If you watch 20/20, you know who John Stossel is and
probably tune in to the program in large part because of him.
Stossel has been a reporter for 30 years, going after big
corporations, exposing rip-offs and chasing down con-artists in
order to hoist them on their own petards. His crusade has
continued, but his targets are a bit different now. Instead of big
business, he goes after big government, which, forming an unholy
trinity with lawyers and --- oh, the humanity! --- reporters,
hamstrings the free market that makes our lives better.
GIVE ME A BREAK is, in part, the story of how the scales fell from
Stossel's eyes. That account alone makes for fascinating reading.
After 30 years of investigative reporting, one would expect Stossel
to have a ton of interesting stories to tell. He does, and while he
doesn't relate all of them here, readers undoubtedly get their
money's worth. There's the one about the doctor who specialized in
diagnosing environmental illness (all of her patients, of course,
were so afflicted), the abortion doctors who would provide that
service whether the patient felt she needed it or not (Stossel's
urine was supplied for the pregnancy test) and the exploding BIC
pens...remember how panicked everyone was over that? Stossel
demonstrates that, statistically, your odds of a BIC pen exploding
were smaller than drowning in your bathtub (or in anyone else's),
being killed by a baseball or even being electrocuted by a
There is a fabulous chapter entitled "Junk Science and Junk
Reporting" that, with Stossel's passion for careful research and
penchant for irreverence, dissembles popularly held myths regarding
crack babies, Vitamin C and a bunch of other "scientific" myths
that we generally accept as gospel without thinking about
That's the entire point of Stossel's reporting: to think. This
agenda, not surprisingly, has made a number of people angry. What
is surprising, at least to Stossel, is that a number of his
colleagues in the liberal media are now shunning him. When he was a
bright, energetic young corporation slayer, Stossel was regarded as
a good guy, a hero by his colleagues. This has changed; socialists
don't believe in free markets. Stossel does, however, and GIVE ME A
BREAK, in addition to being a fascinating and entertaining read, is
also a ringing, vibrant defense of free markets and free people.
Stossel is not a conservative by any thoughtful definition, but he
is a capitalist and this book unabashedly enumerates the benefits
that flow from such a system, benefits that inure even to the least
fortunate of us and that are all too often simply accepted as a
natural consequence of right.
Whether you've been inviting Stossel into your living room every
week on 20/20 or have only a passing familiarity with his
work, you'll find reading GIVE ME A BREAK as entertaining as a
conversation with an informed, opinionated friend with whom you may
find yourself disagreeing, but who you'll never find boring. Highly
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011
Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...