John Stossel on Colbert tonight, 20/20 special tomorrow

Andrew Bissell's picture
Submitted by Andrew Bissell on Fri, 2006-01-13 05:12

John Stossel, a noted libertarian in the U.S. media, has just produced a special called Stupid in America that will be airing tomorrow. It's an examination of the ways the American public school monopoly is failing our students. I highly recommend it to SOLOists, along with his appearance on tonight's Colbert Report, which you can view via a link at this site:

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For the life of me I can't

Robert Malcom's picture

For the life of me I can't understand this bloody obsession with school sports. Save money by teaching them to read, write and do math.

 The one is tribal in nature, while the real schooling is individualistic in nature - that's why.......

I think you'll find that the

Robert's picture

I think you'll find that the indoctrination starts at Teacher's College.

I can't blame public school teachers for feeling they need more muscle when dealing with their employers - they are employed by the government after all.

Then you have to look at the system. A system that says that everybody has a right to an education. Everybody? What about the disruptive little prats in Stossel's report? Just as a customer has a right to choose their school, the school has the right to refuse to serve the customer.

In other words the teachers shouldn't have to teach with a whip and chair. Those kids who were disrupting that class should have been sent home with a refund of their parents money and a note telling them not to come Monday.

Then the teachers shouldn't be teaching kids things that parents can teach or that kids can learn on their own. For the life of me I can't understand this bloody obsession with school sports. Save money by teaching them to read, write and do math. If they want to learn to play baseball - do it outside school hours.

As always the problem is the government, which means the problem is the voters who persist in voting for the same people over and over. And sadly, many of the women (several of them teachers) I've met here in Kansas voted for Bill Clinton because they thought he was handsome... Barf! And with voters like this, you'd need not wonder why politicians are able to get away with blue murder.

"competition is not for human beings"

Christine's picture

Hmm... I was both darkly amused and enraged by Stossel's interveiwees. "Competion is not for children... it's not for human beings..." It's been a while since I read, but I wouldn't be suprised if that's something James Taggart says verbatim.

And I wouldn't be suprised to find out those veiwpoints are not just held by the craziest morons Stossel could manage to find. There not completly uniform, but teachers' unionized way of life tends to lead to a lot of collective thinking. Usually you know a teacher's position before he opens his mouth.

Stossel as Hero

atlascott's picture

Yes, Stossel is definitely a heroic libertarian out there sticking it to the government.  He is great.

The interviewer is a comedian, and his interview style is a mokery of the 'hard-hittin' Bill O'Reilly confrontation.  I find it to be amusing parody.  I agree that it is disturbing in this context, because the mildly amusing humor's value, to me, is greatly outweighed by the value of just allowing Stossel to relate his conclusions.  But his show is not the venue for any serious discussion.  Stossel knows it, and the viewers know it.  Comedy Central is not the place for serious interviews.  I still did not like to see Stossel or his ideas treated that way.

Some of you may not know this, but Stossel is a terrible stutterer, and does not prefer off the cuff talk.  He needs to sort of choose his words that do not have hard consonent sounds so he doesnt get into the pattern.  I think he was pretty brave for even going on the show.

Teachers unions are pretty terrible, but they have so much political weight, we have a tough battle ahead of us on schools.  Stossel is a hell of a good step in the right direction.  Those who missed it can catch some of the video at for free (just like 3 3 minute video clips, but better than nothing.).

My main thought

sjw's picture

My main thought on this is that Stossel is a hero.

I don't know whether he took the worst footage of the unionists or not, but it certainly accurately characterizes their essence. Those are some of the most evil people in the country.

Thanks for letting us know about this

Jason Quintana's picture

I enjoyed the program. I wish I would have recorded it. The "bad teachers" in the piece were like the villians of Atlas Shrugged. They were portrayed as depraved, pathetic mediocrities working to preserve a sort of socialist la la land. While I'm sure Stossel put in the worst footage he could find portraying the bad guys I don't think the portrayal was far off the mark. The haze of mediocrity that most young Americans live through for 13 years turns a good number of them into intellectually limited social tribalists. All one has to do is have a conversation with a group of average American 18 year olds to see this. ("Like... thats so cool.. Like I'm so mad at her... Like...Like..")

I think that adult life in America provides the antidote. I think that people here actually develop as human beings once they enter the work force and learn what it takes to get along in the real world. While most Americans never develop into intellectuals the free market forces them to mature quickly and develop economically marketable skills. People in Europe might be better educated then the average American but their governments do everything in their power to ensure that they can't compete with the Americans economically when they are adults.

- Jason

Thoughts on the program

Andrew Bissell's picture

I saw the whole thing. There were a couple of interviewees who I really felt like smacking with the back of my hand. The first was the New York union organizer who said, "People who call this a unionized monopoly, they really don't care about kids." Grrrrrrr! Then there was the teacher who sued to shut down Florida's voucher program, and said competition "is not for kids, it's not the right way to do things, never has been, never will be." Idiot!

I know he probably was depicting some of the worst of the worst, but Stossel's show made me think a lot of teachers really deserve the low salaries they bitch about so much.

