Scientology Media Productions

Scientology, Harvey Weinstein, and Crisis Management Entrepreneur Mike Sitrick

When the stories of Harvey Weinstein perpetrating sexual assaults and rapes began to surface in  2017, Weinstein retained the services of Sitrick & Company. We cover the story of Weinstein here as Mike Sitrick and his firm have represented the Church of Scientology. Sitrick’s business of “crisis management” apparently has an Ecclesiastical Division in the company as Sitrick did work for the Los Angeles Archdiocese as it fought law enforcement and victims for decades under the leadership of the now disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahony.

Scientology’s disastrous 2013 advertorial in The Atlantic created a big PR blowback for the Church of Scientology:

While we don’t know if Sitrick was behind the advertorial; what we do know is that he took calls in response to David Miscavige’s self-aggrandizing advertorial. In these calls Sitrick stated that he had been working for the Church of Scientology for three and a half years. That would take us back to 2009 time frame. This was a crucial period in Scientology’s history. Anonymous had taken on the Church in 2008. Other than Scientology creating a laughably fake anthrax threat and accusing Anons of being the terrorists behind it, Scientology showed a complete inability to handle Anonymous.

For new Scientology watchers, a bit of history is in order to show why Anonymous choose to take on the Church of Scientology in 2008. Part of the story goes back to 2005 when South Park famously lampooned Scientology, Tom Cruise, and John Travolta.

SCIENTOLOGY, TOM CRUISE, SOUTH PARK, CAA & ANONYMOUS

Ronan Farrow, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the center of the Harvey Weinstein story, is represented by Creative Artists Agency. CAA is worth noting here as Tom Cruise’s agent Kevin Huvane is a managing partner at the Hollywood powerhouse CAA. Cruise’s long-time production partner Paula Wagner, who had helped Cruise launch the lucrative Mission Impossible franchise in 1993 when Cruise/Wagner Productions began, was a former CAA agent. Wagner’s husband Rick Nicita was a partner at CAA through 2008.

When South Park episode 912 “Trapped in the Closet” — an episode that satirized Scientology, Cruise, and Travolta — was set to air in November 2005, Cruise and Scientology called upon their contacts at CAA for help. A meeting was set up to see what could be done to stop the South Park episode from airing . Mike Rinder, who was then in charge of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs, was dispatched to CAA along with other Scientology execs to ask for CAA’s help in stopping the broadcast of the South Park episode.

Jacob Siegel’s 2015 story in the Daily Beast Why Scientology’s Cone of Silence Shattered offers a revealing insight into Scientology’s attempt to stop South Park episode 912 from airing:

“When South Park did their program, I went to CAA,” said Rinder, using the abbreviation for Creative Artists Agency, a top Hollywood talent agency that represented Cruise.

Rinder said this is what happened next:

“The Tom Cruise card was played with CAA to get them to put pressure on Comedy Central and Viacom. Ultimately, it really backfired.

CAA was opposed to Scientology’s attempt at censorship. Scientology failed in getting South Park episode 912 from airing in the United States. However, South Park did not rebroadcast the episode due to pressures exerted by Scientology. Moreover, Scientology and Cruise succeeded in getting the episode stopped in England due to that country’s medieval libel laws. This Scientology act of censorship was widely reported. The young people who were avid fans of South Park took notice. Many of these young people were members of 4chan, the online bulletin board whose members called themselves Anonymous.

Scientology’s next major act of censorship was in 2008 when the Church got a leaked Tom Cruise video taken down from YouTube. This video was an internal Church of Scientology video in which a very radicalized Tom Cruise exhorts his fellow Scientologists to “go to guns” against Scientology’s enemies. It was Scientology’s takedown of this video that triggered Anonymous to launch its Project Chanology campaign against the Church of Scientology. The campaign began with a stunning video that is a masterpiece of psychological warfare:

INDEPENDENT SCIENTOLOGY

In 2009 the Independent Scientology movement followed on the heels of Anonymous and Scientology proved equally inept at handling the startling revelations of former high level Scientology executives. The Tampa Bay Times series called The Truth Rundown was devastating in its exposure of Scientology leader David Miscavige and his physical violence. The Truth Rundown chronicled the stories of former high level Scientology Sea Org executives who had lived through the hell of David Miscavige’s dystopian nightmare at the International Base located in San Jacinto, California. The seminal Truth Rundown series is now available as an e-Book for Kindle.

Bringing in Mike Sitrick at this time of crisis for Scientology would be a move David Miscavige would make. But what else could Miscavige do given that he had decimated the executive strata of Scientology? In 2009, Scientology’s remaining execs were either locked up in the SP Hole while others were secretly planning their escapes.

