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Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,129 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Working as a correspondent for 20/20 and Good Morning America, John Stossel confronted dozens of scam artists: from hacks who worked out of their basements to some of America's most powerful executives and leading politicians. His efforts shut down countless crooks -- both famous and obscure. Then he realized what the real problem was.

In Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on t
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 25th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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Mike (the Paladin)
This is another situation where a "thinking" person starts out buying the standard line...the standard way of thinking and sets out to participate in it. Mr. Stossel was a consumer reporter for some time. he recounts here his intro into journalism, broadcast journalism, move to ABC and move to 20/20. (Since this book he has moved from ABC to Fox Network).

After some years of exposing conmen/conpeople, debunking false product claims etc. he found himself becoming more and more aware that in spite
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Johnrh
Oh these libertine Libertarians. Will they never stop chanting for individual rights and self-responsibility? What does Stossel think this is, a free country?

His book Give Me a Break : How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... by John Stossel (Feb 1, 2005) seems to speculate that it could be, or at least should be, or maybe once was. This investigative reporter and former host of ABC's 20/20 TV program has spent decades delving into the skul
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Shauna
I think I liked this book because 1)I could relate to his observations about the news business, and 2) I'm more of a libertarian in my beliefs than conservative. He had great things to say about the free markets, our litigious society, the war on drugs, etc. I found his changing beliefs amusing, since like most TV news employees, he was staunchly left, but found himself moving towards the right. The difference is, he admitted it, and then people decided to dislike him. If you're exposing big bus ...more
Wakefield Tolbert
"Gimme a BREAK, baby doll!"

I don't usually have time for tapping out reviews of the kinds of books I enjoy, but this one had to be mentioned with something a little more substantive than a hearty "like" or thumbs-up. So, behold, my review of John Stossel's "Give Me a Break":

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, in the PJ O'Rourke tradition that humor is the best medicine (the only at the moment!?) for the hilarious horrors and pitfalls of being, well, "governed".

H L Mencken once said democracy i
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Darla
Catching this one on audio in the car right now, and, boy, I am really coming to appreciate John Stossel. I'm on the chapter about the Nanny State right now- over regulation by the government strangling our choices & freedoms in the name of "consumer safety." Yah, thanks Big Brother... Great read!
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Excellent book. Actually has me rethinking my positions on drug legalization & voluntary prostitution. He makes some pretty convincing arguments for both, though an error on one comment t
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Michael
This book is just like his 20/20 specials. Stossel's message is well-illustrated with lots of stories. He skewers those on the political left (e.g. Ralph Nader and Democrats) and sometimes the right as well (Donald Trump and big corporations). It's very much a libertarian take in favor of free markets and limited government, and I'm inclined to agree with many of his points. But I'd love to hear an articulate response from another viewpoint. In any case, even if you disagree with his arguments, ...more
Aaron
The book starts like a memoir -- Stossel recounts his early career as a consumer advocate on television and his slide into what he later comes to know as a classic liberal philosophy. But he quickly drops the biographical angle and devotes most of the book to the subjects he covered as a libertarian television reporter working the defacto liberal new york media environment. Not having to battle the network producers and lawyers gives him the opportunity to be a little freer with his words.

Still
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Emily
This book was passed to me by a friend who found it interesting.

I will admit a bias toward John Stossel and his libertarian ideas when I read this book. So of course I enjoyed it and agree with most of what he said. Some of the facts and figures are probably outdated, and obviously he doesn't still work for ABC (which this book mostly talks about his time with said network). However, his theories continue to make sense.
Joy
I read this book about 6 years ago about a year after it first came out. I saw this in the library for sale section last week and picked it up for 50 cents remembering that it was a great book.

My parents were religious 20/20 watchers and my favorite part was always Stossel's "Give me a Break" section. This book chronicles how he went from a respected consumer reporter to a not well liked libertarian because he saw that government was wasting so much.

If you are jaded by today's liberal media or w
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Kev Reilly
Being John Stossel's first book, this read is half autobiographical & half debunking myths/facts (& shaming fraudsters).

