John Stossel on John Edwards

A friend tipped me to this, which I believe is a transcript of John Stossel’s 20/20 report on John Edwards, trial lawyers, and politics from this last week (I haven’t watched 20/20 or any other network news show in at least a dozen years). It’s good stuff, and the kind of things Edwards and his big-money contingency lawyer backers definitely don’t want heard on the national news.

A footnote: apparently, Babwa Wawa and the powers-that-be at ABC News were so offended by hearing discouraging words about Edwards on their program that Walters issued a rarely-heard ‘this does not represent the opinions of me or ABC News’ disclaimer immediately after Stossel’s report.

No doubt she was telling the complete truth there. Why Stossel still puts up with such nonsense is beyond me, but good on him for being a maverick voice of reason among the media herd.


41 Responses to “John Stossel on John Edwards”

  1. ic Says:

    BabaWawa and ABC were not offended, they were afraid of being sued by Edwards for Stossel’s story.

  2. Silent Running Says:

    Stossel on Edwards

    Will Collier points this one out. Well, I brought this up before, and although my positions and observations certainly aren’t the official American Broadcasting Corporation take on it, according to Barbara Walters – neither are John Stossel’s, even tho…

  3. Dean Says:

    Stossel’s reports over the years, iirc, have been the subject of a fair bit of heart-burn for the more liberal members of ABC. Past reports have also generated outcries that his presence “proved” the right-wing had taken over ABC.

  4. Mike M Says:

    A pretty harsh look at trial lawyers, but I looked hard to find purposefully inflammatory statements in there and didn’t find any. About the closest is when Stossel asks: “So are women today experiencing unnecessary surgery partly because lawyers like Edwards scared doctors?” That’s not a throwaway question when the answer is yes.

    Edwards is vulnerable on this, and Bush need only remind voters about what the last Democrat President tried to do with health care to have the issue fairly locked up.

    Solid reporting, and more than a little humerous that ABC felt it needed to distance itself from a piece that contained almost no opinion or spin whatsoever.

  5. AWW Says:

    I saw this as well and Babwa’s statement caused me to sit up and say “what the…”. Even the wife, no GOPer her, noticed this.

  6. ic Says:

    In regard to your post on July 22, you may like to read this:


  7. bolivar Says:

    I missed the report but John Stossel is always excellent. The reporting he does – not LLL hack pieces are usually very well put together and accurate as hell. He usually shows no animus just tells it like it is. The respondents to the blog at ABC were funny to read. That one guy obviously was a LLL synchophant and sucks at the Dimmie teat.


  8. RandMan Says:

    I try to catch Stossel’s specials. They are uniformly excellent.

  9. Jim Russell Says:

    There are definitely sins on both sides of the Supplier-Negligence/Consumer-Lawsuit balance. If all Suppliers/Businesses were ethical (cigarette mfg’s hiding damaging health info from consumers is the “Classic” example), then financially damaging lawsuits would not be needed to make them think twice the next time.

    The bigger story, and bigger money/moral issue I believe, is how much money John Edwards made settling out of court(most Tort cases are). Here the Mfg’r admits no fault and pays John and his defendant to close the records and keep their mouths shut about any potential harm to others. This is truly the “prostitution” part of it and why lawyers are rated about on the same level in public opinion polls.

    The whole Tort system is in dire need of reform to cap lawyers share of awards meant to help the victim(s), especially in Class Action suits, and to stop the hiding of damaging product information from the public in closed settlements. So much for the ethic’s of the accusers.

    Unfortunately, most of Congress and the Courts are made up of lawyers themselves, many making their fortunes from Tort laws just the way they are. Great idea, wrong lawmakers.

  10. Kamakazi Says:

    I saw this great segment and burst out laughing when BaaBaa disclaimed anything to do with it. Stossell responded with a kind of “Well duh, you hopeless partisan” look. Great segment with a comedic ending.

