it would return with such a vengeance, I'd fear saying anything at all. I'd sit silent in class, and miss out on dates because I was afraid to talk to girls ...Give Me a Break
Posted February 13, 2004
I'm curious what 'verifiable facts' Stossel is ignoring. Regardless of your view point, the book certainly raises some interesting issues. Should Donald Trump be able to evict a widowed lady so he can expand his casino? Should rich folks get their beach front properties subsidized by government? Why is it that even raising such questions could be so controversial? This is a must read, and it's easy, quick and entertaining to get through as well.
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Posted January 28, 2004
Unlike the other bestsellers, this one is based on truths and real experience. His conclusions may be not potlitically correct and eye opening at times. But the author never fails to tell you how he reached them. He doesn't use bumper slogans and spin to make you think the way he wants you to. I am getting tired of those books that try to persuade me with conjecture and half truths. A must read for all, Thanks John.
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Posted December 6, 2010
Posted November 17, 2010
I loved how Stossel presented problems and solutions in this book. He has lots of really good points and will challenge both the left and right leaning readers. If you have any kind of an open mind read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 13, 2010
I Also Recommend:
"Give Me a Break" is fantastic! Mr. Stossel is a quality reporter who exercises integrity, consistency, and common sense to respond to difficult social and economic issues. All of these qualities are reflected in this book. I appreciated the honest tone and supporting evidence to each section and the connection to Mr. Stossel's past ABC specials. By visiting YouTube, you can watch his specials as they relate to the content of the book, which provides a fantastic visual guide. I highly recommend this book to lovers of economic liberty and personal freedom!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2009
Very engaging and intellectually stimulating book with great research to back up why so many things taken as conventional wisdom are incorrect. Everyone should read this book once before interpreting information broadcast by the mainstream media as fact. It's also a telling personal tale of the inner working of journalism with personal anecdotes scattered among the intellectual and factual points.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 10, 2008
I Also Recommend:
As a long time viewer of Mr. Stossel"s, I wanted to read his book. I like his expose style. However he is does not fully inform readers, e.g. the hot coffee at McDonalds case. Looking into the case reveals that McDonald's refused to go to court forced mediation, have settled 700 times for the same hot coffee, reexamine their standards for their coffee (served at 195-205 degrees F.) or inspect the machine in question. I disagree that the economy and market take care of themselves at all times. And that government agencies are unnecessary. They are usually ineffective, but there was a time that labor was exploited (e.g. wages, child labor, long hours, harassment...). A time when "chicken soup" didn't have to be chicken. It could be rat, dog, cat or anything! There was no regulation or enforcement. I like his views on government staying out of peoples lives. Jabs at Ralph Nader are enlightening. Unique in his journalism, Stossel tackles the ridiculous yet legitimacy our country has to offer - the Americans with Disabilities Act, asbestos scares, the war on drugs, assisted suicide and many more. It seems Bill O' Reilly endorses this book. I never thought I would read such a book. Worth checking out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2006
Posted December 6, 2006
Stossel is a big liberertarian. Keep that in mind when you read this crap!!! He is a master spin doctor & master of sophistry a la Rush 'pig boy' Limbaugh. He takes an ounce of truth & warps it into a down right lie. There are too many lies to list but for example, he does not believe in road rage, despite studies showing it is in fact, on the rise. Like scumbag Tom DeLay & fellow neocons, wacko Stossel thinks 3rd world sweatshops are FINE! I would like to see him work in one: THAT WOULD BE GREAT! He also thinks gas is dirt cheap right now(Maybe for him! He's rich!) Bottom line: If you want the truth, take this bozo with a grain of salt & don't waste your time reading his dumb book! Just like that other wack job Bill O'Riley, Stossel acts like he's looking out for you when in REALITY he is only looking out for his GREEDY, ARROGANT SELF!!!!!! It is also apparant, he sides with the BIG CORPORATIONS & doesn't give a rat's rear about the little guy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 27, 2006
I found this book highly dissapointing...at first when I started hearing his various confrontations, I was intrigued, but as the book went on, nothing changed, and it got old quick. John Stossel just attempted to further his career by making himself look to dang good in this book. He left alot of things unanswered, and had some very biased opinions. I dont see how anyone but John Stossel could enjoy reading this bookWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 27, 2005