David Miscavige responded to the Independent Scientology movement with the Squirrel Busters. This proved to be an epic PR and legal disaster for Scientology. Miscavige also deployed the angry Tommy Davis as Scientology’s spokesman. Davis’ public behavior was an embarrassment. Accordingly he became a PR liability and was either placed on, or took, a leave of absence from the Sea Org whereupon he disappeared off the radar for some time. Other PR disasters for Scientology ensured. Scientology very publicly attacked, in no particular order, Lawrence Wright, Paul Haggis, Alex Gibney, Leah Remini, my dear wife Karen de la Carriere, Mike Rinder, CNN, Anderson Cooper, Vanity Fair, The Tampa Bay Times, and dozens of other people and media outlets that exposed this greedy, lying, and vicious cult. The world watched and saw Scientology Fair Game at work.

Due to the Church of Scientology’s own malicious behavior it had become a walking PR disaster, a self-destructive and disgusting mess.

What does a Cult with a toxic reputation and an uncontrollable need for revenge do?

Scientology did what Harvey Weinstein, Michael Vick, Cardinal Mahony, and numerous other miscreants have done and that is to call Mike Sitrick for help with a self-inflicted disaster. Mike Sitrick shamelessly boasts about the horrendous clients he’s represented. This appears on his company’s own website:


Sitrick boasting about having worked for the Los Angeles Catholic Diocese when it was engulfed in covering up child molestation is extraordinarily disturbing; the boast seems to be a very naked solicitation to do business with the worst scum of society. For an alleged PR genius to brag about helping a Church engaged in protecting pedophile priests is bizarre. One would think Mr. Sitrick would be more discreet about such matters: Halle Barry, Ron Burkle, Roy Disney, and Rush Limbaugh would certainly not like knowing they had been lumped in with pedophile priests on Sitrick & Company’s website.

SITRICK & COMPANY: THE INITIAL HARVEY WEINSTEIN DENIAL

When the call for help came in from Harvey Weinstein, Mike Sitrick’s mother had just passed away and Sitrick was in Chicago making final arrangements. Accordingly, Sitrick assigned the Weinstein case to his employee Sallie Hofmeister. She issued a completely tone deaf denial on Weinstein’s behalf:

Any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.

This press release shows Sitrick & Company at its worst: The firm appears to have such contempt for Hollywood and the general public that it actually believed it could portray Weinstein as a contrite figure who “has listened to the community” and deserved a second chance. Sorry, Sitrick & Company, Harvey Weinstein is not Mel Gibson. Gibson made stupid drunken anti-Semitic comments; he did not rape women.

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Read Geoffrey Pullum’s brilliant linguistic takedown of Harvey Weinstein’s denial as written by Sallie Hofmeister: The Strange Language of Harvey Weinstein’s Denial

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PROVEABLE BULLSHIT

Two years before Harvey Weinstein was engulfed in a firestorm of his own making, Scientology leader David Miscavige was likewise caught in a maelstrom of horrendous PR of his own making. In 2015, the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Miscavige had hired a father-son team of armed private investigators to secretly follow his own father for two years, this after Ron Miscavige Sr. and his wife had escaped Scientology’s Sea Org. When Ron Miscavige Sr. appeared to be having a heart attack in the parking lot of a Wisconsin supermarket, the PI’s called and asked David Miscavige if they should intervene and call for help. David Miscavige cold-bloodedly replied, “If he dies, let him die.” Outraged by the story going viral, the Church of Scientology issued an angry denial to The Hollywood Reporter that was unique in the annals of ecclesiastical denials:

As for the purported emergency incident involving an investigator and the second-hand account of an alleged conversation containing a despicably false quote, Mr. Miscavige’s attorney, Michael Lee Hertzberg, is on record stating that Mr. Miscavige does not know the investigator, has never heard of the investigator, has never met the investigator, has never spoken to the investigator, never hired the investigator and never directed any investigations by him.

So let me be clear: No such conversation with Mr. Miscavige ever took place and any claim that one did is provable bullshit.

David Miscavige’s belligerent denial mirrors that of Harvey Weinstein. As reported by AV Club, Weinstein disrupted group sessions when he was going through the charade of sex therapy in 2017:

According to sources at the outpatient clinic—where Weinstein, committed to changing his behavior patterns, drops in after spending his nights in a luxury hotel—Weinstein has been derailing group therapy sessions with his belligerent rants about “how this is all a conspiracy against him,” insisting “he never raped or assaulted anyone, and that all the encounters were consensual.” That Weinstein continues to downplay or outright dismiss the more than 40 women who have now accused him of sexual harassment or assault isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s followed this story, or are generally familiar with sexual abusers.

