Re: John Stossel’s July 23, 2004 20/20 report entitled “Give Me a Break”
I am writing this message in response to John Stossel’s 20/20 segment entitled “Give Me A Break” which was aired on July 23, 2004.
In that segment, Stossel attacked the profession of trial lawyer by comparing the work of Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards with the work of trial attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs.
The work of Scruggs and Edwards may be the same, but the approach to that work may differ significantly enough that the comparison between the two men is a stretch.
John Edwards used money he earned as a trial lawyer to buy property. Are we not allowed to use our earnings as we wish in The United States of America? How much does Mr. Stossel earn and what has he purchased with some or any of his income? That, first and foremost, should be addressed on a 20/20 rebutting Stossels’ piece on John Edwards. Let the viewers determine if Stossel earns too much by creating, by implication, a negative view of the subjects of his reports and if he spends that income on what they consider to be frivolous or unnecessary items. Imply, in the rebuttal, that, whatever it is that Stossel purchases with his income, he could be doing more philanthropic work with his income.
Then segue to the fact that present Vice President Dick Cheney was the CEO of a large global corporation, Halliburton. Mention that the ratio of what CEOs earn to the salaries of those earning the money for CEOs is over 600 to 1.
Inform your viewers that it would be more philanthropic for CEOs to earn less, share the wealth with their workers more fairly and that Cheney was part of this inequity.
Also inform your viewers what Cheney did with his earnings as CEO of Halliburton and let them decide if that spending was frivolous or necessary.
Then, you will have reported both sides of the same story. Only then would a viewer be able to decide for himself or herself whether Edwards really acted in an inappropriate manner as a trial lawyer as compared to how Cheney acted as the CEO of a global corporation.
If you don’t make these facts about Stossel and Cheney available to viewers via the same venue, 20/20, then you are not reporting the news as much as you are making the news in order to politically skew the thinking of the viewers.