This book is about a reporter from ABC that exposes scam artists on television and explains how he does it and how he finds his information. When I first started reading this book I really got into it and didn't want to put it down. I thought it was interesting how many people get scammed every day, and what things they get scammed out of. About halfway through the book, however, I stopped liking it because he seemed to be complaining about the scam artists and other government actions that scam the people in the U.S. instead of telling about his stories of exposing them. I got sick of the whining and was barely able to finish the book. This book is recommended for people interested in learning about journalism and people who are interested about things not very known that happen in our country every day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 31, 2005
Everyone should read this book. I don't completely agree with Stossel on social issues, but I'm with him %100 when it comes to economics, and while some his arguments should be painfully obvious, I had never thought about many of the points he makes. He also writes with a simplicity and a sense of humor that really keep you interested. Once again, everyone should read this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 17, 2005
I had reservations about Stossel before I read this book. After reading this book, I found that his arguments make common sense. This book is for everybody regardless of whether you are conservative or liberal. His book is simple to read and very enjoyable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 17, 2004
Stossel is controversial for a reason. He says inflamatory things that don't neccessarily make sense. His book displays a very poor understanding of the actual operations and functions of the markets which he believes can solve every problem. His assertation that the FAA caused 9/11 is a prime example. Airline security was performed by markets prior to September 11th, which, if Stossel's blind faith in markets (which he has a very rudimentary and non-nuanced understanding of), would never have happened, because market efficiency would have led the market to impregnable airport security. If you want to really understand how markets work, where they are appropriate and what they will never work for, read something by Dr. Porter of Harvard.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 15, 2004
Posted June 1, 2004
This book really underscored how well intentioned policies can go wrong.He articulated just how deep and corrupt the field of law has become.He has taken a factual approach to emotional issues.Life expectancy has steadily gone up this past century.Certain people are still convinced in the face of this fact that we are worse off than before. As a businessman for over 20 years I could relate to the insane rules and regulations that have come about the last 6-7 years.I wish someone in govt will push for the adoption of 'loser pays' in litagation cases.Our court system would finally hear cases with merit, instead of all the frivoulous garbage it is burdened with at present.I agree with him, most lawyers are voracious parasites.60 years ago the insides of many warships were covered in asbestos to prevent ships from burning when hit with missles or torpedoes.How many lives to you think were saved from asbestos.He makes many great insights about our present societal trends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2004
Mr. Stossel stresses several good points throughout his book but it is hard to keep track of all of his points with back and forth writing. I was not pleased with this style but everything else was very good.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 7, 2004
The book starts kind of slow while Stossel lays the background of his career. As the book progresses you find yourself looking at the issues that affect our culture from both sides... as Stossel's own views have changed based upon the research and interviews that he delivers in every short, readable section. You will love how Stossel's confrontational journalism is presented to you... the most interesting and telling parts of each of his television specials. Best of all, his careful analyses of 'unintended consequences', which appear throughout the book will make you glad you bought the book. You will wonder what society would be like if everyone would at least consider the ideas that Stossel carefully presents. Btw... there are no sacred cows or protected institutions in this book... right and left are likely to both be offended... that is, if diverse and carefully thought out, alternate viewpoints are offensive to them. Hooray for Stossel. Thanks for writing this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2004
John Stossel is known for his aversion to the truth whenever it suits him. Over and over again he tries to pass off his rants as valid commentary on American society, yet shows a distinct aversion to basic, verifiable facts. He takes himself much too seriously, but does not extend this serious attitude to the outrages he 'exposes'. What he exposes is his own cavalier overreliance on sweeping generalizations and bogus statistics. For one who likes to play the part of the champion who can sniff out even the slightest fraud, he curiously commits enough of it himself...
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Posted January 27, 2004
This is a great book! It shows Stossel's libertarian mind. He is not one of those liberal socialists who want to expand the government, regulate all industries, and over protect everybody; he is not one of those right-wing minded conservatives who think they can tell you what to do with your life, imposing all their misunderstood moral values. Stossel just defends free-market as a true libertarian (although Stossel does not call himself libertarian), tired of all regulations that are killing the free spirit of this country. Five stars for a great book. Five stars for a great writer with a great sense of humor.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.