  11. sauer38h Says:

    I’d like to see notices on products informing the consumer of just how much of the purchase price goes to the manufacturer’s (and vendor’s, and provider’s) insurance premiums. What percentage of your new car’s price is liability insurance for the manufacturer and the dealer? It’s more than you think. Shouldn’t the consumer be informed about these costs? In the case of some fields of medicine, 90% of the cost of the procedure goes immediately to the insurers. In a sense, this is all just a way to transfer money from the patient – or, rather, all patients – to Edwards. And don’t blame the insurers for it – they’re the ones who will keep your doctor in business when he’s victimized by our tort system.

  12. ColoradoConservative Says:

    If the President wins re-election, mark my words, we will see a sea change in the “traditional” liberal media. The old way of doing things will be broken and the old liberal war horses of Walters, Helen Thomas, Tom Brokaw, et. al. will exit stage left.

  13. Brian Carnell Says:

    Stossel is an idiot who rarely does his homework. For example, Stossel claims,

    “However, today many C-sections are still done in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit, even though C-sections are a more painful way to give birth, as well as more expensive, requiring a longer hospital stay, and carrying greater health risks.”

    Uh, no. In fact the number of C-sections is rising in part because they are cheaper and safer than traditional vaginal delivery. A growing number of studies finds fewer complications from C-sections and the number of women electively choosing C-sections to time their births and avoid the pain of vaginal births is growing (see my summary on this).

    I agree with Stossel’s message, but he is a very poor messenger.

  14. Galen Says:

    The reasons for the rise in c-sections are multifactorial, but I think now if there is a whiff of a complication, a c-section is more likely to be performed now than in the past.

    With that being said, looking at the rising c-section rates and the unchanged incidence of cerebral palsy, along with the millions paid out on CP malpractice it is obvious the system is failing us in a big way. Which we are all paying for.

  15. Chrees Says:

    Brian, please look at one statistic again. 76%.

    “76% of all obstetricians have been sued.” Just because cost and scheduling factors favor c-sections doesn’t mean doctors aren’t guiding patients toward an action that covers the doctor’s rear.

    My wife, a medical practioner, readily admits that her decisions are affected by possible lawsuits, including factors that are completely beyond her control.

  16. Doc Rampage Says:

    Stossel ought to start ending each show with a similar disclaimer for someone else’s segment.

  17. Sloegin Says:

    Doc, Stossel would never be allowed to disclaim views that clearly ARE those of ABC News.

  18. Shannon Love Says:

    The big scandal here is that Edwards et al made their fortunes by advancing a bogus scientific theory. In effect, he lied his way to his fortune.

    The tort system is broken because you can successfully sue people using junk science. Successful suits based on bad science don’t help anybody. Since the theory is bad, changes to procedure based on the theory won’t have positive results for the consumer. Targets of possible suits cannot defend themselves because they never know what they might be held liable for.

    Cerebral Palsy is a perfect example of this. Despite hundreds of millions in awards and settlements and a nearly five fold increase in the number of cesearian sections, the rate of cerebral palsy remains the same. The lawsuits have done nothing positive at all. How could they? The theory they are based on has been empirically shown to be incorrect.

    Courts need to start disallowing novel theories and only allow theories based on firm, widely accepted science. That would fix most of the tort problems in one fell swoop.

  19. Brian Carnell Says:

    “Brian, please look at one statistic again. 76%.”

    As I said, I agree with Stossel’s message and the 76 percent figure is ridiculous.

    But then Stossel goes and does *exactly* what he’s ripping on Edwards for doing — making up some BS claim about C-sections that is simply not supported by the evidence.

    So we’ve gone from the liberal trial lawyer version that cerebral palsy was caused by doctors not doing c-sections quickly enough to the conservative journalist version that c-sections are more dangerous than vaginal births. I don’t see that as much of an improvement.

  20. brennan stout Says:

    I do enjoy how Eric Alterman is always telling everyone that the media does have conservative journalists. Stossel is usually the first name he recites. However, Stossel’s reaction is better.

    “Are you a Conservative?” – Heartland Foundation Breakfast Host

    “No.” – John Stossel

  21. DBL Says:

    I don’t have the exact numbers, but if I recall correctly, approximately 1/2 of all neurosurgeons and some comparable number of obstetricians are sued for malpratice every year. If 1/2 of the neurosurgeons in America are incompetent then we have bigger problems than we thought. But of course, that’s not the case. Only a very small percentage of neurosurgeons or obstetricians are incompetent. So why are so many sued if they are not incompetent?

    It’s hard to blame trial lawyers like Edwards for taking advantage of a corrupt system. They didn’t create the system (although they are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on politicians who will protect the gravy train for them). The only cure for this is to adopt a loser pays rule or my variation of that, the loser’s lawyer pays rule. That would eliminate the suits against the doctors whose only sin was to have a bad outcome.

  22. McGehee Says:

    They didn’t create the system

    I’m not so sure about that. The system is the result of legislation and judicial rulings, both of which occur with significant input from trial lawyers.

  23. PointOfLaw Forum Says:

    John Stossel on med-mal

    ABC “20/20” is promising a segment tonight. Yes, I helped in a small way, and no, I won’t be onscreen (barring use of stock footage). More: here’s the direct link. Yet more: Will Collier at VodkaPundit, ABC News forums (via…

  24. ech Says:

    HeBrian: The number of C-sections isn’t rising because they are cheaper and safer. The study you cite: came out in March of this year (so, no time for the news to spread), hasn’t been published – it was a “poster session”, hans’t had peer review. The costs for various types of delivery are laughably low. My wife did OB anesthesia for over 10 years and her bill for a c-section would have been over 25% of the costs listed. When my daughter was born 16 years ago, the cash price for the hospital for a delivery was over $3k. I’d be amazed if her figures held up to close scrutiny.

    Also, the assertion that a c-section has less pain than a vaginal delivery is not true if the patient gets an epidural.

  25. Duane Says:

    I saw the episode and, as with many of his segments, agreed with Stossel.

    I’m not sure, however, if Barbara wasn’t just making a joke after a segment about trial lawyers suing people for billions of dollars.

  26. deborah wood Says:

    John Stossel’s argument about the reason for the soaring C-section rates doesn’t tell the whole story. Mr Stossel neglected to point out the opinion of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that gives doctors the “ethically justified” (?) green light to perform elective cesareans without a medical reason. As you can imagine this has caused women’s health organizations great alarm. The ACOG opinion is arrogantly startling in that it gives doctors permission to perform surgery that is not medically justified on uninformed women with normal pregnancies.

    Mr Stossel alleges that doctors are performing increasing numbers of c-sections to avoid litigation for cerebral palsy. The other part of the story that was conveniently omitted was that compared to vaginal birth, a woman has an increased risk of hemorrhage, infection, abdominal and urinary tract damage and may suffer complications from the narcotics used for pain and anesthesia, blood clots in legs, pulmonary embolism, ileus (paralyzed bowel). Nowadays many infections are drug-resistant and the patient may have to have a blood transfusion(s). The patient may not be able to have a vaginal birth after c-section, “once a c-section, always a c-section” and with each subsequent c-section the risks for the patient increases. Internal scarring from c-sections may also cause problems with future pregnancy(s) placenta previa, acreta, abruptio. The claim by John Stossel that the doctor is doing c-sections to avoid litigation doesn’t make sense with all the risks involved with major abdominal surgery. Studies have shown a correlation between readmissions to hospitals and chronic pain in the pelvis after c-sections. I suggest to you that the increased rates of c-sections are multiple…convenience for the patient and practioner to schedule the birth (risk of premature delivery of a baby not quite ready to be born), beliefs that vaginal birth harms (stretches) the pelvic floor and may decrease sexual pleasure and lead to urinary incontinence and oh yes….a c-section costs more, more profit. Patients deserve to be educated about childbirth and what options are available to them and their infants. One only has to compare the risks involved with c-sections and wonder how John Stossel and his doctor expert came to the conclusions regarding soaring c-section rates and fear of litigation? Research shows that the risk of death in women who have c-sections is five to seven times higher that those who have vaginal births.