What Harvey Weinstein and David Miscavige have in common is that both are sleazebags who, when cornered, angrily protest that there is a conspiracy against them and that the bad acts of which they stand accused are baseless, i.e. “proveable bullshit” in the shrill argot of Scientology.

WEINSTEIN’S BOGUS CONTRITION

One of Sitrick’s textbook plays is to paint a miscreant client as a sincerely contrite person who seeks repentance by performing good acts. Thus, in a desperate and phony gambit that reeked of trying to buy his way out of what was shaping up to be a future prison sentence, Weinstein announced that he wanted to donate $5 million dollars to USC to fund to female filmmakers. USC wanted nothing to with Weinstein’s inept pandering and sleazy attempts at damage control into which he had dragged his own mother:

As allegations of sexual harassment against embattled film mogul Harvey Weinstein continue to unfold, the USC School of Cinematic Arts said Tuesday that it is rejecting a $5-million pledge Weinstein had made to fund a program for female filmmakers.

Weinstein referenced the pledge last week in a statement to the New York Times in response to the paper’s exhaustive story detailing accusations of sexual misconduct against him going back decades. “It will be named after my mom, and I won’t disappoint her,” he wrote.

TIME TO DITCH THE CLIENT 

Abby Aguirre’s recent New York Times story about Mike Sitrick is aptly entitled He Fixes the Worst P.R. Crises Imaginable. Then Comes Harvey Weinstein. In her insightful article Aguirre shows that Mike Sitrick’s vaunted grasp of a situation seems to have failed him in the case of Harvey Weinstein:

As the #MeToo dam broke, the allegations against Mr. Weinstein multiplied. So did Sitrick and Company’s rebuttals… Sitrick and Company issued what would turn out to be one of its final statements to USA Today, for an article on March 22: “Mr. Weinstein categorically denies ever engaging in any non-consensual sexual conduct with anyone.”

Two months later Mr. Weinstein was arrested. His lawyer is Benjamin Brafman, whose clients have included Martin Shkreli, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Vincent Gigante, known as “The Chin.”

Only when it became inevitable that Weinstein was headed for felony charges did Sitrick & Company drop Weinstein. The Hollywood Reporter carried the headline:

THE COLLAPSE OF THE GOOD OLD BOY’S NETWORK

Harvey Weinstein’s arrest draws attention to the ability of wealthy and powerful evildoers such as Harvey Weinstein, the Church of Scientology, Enron and other Sitrick clients to spend lavish sums of money to spin the story in an attempt to redefine, deny, and portray themselves as something other than deviant individuals and organizations.

We view Sitrick & Company as a part of the larger ecosystem of corruption where monied elites are able to use their power and wealth to distort the news by using carefully crafted spin, cover ups, fake news, lies, threats, and denials. As we see it, Mike Sitrick and his firm are quickly becoming dinosaurs in the rapidly collapsing American “Good Old Boy’s Network.”

If Harvey Weinstein had owned a crystal ball in 2016, he could have skipped paying Sitrick & Company and conserved his funds for the large and expensive criminal defense team he will need. Inasmuch as Sitrick, like Scientology, cannot guarantee any particular result, wealthy people facing serious accusations in the post Harvey Weinstein era need to ask themselves if premium-priced “crisis management” is a form of wishful thinking or denial. Indeed, can any crisis management firm head off the inevitable where criminality can be proven to exist?  The lesson to be learned here is ancient: Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

SITRICK AS THE FIXER

The title of Sitrick’s new book The Fixer: Secrets for Your Reputation in the Age of Viral Media is a self-admission of how Sitrick views himself: He is a fixer. The notorious private investigator Anthony Pellicano was formerly a part of this system of high-priced “fixers” until he was taken out by the Feds and sent to prison along with attorney Terry Christensen, another pricey Hollywood fixer.

A fixer is someone who makes very ugly problems go away. Typically, a fixer works in such a way that his client has complete deniability and knows nothing about how the very ugly problem was made to go away. Fixers like Mike Sitrick work to simply spin, distort, and try to create a different perception of their clients. Fixers and the particular sort of work they do are central to the Good Old Boy’s Network. However, Fixers are no match for great journalists who see right through their machinations.

RONAN FARROW

As Weinstein’s denials were issuing forth from Sitrick & Company, NBC Today Show contributor Ronan Farrow took notice of Harvey Weinstein and put together a blockbuster story. NBC execs, however, infamously passed on the story and urged Farrow to take it elsewhere. Farrow did just that; his subsequent articles in The New Yorker earned both himself and the magazine the 2018 Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service. Farrow is an attorney and a member of the New York bar. His skills as an attorney were evident in the way he investigated Weinstein.

