By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
There's a new mustache at Fox, but Geraldo Rivera, who sports the most famous tickler in TV news, isn't scared. That's because whiskers No. 2 is a Geraldo pal who has followed Rivera's professional footsteps: John Stossel, who just joined Fox after some 30 years at ABC, much of it as an investigative reporter on 20/20. "What's amazing is that at 20/20, my office was next to his," says the new kid, whose weekly show Stossel debuted last week on Fox Business Network. "I show up at Fox, and my office is next to his."
For his part, Geraldo, who focuses on sensational stories like Tiger Woods's affairs, sounds like a mentor. Stossel "was great for 20/20, and his enterprise reporting and feisty, libertarian point of view makes him a perfect fit for the Fox News family." And who is top mustache? "After intense negotiations, my friend John has agreed that I remain senior mustache," says Geraldo. Stossel's cool with that. "His is his; mine is mine," he tells Whispers. "I think his is bigger than mine."
Stossel danced with Fox for a long time before leaving 20/20, where he was known for contrarian reporting and his trademark "Give me a break" segments. "When I would have a special at 20/20, the subject appealed to people at Fox, and they would invite me over to do O'Reilly or Hannity or Fox and Friends," he says. "When I would appear on CNN, I was viewed as not part of the mainstream in a way that just made me feel much more welcome at Fox."
Fred Francis, a former NBC reporter now with 15-Seconds.com, calls the Fox-Stossel teaming a good fit. "Four noble reasons: John gets a paycheck and a platform; Fox Biz gets a brand name and some buzz," he says.
At Fox, Stossel plans to expand his questioning of authority, especially official Washington and President Obama. "There's a magic-politician conceit that everything that happens happens because somebody in Washington makes it happen. This is why I wanted to come to Fox," he says. "Obama acts like everything comes from him or Washington. That's a terrible thing. Because Washington's one-size-fits-all rules will do more harm than good."
Stossel even has his eye on first lady Michelle Obama and her South Lawn garden. "I'd like to know how much fertilizer and pesticide she uses per green bean versus the big factory farms to see who's more organic," says Stossel, who adds with sarcasm: "I'm sure she does it all by herself."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR.