His entry into consumer advocacy began in 1973, when NBC News asked him to develop a consumer reporting segment. This was a new direction for the mainstream journalist and former Vietnam war correspondent and cameraman. David's "Action 4" problem-solving consumer segments soon aired twice-weekly. David quickly disproved the long-held notion that consumer issues were an intrusion into the tightly-knit world of "news, sports and weather" and didn't belong in a network newscast. In fact, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences credited David as having the first and most successful program feature on television news, which led the way toward more features and special reports on news programs across the country.
In a short time, "Action 4" was receiving over 5,000 pieces of mail per week, his staff grew and grown took on new programming challenges. His success and consumer programming savvy was used by the NBC affiliates to train Betty Furness to do similar work at WNBC in New York, and Leah Thomson adopted the same concept at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.
Then, "David Horowitz Consumer Guideline" was added each night on the NBC owned and operated stations -- adding up to a total of 10 long-form consumer segments airing each week. That year, he was asked to develop a new program at KNBC, first the "David Horowitz's Consumer Newsreel," which became "California Consumer Byline" and then "David Horowitz Consumer Byline." The focus of these new programs was a new and radical one -- challenging consumer product claims -- a feature for which David became famous worldwide.
The show was syndicated by Group W Productions, and was and overwhelming success. Within two years it was renamed "Fight Back! With David Horowitz." It enjoyed a run of eighteen seasons, one of the longest running shows to date of any genre, let alone a consumer reporting program.
"Fight Back!" evolved with the times. One of its most popular features was the commercial challenges, which were entertaining as well as informative. The challenges included products being dropped from a helicopter, or being smashed with wrecking balls, to test claims of strength ... the popular "Timex Watch" challenges (which were all successful, by the way) ... durability tests featuring "Geeta the Elephant," a series regular from the Los Angeles Zoo, who tested the strength of products ranging from roof tiles to water beds. David recalls that 95% of all challenges proved the companies' claims, but the 5% failure rate sent worried manufacturers into a panic.
With a nod to David's journalistic background, the show also featured serious and hard-hitting investigative segments, which often led to successful criminal prosecutions. David also achieved international attention for his calm and composure when a gunman evaded NBC's studio security, and suddenly appeared on the set of the afternoon news, brandishing a gun. The man held David at gunpoint, and demanded David read his rambling statement. Only after the man's arrest was it determined that the gun was, in fact, a toy replica. But that incident launched David into a successful campaign to draft legislation in California, New York and twelve other states, regarding banning or otherwise regulating "look-alike" toy guns. The U.S. Congress also passed a bill regulating the shapes and colors of toy guns, so that they no longer appear realistic.
Fight Back! With David Horowitz has become multi-media, through the fightback.com website, his nationally syndicated newspaper column, syndicated short-form radio features on the Jones Radio network, television appearances, and the Fight Back! Talk Back! radio program, which airs on Talk Radio Network along with live internet streaming. David continues to tackle consumer issues such as product safety, liability and commercial claims, and has expanded his focus into high-tech issues such as internet and telecommunications fraud and identity fraud.
He founded the non-profit "Fight Back! Foundation for Consumer Education" in 1983, organized with the help of the College of Consumer Sciences at Purdue University. The foundation, which receives funding produced by revenue from the internet "Fight Back! Write Back!" service, funds the summer internship program at fightback.com, and offers scholarships to student pursuing journalism and consumer-related degrees. The Foundation has endowed the David Horowitz Scholarship Fund, at his alma mater Bradley University (Peoria, Illinois) with a $50,000 grant.
In addition to providing consumer education through the Foundation and fightback.com, David is developing a new television show which would complement the Fight Back! Talk Back! " syndicated radio show. Critics have called his style fresh and entertaining, and the show is enlightening.
For more ways to Fight Back... stay tuned!
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