    In regards to off-label use of drugs and risks of litigation: If doctors are so concerned about litigation then tell me why Cytotec is still being used for labor induction? In November 1999 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) came out with a warning that stated: “There have been reports of uterine rupture following misoprostol (Cytotec) use for cervical ripening in patients with prior uterine surgery. Thus, until reassuring studies are available, misoprostol (Cytotec) is not recommended for cervical ripening in patients who have had prior cesarean delivery or major uterine surgery”.

    The only FDA approved use of Cytotec is treating ulcers. In August 2000, Searle, Cytotec’s manufacturer, sent physicians a letter reminding them that Cytotec was not approved for use as a cervical ripening agent and that it was contraindicated for use in pregnancy. The letter listed serious adverse effects associated with using Cytotec, including maternal or fetal death, uterine rupture, and severe vaginal bleeding and shock. Why has the reminder warning letter sent in August 2000 from Searle Pharmaceuticals been ignored by doctors?? Searle plainly stated that Cytotec was not approved for use for cervical ripening and that it was contraindicated for use in pregnancy. Doctors worried about litigation? Cytotec is used because of its cost….it’s cheap and not nearly as safe as other approved drugs such as Cervidel.

    Suggestion for Mr Stossel. How about investigating the off-label use of drugs who have required either Black Box Warnings or warning letters from the FDA???

    HMMMMMMMMM!? Well…….!!!!

  27. David Says:

    Funny thing, though debby, is that the lawsuits aren’t for the women or complications affecting their health–the lawsuits are for ANY problem with the newborn.

    The fact of the matter is that C-section delivery is a “vaccine” against getting sued for a kid who has CP or any other birth defect, never mind if it was caused by vaginal delivery. All the lawyer has to do is hold up a sick kid to the jury, they all go “awww” and stick to the “faceless” insurance company.

    As with silicon breast implants being harmful, there’s absolutely NO scientific evidence that C-section is beneficial for babies (except for the 5% or so of difficult births).

  28. RJGatorEsq. Says:

    Every so often, tort “reform” is trotted out like some tired old horse. It gets reliable applause from some sectors, makes a halfhearted lap for show, and is led back to the barn, not to be seen or heard from until the next election cycle.

    Two points to consider:

    First, almost all proposed “reforms” are aimed at limiting your rights (e.g., capping damages for pain and suffering, restricting the ability of citizens to aggregate their claims and proceed cheaply as a class, etc.)

    As an American, I’m not too enthusiastic about politicians that promise me, in effect, “I’m going to help you by limiting your rights.” It’s like Dennis Miller said about the Dems: “They are offering me less security and higher taxes, and I’m not interested in that.” Ditto.

    Second, when a legislator wants to determine the benefit of a proposal (i.e., “How much will limiting plaintiffs’ recoveries save consumers/doctors/insurers/etc.?”), the legislator usually calls on the Congressional Budget Office to come up with the numbers. That’s fair: if we are being asked to leap, why shouldn’t we get a look, before we leap? Interestingly enough, the CBO hasn’t been called on to evaluate the savings of so-called tort “reform” proposals.

    Do the legislators who trot out the old tort “reform” nag every election cycle know that the numbers just aren’t going to support them?

    If the numbers will support them, why don’t they calculate and publish the numbers?

  29. McGehee Says:

    Sorry, Gator, but the big winner in class-action lawsuits is always the legal team. Plaintiffs get pocket change and the lawyers get filthy rich. Going class-action may be cheaper, but it doesn’t make good financial sense for those who have the complaint.

  30. imaras Says:

    What is the most damning outcome of all this ‘junkscience lawsuit’ by amubalance chasers such as edwards etc, is that Gynecolygists are getting out of the business of treating woman, delivering babies or such. Last night – there was a segment on fox-news, in which several physicians said, they may go out of that profession all together, their rish mgmt insurance have risen to $250,000 per year – unaffordable for them.

  31. Blixa Says:

    Brian Carnell’s “growing number of studies” seems to be one, or at most two.

    It’s not at all clear that he’s interpreted the studies’ results correctly (did either study really prove that C-sections qua C-sections are “safer” than vaginal delivery? are C-sections “rising” in the first place, or just elective C-sections? There’s a difference).