Kara Swisher’s interview of Ronan Farrow on Recode Decode is outstanding. Parts of it sound like Farrow is talking about Scientology Fair Game when he describes the depredations of the wealthy and powerful:

Recode Decode says of Swisher’s interview with Ronan Farrow:

On the new podcast, Farrow explained how he convinced Weinstein’s victims to talk to him for the story; he credited his sister Dylan Farrow, ex-Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and Bill Cosby’s myriad accusers with proving that women could relive the trauma, come forward with their stories and be okay in the end.

“I think the world changed,” Farrow said. “There was a progression of brave women and also, of course, eventually men — I don’t want to discount the importance of male survivors of sexual violence and how much we need to hear their voices. But at the time, it was mostly women coming forward and chipping away at the culture of silence.”

He reiterated that the focus should be on these survivors and on the ways in which the justice system and the media failed them — not on predators like Weinstein. Many of the systems that preserved the status quo of silence are “still thriving,” he said.

While Ronan Farrow astutely saw the world changing as women came forward and chipped away at the Hollywood Culture of Silence that protected Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and other sexual predators, Mike Sitrick saw a chance to make a big payday spinning for Harvey Weinstein. However, nothing Sitrick did, or could have done, would have helped Harvey Weinstein.

TheWrap noted that Sitrick & Company stayed on helping Weinstein while others were dropping Weinstein in order to prevent further damage to their reputations for having represented him the first place:

Crisis public relations firm Sitrick and Company is no longer representing disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein, the company told TheWrap on Tuesday.

Weinstein has been accused of rape, sexual assault and harassment by nearly 90 women in in various cities around the world. The producer has consistently denied any nonconsensual sex through his former Sitrick spokesperson, retained shortly after articles containing early accusations were published in the New Yorker and the New York Times last October.

Sitrick has been a surprising holdover for the past five months as Weinstein watched several key crisis players bail as the accusations piled up and the national conversation became consumed by the #MeToo movement sparked by Weinstein’s alleged misconduct.

Sitrick held on for too long in defending Harvey Weinstein. So did Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom who was widely criticized for both taking on Weinstein as a client and attempting to minimize his conduct by saying that he was “an old dinosaur learning new ways.” Bloom admitted to BuzzFeed News that her representation of Harvey Weinstein was “a colossal mistake.”

Another loser who got a big black eye from the Harvey Weinstein story is NBC. Many predict that there is fallout still to come for the peacock network having killed Farrow’s story. Farrow will tell his side of the story when Little, Brown and Co., releases his upcoming book Catch and Kill. A press released said of Farrow’s book, “the project will address the “conspiracy of silence around Weinstein and other men in power.”

SITRICK IN 2018

Mike Sitrick is no match for Wikileaks, the Panama Papers, and crusading journalists like Ronan Farrow, and the courage of women speaking out against their abusers. In this day and age when the US Congress and federal agencies are setting up to take on Google and Facebook’s massive invasions of privacy and selling private data, Sitrick’s skills no longer seem formidable against the vast oceans of social media, high level leakers, and even network and cable news. Indeed, the high-speed downfall of Harvey Weinstein showed the powerlessness of Sitrick & Company to fend off the inevitable by the use of old school tricks.

Weinstein’s arrest makes the case that “crisis management” is quite different than “trying to counter horrendously bad PR for high profile sleazebags who have crossed the line into criminality.” It is one thing to for Johnson & Johnson to handle the nightmarish PR issues related to Tylenol tampering in 1982; it’s quite another for Sitrick & Company to issue blanket denials on behalf of Harvey Weinstein or work in the background for the Church of Scientology even as Scientology works to destroy former members, journalists, and critics who expose its depravity.

This leads us to ask: When does “crisis management” cross the line into complicity?

SCIENTOLOGY & FAIR GAME; MIKE SITRICK & THE WHEEL OF PAIN

Abby Aguirre’s recent New York Times story on Mike Sitrick and Harvey Weinstein offers an illuminating look at what Sitrick & Company did for the disgraced Hollywood mogul. Aguirre notes that in 1998 Sitrick coauthored a book with Allan Mayer. Entitled Spin: How to Turn the Power of the Press to Your Advantage, Aguirre comments on the book:

In Chapter 4, “News Media Abhor a Vacuum,” Mr. Sitrick lays out one of his key tenets: that strategic press representatives must engage the media; “no comment” should never be a first resort. “If you won’t talk to them, they’ll simply find someone else who will,” he and Mr. Mayer write, “which is to say, if you don’t tell your story, someone else will tell it for you.”

