More Than 1,200 Sign Petition Supporting Stossel

More Than 1,200 Sign Petition Supporting Stossel

Petition Undermines Activist Crusade to Silence ABC Reporter John Stossel
August 22, 2000

Washington, DC, August 22, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) has sparked a wave of support for ABC reporter John Stossel with its web page, http://www.savejohnstossel.org/.  CEI designed the site to help the reporter’s fans respond to attacks from environmental activists and special interests that were outraged by Stossel’s program, “How Good is Organic Food?”

“We have received a tremendously positive response,” says CEI’s Kendra Okonski, webmaster for the site.  “In little more than one week, we have well over 1,200 signers on our petition, and support continues to climb.”

Environmental activists began their campaign back in February after ABC’s 20/20 aired the segment.  They didn’t appreciate Stossel’s questioning of whether organic food lives up to claims that it is “safer” and “more nutritious” than conventional food.  While the substance of Stossel’s program was correct, activists are exploiting an honest mistake to undermine the entire report and Stossel himself.

Stossel and ABC staff believed that one test within a group of tests they commissioned measured pesticide residues on organic and conventional produce, and that the test did not detect residues on either.  Stossel’s televised apology noted that they misunderstood; the lab had not conducted this test.  However, independent studies often find what Stossel thought ABC found: Pesticide residues are not detectable on a majority of produce.

Last week, CEI worked with other policy groups and experts to respond to the anti-Stossel campaign.  http://www.savejohnstossel.org/  features a petition, as well as a direct links to ABC, where fans can voice their support for Stossel. The site also includes a timeline and information on the controversy, background on the issues of organic food and pesticides, and daily news items and updates.

Mistakes happen, and reporters should render corrections when they do.  John Stossel rightly offered an apology for himself and ABC.  Despite the fact that this was obviously an honest error, activists persist in their attack of Stossel.  Stossel’s opponents are not simply interested in correcting an error or getting to the truth.  They want to silence John Stossel because he says things they don't want the public to hear.  The Organic Trade Association and the Environmental Working Group have a right to disagree with Stossel, but Stossel has a right to free speech–a right to publicly state his conclusions about any topic.

CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information, please contact Richard Morrison at rmorrison@cei.org or 202-331-1010, ext. 266.