Stossels first special, Are We Scaring Ourselves To Death?, examined exaggerated fears over risks such as crime and pollution. It was followed by The Blame Game, which looked at Americans growing tendency to blame their misfortunes on others.
He looked at gender differences in Boys and Girls Are Different, the mechanics of mating in Love, Lust, and Marriage, and the science behind happiness for The Mystery of Happiness. He examined bogus lawsuits in The Trouble With Lawyers and bogus scientific claims in Junk Science: What You Know That May Not Be So. Freeloaders focused on how getting something for nothing appeals to all of us, including rich people who use the power of government to help themselves. Greed offered a positive perspective on enlightened self-interest, challenging conventional wisdom on how we view businessmen, philanthropy and the social impact of such individuals as Michael Milken and Mother Teresa. Stossel openly questioned why Americans are routinely jailed for voluntarily participating in the so-called consensual crimes in Sex, Drugs and Consenting Adults.
The specials, which have consistently rated among the top news programs when broadcast, have earned Stossel uncommon praise: the most consistently thought-provoking TV reporter of our time (Dallas Morning News), has the gift for entertaining while saying something profound (Orlando Sentinel).
Recently for 20/20 Stossel has reported on a case of alleged sexual misconduct at Brown University, on teens who suffer from Tourettes syndrome, on womensome in apparently happy marriageswho discover later in life that they are lesbians; and on why many Americans younger than 35 believe that the Social Security system will not exist when they face retirement. In a new segment for 20/20 Give Me a Break, Stossel has taken skeptical looks at people who want to censor cartoons, regulate flagpoles, and have Congress rule on what prices are fair.
Stossel has received 19 Emmy Awards. He has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. Among his other awards are the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award.
In his early years at ABC, Stossel served as consumer editor at Good Morning America. Prior to that, he was consumer editor for WCBS-TV in New York City. He began as a researcher for KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon. He is a 1969 graduate of Princeton University with a B.A. in psychology.