Stossel Shows the Courage of his Convictions


We learned last week that ABC’s John Stossel was making the move to Fox News. There, he’ll do a one-hour nightly news show in which his self-avowed libertarian beliefs will play a part.

Stossel published a blog on today (Weds., Sept. 16), explaining why he’s making the move. Stossel’s pretty political, so I’m sure the spate of hostile comments he received didn’t surprise him. It doesn’t surprise me either, but I hate how people use the Internet as an excuse to personally attack others under anonymous names. If you read the comments listed under Stossel’s Townhall post, you’ll see plenty of comments – both positive and negative. Then you‘ll see people attacking each other, which is a common albeit unnecessary occurrence on so many Internet sites.

Stossel listed two of these comments high up in his Townhall blog:  ”Goodbye. You suck. You have found a much better home for your garbage reporting and backwards politics.”

“Congratulations on the move to the network intellectually suited to your quasi-libertarian corporate-apologist hackery!”

Stossel’s response: “Oh well, you can’t please everyone. I don’t expect that my libertarian beliefs will please everyone at Fox, either.”

That’s the right response. You absolutely cannot please everyone. You just have to stay true to yourself, do the best job you can and have faith in the expertise you’ve gained along the way. You can expect that in today’s incredibly polarized and largely nonintellectual world of politics, someone is going to get angry at you and then anonymously express those feelings over the Internet.

I’m all for having opinions and expressing them, but people need to show some courage when they choose to involve themselves in Internet conversations. It’s simple etiquette to speak to someone on the Internet just like they were sitting across from you. If you were actually having a conversation with someone you disagreed with, would you say things like “you suck,” and “you are intelectually (sic) dishonest and a hack. I’m glad I won’t stumble upon your sloppy one sided reporting ever again?”And if you were having a conversation, you would have the added bonus of not having to spell.

Perhaps you would say such things – that’s called freedom of speech — but at least the object of your disgruntlement would know where the bullets were coming from.

As for Stossel, I appreciate that he’s honest and open about his beliefs, and now he’s got a job where he can really explore those beliefs on a journalistic level.

He writes: “In my new job, I want to dig into the meaning of the words ‘liberty’ and ‘limited government.’ For many years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, we have been losing something vital in America: the commitment to individual liberty and the understanding that as government grows, liberty shrinks.

“Fox offers me more airtime and a new challenge. I’m still thinking about what I will do with my own show. Economic analyses of the latest screwball ideas in Washington — certainly. I also want to undertake exercises in understanding libertarianism, the philosophy of freedom, which used to be called ‘liberalism.’”

Everyone may not agree with Stossel’s point of view, and they may not agree with this career change, but at least he’s open about what he thinks, what he’s doing and why. Can these commenters say as much?