    Even if he has, they don’t really seem to actually rebut the quoted claims of Stossel as he thinks they do. (Even if women are “in part” choosing elective C-sections for the reasons Brian cites, this doesn’t mean fear of litigation plays no role in doctors who recommend C-sections, which was all that Stossel has claimed).

    This all puts Brian in a strange position, having called Stossel an “idiot” for not having “done his homework”.

    But hey, I’ll be sure to tell my wife that she should cross her fingers and hope and pray for that heaven-sent C-section, based on Brian’s four-paragraph “summary” of a “growing number of studies”. I’m sure she, her ob/gyn, the nurses, and everyone at the hospital will be impressed and change their minds accordingly.

    It’s just surgery after all!

    Bah. I feel dumber for having read that comment.

  32. Stossel is Rove's Bitch Says:

    “If John Stossel had some facts to present about Edwards, why did he not present them?”

    Stossel did not present any facts about Edwards career as a lawyer because, his piece was not intended to be news story on John Edwards or lawyers. It was intended to be what it was, a completely slanted piece of tabloid journalism.

    A transparent attempt by the right wing corporate media to plant the notion in viewers minds that we hard working Americans have paid for John Edwards homes, his salary and so forth while never connecting Mr. Edwards to any of the unsavory practices mentioned in the piece.

    Ironicaly, Stossel’s shoddy reporting actualy made the case for the need for trial lawyers. To protect us from his style of journalistic malpractice.

  33. Greg Bair Says:

    As for me, I’d rather have a trial lawyer that got some poor sap who was injured by a careless doctor in office than some guy who lies about not having a financial stake in his former company, and only got rich by screwing the government out of money.

  34. RJGatorEsq. Says:

    “Sorry, Gator, but the big winner in class-action lawsuits is always the legal team. Plaintiffs get pocket change and the lawyers get filthy rich. Going class-action may be cheaper, but it doesn’t make good financial sense for those who have the complaint.”

    First, with respect to your assertion that “the big winner in class-action lawsuits is always the legal team,” I don’t mean to upset you, and I don’t mean to shock you, but–plaintiffs don’t always win. I’m sorry to tell you that, but you can look it up. You apparently assume that filing a lawsuit is like paying $200, and getting a guaranteed $2,000,000 in return. I’m sorry again, but that is not the case. You can look that up, too.

    Second, if claims are large, most businesses would prefer to handle them as a class action. Why? They can resolve virtually all the cases against them in one fell swoop…rather than in 50,000 separate lawsuits all across America. Would you rather handle one big case against you, or 50,000 little ones? That’s a no-brainer.

    Third, class action suits generally allow people to bring claims where a wrong has been done, but it sinmply is not economical to sue the wrongdoer individually. Hence, your “pocket change” comment. People often get “pocket change” in settlement, BECAUSE THAT WAS HOW MUCH THEY LOST.

    As an example, I was a one of about a hundred thousand class action plaintiffs (not the attorney) in a suit against Celebrity Cruise Lines. Celebrity overcharged its passengers for port fees. The total amount they overcharged me and my family? $50 or so. Would I have gone against Celebrity individually? Over $50? Get real; that is pocket change. I have a life. Was what Celebrity did wrong? Sure. So, I did not opt out of the class action suit (i.e., I let the plaintiffs continue to use me–with about 100,000 other people–in the case). I got some of my money back, with some coupons for my next cruise.

    DId the lawyers make some money? Yeah. I’m okay with that; maybe it is just me, but I think if someone works, they should get paid for it. I got my refund, Celebrity had to disgorge its unlawful profits, and the attorneys got paid. Problems? None that I can see.

