Revealed: Right-Wing Groups Spent Over $1 Million Bankrolling Fox News Host's Propaganda in Schools
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The new caretakers built a slick new website, archived more videos spanning Stossel's career, instituted a professional organization of requests and distribution, and began producing specially designed economics DVDs and teaching guides.
Stossel himself provides a brief welcome message from his Fox Business studio in the first segment of 2013's DVD "Good Intentions Gone Wrong," available free on the "Stossel In The Classroom" website:
The program now offers hundreds of free clips from Stossel's shows and specials that claim to seriously address a range of academic subjects, including Art ("Why does Hollywood Hate Capitalism?"), Biology ( "Debunking Food Myths"), and History (" The Real Story of Thanksgiving," which explains "how the Pilgrims were hurt by sharing").
"Stossel in the Classroom" also produces libertarian economics courses. The small team of economists that writes materials such as "Making Economics Come Alive with John Stossel" has multiple close ties to the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University.
The videos on the site are stacked with pundits echoing Stossel's radical laissez-faire views. A typical lesson pairs videos of Fox Business pundits tearing into a regulatory effort -- a video on the 2011 health care law features serial liar Betsy McCaughey and industrial-fan entrepreneur Bob Luddy -- with teacher's guides that ask if government regulation is necessary.
Students who answer "Yes" are unlikely to win many of the 225 cash prizes totaling $23,000 distributed annually in the "Stossel in the Classroom" essay contest. Last year's competition, entitled, "Politicians' Promises Gone Wrong," asked students to write an essay of between 500 and 1,000 words about the government's ability to deliver on its promises. Students could take either side, but the rules stipulated that the essays must reference or cite an example in Stossel's latest anti-government tract, No They Can't: Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed, or his associated TV special.
Last year's winners, who received all-expenses-paid trips to New York and appeared on Stossel's show, were both home school students. The winning entry, by a 13-year-old student, used the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 as an example of harmful government overreach, and in support of her case cited a Heritage Foundation analyst who suggested that as a result of the law employers would simply hire fewer women and minorities -- thus hurting both groups. Second place honors went to an essay that built its critique of government social spending around the metaphor of a class president candidate promising free candy to the student body. "While the students may enjoy the sugar and the candidate may have won the election," wrote the 15-year-old author, "the candy may give them cavities at the expense of the taxpayer."
It is unclear whether John Stossel is being paid for his role as the face of "Stossel in the Classroom." CIT did not return calls regarding $230,000 in expenses for the program categorized on its tax returns as "Other." Fox Business and Stossel himself likewise did not respond to requests for comment.