The Church of Scientology has reacted very badly, and very predictably, to the Sundance Film Festival debut of Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief. Gibney’s documentary is based upon Lawrence Wright’s best-selling book of the same name.
As it always does when it is exposed as a fascist and inherently violent organization, the Church of Scientology has collapsed into its usual Paroxysms of Hysteria.
The Church is Scientology is well-known for the hyperventilating and venomous North Korean style propaganda it churns out when its dark side is exposed.
The Church is reacting to Gibney and HBO in exactly the same way it did to Time Magazine’s seminal 1991 cover story Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power by Richard Behar.
In his article, Behar bravely wrote that Scientology is, ”a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner.” Alex Gibney displays the same courage in examining Scientology in his new documentary.
Scientology went ballistic over Behar’s piece and engaged in a series of actions it is now repeating with Gibney and HBO. Scientology’s attack on Gibney and HBO is Time Magazine Redux.
1991: Scientology placed full-page ads attacking both Time and Behar in USA Today. These ads were placed Monday-Friday for twelve consecutive weeks.
2015: Scientology placed full-page ads in USA Today and the Los Angeles Times attacking Gibney and HBO executive Sheila Nevins.
1991: Scientology used its full-page USA Today ads in an attempt to smear Time Magazine for selecting Hitler as its Man of the Year in 1938. Scientology wildly claimed that this somehow proved that Time was connected to Hitler, Nazi Psychiatry, and the Holocaust. Scientology tried to smear Time magazine as being a crypto-Nazi publication that peddled deadly psychiatric medications in its ads. In the same period Scientology was attacking Time, the Church quietly signed a contract with PR giant Hill & Knowlton to improve Scientology’s public image and stop the negative press. This deal later blew up and ended in a lawsuit.
UPDATE: January 31, 2015: As reported on Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker, Scientologists posting online are now echoing the 1991 attack on Time Magazine; this as HBO is owned by Time Warner. This is further proof that Scientology’s attack on Gibney and HBO is Time Magazine Redux:
“HBO is owned by Time Magazine which made Hitler their man of the year in 1938 thus assisting him in the slaughter of 6 million jews and many more millions of Europeans. HBO’s “news” programs are controlled by the UK/EU/US Bilderberger pedophile sociopaths. Those who who push HBO’s propaganda are ALL headed for prison and the ash heap of history – where they belong.”
2015: Scientology’s rabid in-house propaganda organ Freedom Magazine engages in yet another of its typically smarmy and deceitful attempts to smear those responsible for an unsparing and factual look at the Church. This time, Freedom puts Alex Gibney and his sources in its gun sights. Going earlier on the chain, Freedom Magazine attacked Lawrence Wright in 2011 for claimed inaccuracies in his New Yorker article entitled The Apostate. Wright’s article covered Paul Haggis and his departure from the Church of Scientology. The Apostate was the genesis of Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief. Hence, the current Scientology hysteria over Gibney and HBO is essentially a turgid rehash of its 2011 attack on Wright and the New Yorker.
1991 Lawsuit: While Scientology’s current attack on Gibney and HBO is a Time Magazine Redux, the one difference is that, in 1991, Scientology alleged libel and sued Richard Behar and Time Warner for a whopping $416,000,000. The Church additionally sued Reader’s Digest for publishing a condensed version of the Time article in France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. It remains to be seen if Scientology sues Gibney, HBO, or their sources. Such a move carries the risk of counter lawsuits that name David Miscavige, Linda Hamel, and other Church executives. Additionally, these same Sea Org members could be sued as individuals as they are not employees of CSI and are rather volunteers who belong to an unincorporated religious order. In any case, lawsuits seeking to pierce the corporate veils of the Scientology Spaghetti Maze seem inevitable.
1996: The judge in the Time Magazine case dismissed Scientology’s lawsuit. Scientology also lost on appeal. From the Spring 2001 issue of The News Media & The Law:
“A federal appellate court upheld Time magazine’s portrayal of the Church of Scientology as ‘Mafia-like’ because the reporter conducted a standard investigation before writing an article critical of the church.”
“In affirming a district court dismissal, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York (2nd Cir.) agreed that reporter Richard Behar did not write the article ‘Scientology: The Cult of Greed’ with reckless disregard for the truth. In researching the article, Behar claimed Time ‘conducted more than 150 interviews and reviewed hundreds of court records and internal Scientology documents,’ although Scientology officials refused to be interviewed.”
“The appellate court said on Jan. 12 that Behar’s extensive investigation — including interviews, affidavits, and published articles — was adequate to establish a lack of actual malice. Behar’s interviews were with credible sources who had close ties to Scientology and whom Behar would have no reason to doubt, the court reasoned.”
DAVID MISCAVIGE’S ONE AND ONLY TELEVISION INTERVIEW
1992: Scientology leader David Miscavige is interviewed by Ted Koppel on Nightline. Miscavige offered the self-serving argument that the Time article was revenge for Scientology having cost the magazine its Prozac ad revenues. Koppel won an Emmy for this segment; Miscavige has never done another television interview.