June 27, 2001

Tampering With Truth: Parents' Letter

Letter from concerned parents to John Stossel
Received via fax 6/25/2001

Mr. John Stossel
ABC News
47 West 66th Street
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. Stossel:

We are parents of the children whom you interviewed on Earth Day (April 22nd) of this year about their environmental education experiences for your upcoming piece called Tampering with Nature.

We are disturbed by the way your staff withheld your involvement with the segment and misrepresented the nature of the piece. In our eyes, you and your staff sought and obtained our permission to interview our children in violation of the Code of Ethics for the Society of Professional Journalists. Specifically, the sections reading:

"Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects."

"Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information."

Some of us witnessed the interview you conducted with our children and saw how you asked leading questions to get them to say what you wanted. Had we known in advance of your interview tactics, or the nature of the piece, we would never have allowed you to interview our children.

Reinforcing our concerns, we have since been apprised of the research by the Environmental Working Group that showed that you fabricated two sets of test results in your flawed organic food story last year.

Upon reflection, we are no longer comfortable with you using our children in your upcoming segment, and we hereby revoke the permission we gave earlier. Specifically, we do not permit you, your staff or ABC News to use our children for whatever ideological or journalistic purposes lie behind your work. We ask that you remove any and all footage that involves our children's voices and/or images from your program.


Concerned Parents in California

Parental signature 1 Parental signature 4
Steve Gomer Carrie Scott
Parental signature 2 Parental signature 5
Craig Mohr Michael Scott
Parental signature 3 Parental signature 6
Didi Yamagoto Brad Neal
Parental signature 7  
Semere Ab  


CC: David Westin, President, ABC News
Kerry Marash, Vice President of Editorial Quality, ABC News
Peter Jennings, Anchor and Senior Editor, World News Tonight
Barbara Walters, Correspondent & Co-Anchor, 20/20
Michael Eisner, Chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Productions
Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group