I didn't know that Stossel was a stutterer (ok, at the time of writing this I'm a 27 year old who has only known of the man for a year) but one would assume the trait would have shown itself by now. Stossel is blunt in his honesty about his stuttering, his boss who he 'hated' to let him fix it & his mistakes on ABC's 20/20.

Another interesting part of the book is Sto
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melydia
This is a quick read. I enjoyed Stossel's conversational tone and his no-nonsense way of addressing the issues. And in general I agree that government needs to shrink, lawsuits need to be reduced, and there's no virtue in being a victim. His anecdotes were a mixture of humorous and maddening, as most stories of government stupidity are. Unfortunately, I don't see this book as convincing anyone with firmer beliefs than the most tenuous of fence-sitters. As a reporter, Stossel knows how to break d ...more
Justin Tapp
tossel is great and unique. Check out his website. He is from the opposite economic spectrum from Krugman, readily quoting Milton Friedman and Frederick Von Hayek. His book is about journalism, and so many of the myths we believe in because of bad journalism and good lawyers. Here are some of Stossel's "truths": Large amounts of vitamin C don't help fight off any diseases, silicone breast implants never were harmful, there's no such thing as a "crack baby," and cutting your salt intake won't hel ...more
Chris
a great look at how regulatory agencies, govt, the news, and other topics are a big scam and ruining our lives and america. An argument for increased freedoms. Second time reading it and will now give away to friends. Spoiler alert...you can stop watching the news in hopes to "get informed."
Kellyanne Lynch
As with John Stossel's reports, this book really opened my eyes to government waste and the way the media and others try to hide it or ignore that it's happening.
Paul
First published in 2004, Give Me A Break... now seems a little dated. What isn't dated is Stossel's logical, rational, fact-based methodology for exposing the lies, damned lies and statistics that politicians and government bureaucrats use to brainwash us. He cites example and after example of how our freedoms continue to erode at the hands of idiots and morons. If you sense something has gone utterly wrong in the United States of America and you're looking to understand the whats and the whys, ...more
David Robins
Somewhat a story about how John Stossel became a libertarian (but not an anarchist! no, never that!), and how the liberals that fawned over his consumer product reporting turned on him when he went after the state and special interests such as unions. Some good libertarian principles in the book, such as ownership of one's own body, but someone needs to tell him that if violence is bad, then it makes no sense to preserve any part of a violent state.
Lynn
You will recognize John Stossel as a consumer advocate, now 20-20 lead anchor. He has turned Libertarian (wanting limited government). He explains how in every walk of life, when the gov't gets involved, all incentive to innovate and improve is gone. The country does better with unfettered capitalism. The free market could solve problems but people don't want to wait for that. Instead, we get bigger bureaucracy and higher government spending.
Dreepa
This book started as a history of how Stossel got his start and his early years as a consumer reporter and then how he saw the same fraud in public companies in the government. But when he exposed that he was then seen as a bad person. Funny actually.
I didn't really gain much political knowledge but do think that people who trust 'big government' to solve every problem should read this book to get an understanding where he comes from.
Kylie Towers
I listened to this on my way home for the holidays. It was entertaining and interesting. He appealed to my old school conservatism without alienating the liberalism I've come to embrace in the last 7 years. Lots of little "ah ha" and "ohhh..." moments that I wanted to remember to mention to other people, but of course forgot most of them the minute I finished the last cd. Not as good as Andy Rooney, but not too bad.
Erik

