Con­sumer re­porter hosted pop­u­lar syn­di­cated show

The Tribune (SLO) - - News/Obituaries -


David Horowitz, whose syn­di­cated pro­gram “Fight Back!” made him per­haps the best-known con­sumer re­porter in the U.S., has died. He was 81.

KNBC-TV said Horowitz’s death was re­ported by his wife, Suzanne. The date of his death was not im­me­di­ately re­leased.

“Fight Back! With David Horowitz” won mul­ti­ple Em­mys and a huge au­di­ence as Horowitz in­ves­ti­gated prod­uct de­fects, tested ad­ver­tis­ing claims and con­fronted com­pa­nies with cus­tomer com­plaints. It aired on KNBC-TV where Horowitz was con­sumer re­porter for more than 15 years.

At its peak, the pro­gram was syn­di­cated on dozens of TV sta­tions across the coun­try. Horowitz also made reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances on KNBC news­casts and on NBC’s “To­day” show, did ra­dio com­men­taries and had a news­pa­per col­umn.

“I don’t con­sider my­self a con­sumer ad­vo­cate,” Horowitz told the Los An­ge­les Times in 1988. “If you’re on tele­vi­sion you have to re­ally be broad­cast­ing in the pub­lic in­ter­est … but you also have to be ob­jec­tive … I do a lot of sto­ries where the con­sumer’s wrong – where they’re try­ing to rip off com­pa­nies, too.”

In 1987, Horowitz was taken hostage dur­ing a KNBC-TV broad­cast by a gun­man with men­tal prob­lems. The jour­nal­ist read the man’s state­ments on cam­era although the hostage-taker didn’t real- ize the broad­cast had been cut. The weapon turned out to be an empty BB gun. The ex­pe­ri­ence led Horowitz to join a suc­cess­ful cam­paign to outlaw re­al­is­tic-look­ing toy guns in Cal­i­for­nia.

His re­port­ing was crit­i­cized by some con­sumer ad­vo­cates and re­porters as be­ing too con­cerned with show­man­ship and lessse­ri­ous con­sumer con­cerns, such as whether a par­tic­u­lar pop­corn brand lived up to its ad­ver­tis­ing.

But the Chicago Tri­bune noted in 1987 that Horowitz waged suc­cess­ful cam­paigns to re­move lifethreat­en­ing sul­fites from salad bars and to re­quire au­tomak­ers to in­stall rear win­dow col­li­sion-avoid­ance lights. He was hon­ored by con­sumer groups and in 1981 be­came the first news­man to re­ceive the Chief U.S. Postal In­spec­tor’s Award for un­cov­er­ing mail fraud, the Tri­bune re­ported. Horowitz also took heat for his paid work for Bet­ter Books, which of­fered di­rec­to­ries with ads, con­sumer tips and lists of Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau mem­bers but col­lapsed into bankruptcy.

Horowitz was born June 30, 1937, in the Bronx and held a mas­ter’s de­gree in jour­nal­ism from North­west­ern Univer­sity. Be­fore join­ing KNBC-TV in the 1970s, he worked for var­i­ous news­pa­pers and TV sta­tions. Horowitz also ap­peared as him­self on episodes of “Sil­ver Spoons,” “ALF,” “The Golden Girls” and “Saved by the Bell.”

In ad­di­tion to his wife, he is sur­vived by two daugh­ters and two grand­chil­dren.

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