You can see him here

Adam's picture

You can see him here

Colbert's character is a

Christine's picture

Colbert's character is a response to his audence. He's filming in Manhattan with an audience full of people that couldn't get into the Daily Show. John Stuart is actually one of the main producers. Of course it's liberally biast. His show is consistently a sardonic, mock-conservative news report. But it's really a moot point. He's an entertainer without any political, philosophical, or journalistic prowess.

Stossel on the other hand is exellent. He wrote a book a few years ago which rather effectively illistrates the superiority of the free market and the government's suffocating effect on innovation. He's an exellent mouthpeice for libertarianism (though he refuses to call himself one.)

Just watched it

Pete L's picture

Although I missed the first 20 minutes or so, I had a chance to watch Stupid in America. Overall, I enjoyed it. I think this piece will make people think twice about the government's education monopoly. I was surprised to see that in Belgium there is more school choice and competition than in America (and apparently better schools) -- that in itself will not be lost on people with a Leftist bent, I assure you.

Implied was that the government should still finance education, and that of course still presents a lot of problems. Nevertheless, gradual progress is better than no progress, and clearly a more free market approach to education funded by vouchers is preferable to a one-size-fits-all monopolized institution.

Try threaded view

sjw's picture

Pete: Go to the bottom of the page and turn on threads, you'll see that I was responding to Bill not you. But I could have typed his name to make that more clear, I'll try to make a point of using the person's name when I'm responding to them in the future.

I agree

Adam's picture

Colberts a neo-leftist freak. He doesnt like people clouding the truth with facts.

Shayne,Not sure if you're

Pete L's picture


Not sure if you're addressing me or Bill Grazier, but if the former, it should be pretty clear from my post that I also got the sense that Colbert was mocking the concept of limited government and privatization.

I don't buy it

sjw's picture

So you claim he was mocking O'Reilly and not Stossel's ideas? I don't buy it. And even if that was what he was trying to do, that's not what he was actually doing.

I agree that Colbert seemed

Pete L's picture

I agree that Colbert seemed to be satirically portraying blowhards like O'Reilly and Hannity, especially in the way that he kept interrupting and distracting from the real issues to be discussed. However, I got the sense that Colbert was injecting some of his own editorial commentary in the mix, and the audience reaction seemed to show that the show has Leftist roots. I would like to watch him interview someone like Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky to see if he is an equal opportunity asshole (mainly, if his questions attack the fundamental premises of Leftist ideology). In that case, I will give him a pass on his annoying performance with Stossell.

I agree Bill. Shayne, he's

Titan's picture

I agree Bill. Shayne, he's comedian, like Jason Roth, for Christ's sake.

The whole idea behind the

Bill Grazier's picture

The whole idea behind the Colbert Report is that it's supposed to be a parody of the know-it-all media blowhard (basically, Bill O'Reilly), so it's not going to be the same as the serious interviews that you'd see from Jon Stewart. I don't condemn Colbert for a character that he creates for satirical purposes, and don't expect hard-hitting journalism from Comedy Central...if I want that, I can turn on CNN or Fox News.

Stupid Teachers and Schools Too

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Government schools everywhere in the world are essentially commie schools.  They heavily tend to inculcate stupidity, depravity, servility, and welfare statism.   They also rather brainwash, and kill most of our natural love of learning -- especially in young kids.  Commie schools also spiritually corrupt and personally violate.

The good news is home schooling is exploding in America.  Even clueless, half-assed parents teaching lazy, distracted kids at home seem to be wildly superior to the Government Indoctrination Center schools.  As the song goes:  "Hey -- teachers! Leave those kids alone!"  ;-)  


sjw's picture

I've never seen Colbert before actually.

My guess is I wouldn't like him no matter who he was trying to "interview" (if that's what he calls it). He reminds me of one of Linz's phrases about people who think they're clever but are far from it. Sneering, sarcastic, puny little mentality is the phrase I'd use.

I don't mind a hard interview but that's not what he was trying to do. He was just trying to get laughs by poking fun at fictional contradictions. His method was just disgusting. I can imagine he's the hero of every pragmatist, amoralist nitwit who lost an argument to a man of principle.

I didn't think Stossel did so well, I didn't think he had much chance against that kind of tactic. This is actually a good example of where ARI would have done the right thing and not shown up at all, but I suppose Stossel thought it'd be good for publicity? He had to know what to expect before he came I imagine.

Shayne, it sounds like you

Andrew Bissell's picture

Shayne, it sounds like you don't watch Colbert very much, but he does pretty much that same sarcastic, catch-them-off-guard-with-outrageous-crap interview with all of his guests. I'm willing to put up with it in the case of Stossel because on any other night you can tune in and watch him do it to conservatives and progressives, which I find hilarious. Plus, I'd actually say Stossel handled the whole thing very well, taking the usual simplistic objections to libertarianism and picking apart the assumptions behind them. If Colbert had just tossed him a bunch of softballs he wouldn't have seemed half as impressive.

What an idiot

sjw's picture

Looking forward to seeing Stossel's show tomorrow without him being repeatedly interrupted by the perfect example of the kind of mentality that results from today's school system...

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