My only complaint about this book is the title. Citing the "liberal" media in the title will only serve to alienate a number of people who might otherwise have read and enjoyed this book. This is not about liberal politics and/or media, but rather a discussion of the "flip side" of the stories we see on the news. Very enlightening, and written in a conversational manner that makes this a very quick read.
Melinda
I enjoyed this very much. He has an easy reading style, and is plainly passionate about his subject. He gave a lot of interesting examples from his work as a reporter. I can see why some love him and some hate him. I disagree with a couple points, but mostly he makes sense: corporations need to have light shone on what they're doing, but government is no cure and frequently makes things worse.
Lincoln
You can't believe some of the stuff there selling us and how they do it! I'm not sure I agree with everything Stossel has to say, particulary from a moral standpoint, but when you stop and think about it, I don't want my government legislating morality to the degree it does anyway. Some very interesting food for thought particulary if you like the idea of shrinking government.
Kaydence
Such a good book! Fact-based and interesting, this book really walks you through the pitfalls of government being in charge of pretty much everything. Every time the government is in charge they will answer to special interests, they will over- spend and they will make things worse. John Stossel's own conversion story is interesting and adds a bit of reality and common sense.
Joe N.
This is an amazing book that many should read.It's full of facts and interesting insights. I really enjoyed his conversion story and downright honesty. I agree with basically everything he says in this book except two things that he doesn't even explain or argue why he thinks this way. He just simply states his opinion and moves on. Great book, highly recommend.
Schu
A meaningful read as I learned about 'the way things are' and how the system is constantly used and abused in the name of 'good'. This book will challenge what you believe is right and make you think about whether something like government should have the power it does today. It is neither liberal or conservative as a whole, but plenty provocative.
Erich Franz Guzmann
Jul 07, 2009 Erich Franz Guzmann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone! Liberty & Non-Liberty Individuals
Recommended to Erich by: Ian "Freeman" Bernard
This book is full of hard hitting truths! Covers so many important aspects of the media, such as mainstream television news stations. This book is essential for the people that stay informed. John Stossel honesty as someone that finds the truth in news is heroic. I wish we had more people in news that are as principled as he is!
Michael Clutton
Jan 19, 2010 Michael Clutton rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a dose of reality
If you love big government or if you're one of those liberals who think the guys at the top of these big companies are doing the best they can for the little guy... you'll hate this book.

On the other hand, if you believe in straight talk and the proof to back it up - prepare to have your eyebrows raised.
Rick Mullenax
John Stossel's journey in consumer reporting for ABC's 20/20 was eye opening. He used to be for government regulation against big corporations, but the more he reported, the more he discovered that regulation created more problems. After a while, Stossel became Libertarian. Amazing read.
Kathy
Love John Stossel. He is so down-to-earth and full of common sense. His book chronicles the growth of his political outlook--and how the main-stream media went from loving to hating him. Makes a great case for freedom and against government interference in our lives.
Heather
Feb 23, 2008 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: conservatives, people who want a new perspective
Recommended to Heather by: gjman
Shelves: political, nonfiction
This book has a lot of good points, but it gets very repetetive very quickly. I actually didn't finish the entire book. I got most of the way through it but thought "Hey! I get the point already!" I tend to agree with John Stossell though much of the book.
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“Natural gas is highly explosive, invisible, poisonous, and odorless. Yet we accept natural gas, even though it kills not two but 400 Americans a year, because it was introduced before we got crazy about risk. We accept coal, even though mining it is nasty and filthy and kills dozens of people every year. By contrast, we're terrified of nuclear energy. Chernobyl, the worst nuclear power disaster ever, killed only 30 people. Some say the radiation may eventually kill others, but even if that's true, natural gas kills more people every year.” 3 likes
“On September 11, it was government that failed. Law enforcement agencies didn't detect the plot. The FBI had reports that said young men on the terrorist watch list were going from flight school to flight school, trying to find an instructor who would teach them how to fly a commercial jet. But the FBI never acted on it. The INS let the hijackers in. Three of them had expired visas. Months after the attack, the government issued visas to two dead hijackers.
The solution to such government incompetence is to give the government more power?
Congress could have done what Amsterdam, Belfast, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London, Paris, and Rome did: set tough standards and let private companies compete to meet them. Many of those cities switched to private companies because they realized government-run security wasn't working very well. Private-sector competition keeps the screeners alert because the airport can fire them. No one can fire the government; that's a reason government agencies gradually deteriorate. There's no competition.”
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