  35. deborah wood Says:

    Imaras admission that the F-Word Network was watched and that Imaras actually believed the excrement that spews forth from the south end of swine that proclaims to be “fair and balanced”…(sounds of much hysterical laughing..oops let me pick myself up off the floor). Threats of doctors leaving practices and patients without caregivers were widely reported here in Texas and caps were implemented. The same scare tactics were started here in Texas by then Governor George W Bush and his sidekick Karl Rove and continued by Tom Delay and his side kick Governor Perry. Texans have had our rights severely restricted by our Republican majority legislature. Malpractice rates decreased for the doctors? Two carriers substantially raised rates. Let’s now have some insurance reform, regulation and enforce antitrust laws. Let’s look into accounting practices (remember Arthur Andersen?) of the insurance industry and see just how much money was lost due to risky stock market investments…losses that were passed onto doctors via increased rates and the blame went to those who were harmed. I’m not talking about tobacco or McDonalds. I am talking about the fact that between 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year in American hospitals due to medical errors (according to 1999 NIH report “to Err is Human”). Many more are harmed by medication errors. If this were to happen in the airline industry where thousands of Americans were dying from pilot/airline errors each year there would be much hue and cry wouldn’t there? There has to be a fair and balanced way to fix the problem for all.

  36. Conservative_Idiot Says:

    Gator says:

    “As an example, I was a one of about a hundred thousand class action plaintiffs (not the attorney) in a suit against Celebrity Cruise Lines. Celebrity overcharged its passengers for port fees. The total amount they overcharged me and my family? $50 or so. Would I have gone against Celebrity individually? Over $50? Get real; that is pocket change. I have a life. Was what Celebrity did wrong? Sure. So, I did not opt out of the class action suit (i.e., I let the plaintiffs continue to use me–with about 100,000 other people–in the case). I got some of my money back, with some coupons for my next cruise.”

    Sorry, Gator. Celebrity cheated you fair and square. When people cheat others, the cheaters should be allowed to keep the money.

    People shouldn’t be able to use the court systm to get relief from fraud. That isn’t what the court system is there for. Well, actually it is, but the lawyers shouldn’t be able to make money from it. Well, actually, if they work they should get paid. Never mind. What the hell do I know?

  37. Crazy Ed Says:

    Psychiatrists and general practioners are sued much less than obstetricians and neurosurgeons. If we get rid of all the OB’s and neurosurgeons and let the psychiatrists and GP’s deliver our babies and do brain surgery, then we’d be much better off as a society.

  38. barbara hamill Says:

    OK, only a guy, and a staggeringly uninformed one, would say “…the number of C-sections is rising in part because they are cheaper and safer than traditional vaginal delivery.” C-sections are MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY and I don’t say this only because I just had one. The idea that major abdominal surgery is safer is bizarre. Sure, squeezing a baby out a cervix is no walk in the park, but this is not SURGERY, with all the concomitant dangers inherent therein. More women may be choosing c-sections for short-term convenience but this does not make it safer. It makes them foolish or not terribly well-informed. And the idea that c-sections are cheaper is equally bizarre. Longer hospital stays, surgical suite charges, the presence of anesthesiologists and attendant assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists and nursery staff (c-sections are tough on babies too) jack up the cost of deliveries into the stratosphere. And most OB’s charge more too. The “studies” Mr. Carnell cites have been grossly misinterpreted. The fact is more women, even in places like the U.S., die as a result of C-sections than as a result of normal vaginal deliveries. Anyone who refuses to count the numbers is a dope, and anyone who says major abdominal surgery is safe is just nuts. There are certainly cases, as in mine, where a c-section is the only way to get a baby in trouble out of trouble, but it is certainly not the route of choice. If you don’t believe that, you’ve obviously never had your insides sliced open, taken out, patched up, then stuffed back in.

  39. Jim Russell Says:

    You don’t play fair. You waited until 36 eloquent word-smiths and experts alike stood on this plank, watched while we unknowingly slipped a rope around our neck, then exploited your unfair advantage of personal experience and common logic to kick the plank away.

    I’m complaining to management.

  40. deborah wood Says:

    Way to go Barbara!!! I was wondering when another woman would step up and tell it like it is to all the boys here at the site…And to Jim…love your sense of humor (as well as some others). I laughed pretty hard (and don’t we all need a good laugh nowadays?) when I pictured all you boys out on that plank!

  41. Blixa Says:

    But… but Barbara… didn’t you read Brian’s “summary” of the two “studies”?? 😉

    (I agree with you 100% – right on)

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