ABC Reporter Apologizes For Organic Foods Report
August 12, 2000
NEW YORK (AP) - Reporter John Stossel apologized Friday night on ABC's
''20/20'' for using inaccurate information in two earlier reports on the
safety of organic food.
``All we have in this business is our credibility - your trust that we get
it right,'' Stossel said. ``I'll make every effort to see it never happens
Stossel prefaced the apology by defending other aspects of the reports and
said the mistakes were inadvertent.
The apology was ordered by ABC News, which also reprimanded Stossel and
suspended a producer. Critics wanted Stossel fired.
In the reports, aired in February and again July 7, Stossel said organic
food was no safer than regular food and warned it could even be dangerous.
Stossel reported that an examination of produce conducted for ABC News found
that there was no pesticide residue on either conventional samples or
After critics complained, ABC investigated the report and found that no such
test had been done. Earlier, ABC had said Stossel relied on inaccurate
information provided by a staff member. Producer David Fitzpatrick
apparently believed that a test done on chicken also was performed on
Some critics weren't satisfied with Stossel's apology Friday.
``John Stossel apologized tonight with another lie, which raises serious
questions about ABC's willingness to correct its own mistakes,'' said Mike
Casey, a spokesman the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.
Casey said the reporter had maintained that accurate tests had been
performed for bacteria, but Casey said the environmental group had posted
documents from the USDA on its Web site that contradicted Stossel's
On Friday, the Internet opinion journal TomPaine.com took out an
advertisement on the editorial page of The New York Times promoting the
group's complaints and stating: ``ABC News has a credibility problem. His
name is John Stossel.''
Stossel was hired by ABC in 1981 and has won acclaim for taking on tough
stories, often giving a contrarian view to topics such as government
regulation and defendants who claim to be victims. He has received 19 Emmy
Awards and been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by
the National Press Club.
ABC has not addressed why the errors were repeated in July, after
environmental groups had complained of inaccuracies.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.