In a press release concerning Scientology TV, David Miscavige quoted Mike Sitrick verbatim when he said:

If you don’t write your own story, someone else will. So, yes, we’re now going to be writing our story, like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions.”

Miscavige’s verbatim quote of Sitrick suggests that Sitrick still has Scientology as a client. If so, Scientology and Sitrick appear to think alike in terms of Fair Game; Sitrick just phrases it differently. Example: In Sitrick’s new book The Fixer: Secrets for Saving Your Reputation in the Age of Viral Media he advises his clients to “Put Your Opponent in the Wheel of Pain.”

For Mike Sitrick to advise someone like Harvey Weinstein to put his opponents “in the wheel of pain” is beyond comprehension. Are we to take Sitrick’s admonition to mean that Weinstein’s victims were to be put in the wheel of pain by Sitrick & Company? Were Weinstein’s victims to be caused pain? While a clarification from Sitrick & Company on this point seems in order, Sitrick’s advice to cause your opponent pain shows the utter cynicism at Sitrick’s core: He is not afraid to hurt people in the defense of a client.

Attorney Lisa Bloom was also apparently not afraid to attack Weinstein’s accusers as Lloyd Grove’s story in The Daily Beast made clear:

Ronan Farrow was stunned and disgusted early this year when famed feminist lawyer Lisa Bloom phoned him, in the midst of his investigation for NBC News of widespread allegations of sexual misconduct against Harvey Weinstein, and offered to share opposition research on one of Weinstein’s accusers.

“I don’t know if you’ve talked to Rose McGowan, but we have files on her and her… history,” Bloom told Farrow, according to knowledgeable sources inside and outside NBC.

To what extent, if any, Bloom was coordinating with Sitrick remains a mystery. Nevertheless, the question remains: When does crisis management become complicity?

The efforts of Sitrick & Company and Lisa Bloom on behalf of their client Harvey Weinstein resemble Scientology’s practice of Fair Game in certain aspects. Grove’s story in the Daily Beast details just how ugly the Hollywood Good Old Boy’s network became when Harvey Weinstein learned that Ronan Farrow was writing a story about him. Weinstein called in all his markers in Hollywood and his very powerful allies tried to kill Farrow’s story. The Good Old Boys Network in Hollywood had much to lose if Weinstein went down. Worse, some of the Good Old Boys knew they too could be dragged down with Weinstein. It was time to circle the wagons.

FOCUS ON THE FIX

Mike Sitrick advises his clients to “focus on the fix.” Scientology TV is obviously Miscavige’s attempt to focus on the fix. We know that Scientology TV is Miscavige’s attempt to “normalize Scientology.” How Miscavige thinks this is possible is quizzical: One cannot normalize that which is inherently deviant. For instance, how does one “normalize” child labor in the Sea Org or exploiting Sea Org members by paying them .10 cents per hour while inflicting sleep deprivation on them? Sleep deprivation is classed as a form of torture by the United Stations. Defined as “the intentional infliction of physical and psychological pain” sleep deprivation as torture cannot be normalized.

Mike Sitrick calls for an organization in crisis to exercise a strategy in which “strategic press representatives must engage the media.” How has David Miscavige translated this advice into action?

David Miscavige has his OSA “press representatives” engage the media in two ways. First, in terms of responding to Leah’s Remini’s A&E show Scientology and the Aftermath, Miscavige has his people in OSA Legal engage the media and the public by issuing a series of angry and unconvincing written denials. From a legal perspective, A&E prudently airs these denials so as to foreclose any Scientology protest that it was not given a chance to respond.

Miscavige apparently feels that he is telling his story by compelling A&E to broadcast Scientology’s written denials. However, Scientology’s denials carry the same moral authority as Harvey Weinstein’s denials:

David Miscavige’s second response to his critics is to have OSA create hate websites on people Scientology deems Suppressive Persons. However, Scientology’s hate websites only serve as self-indicting evidence that Scientology is as malicious as former members, critics, journalists, and documentarians have stated after having been on the receiving end of Scientology’s Fair Game campaigns.

SCIENTOLOGY TV AS THE PROPAGANDA OF A COLLAPSING REGIME

David Miscavige is so delusional that he spent $100 million on Scientology TV in order to tell Scientology’s story so that other’s won’t. However, this is pure fantasy. The media, critics, and former members have been telling Scientology’s story for decades and will continue to do so. David Miscavige and his “crisis management experts” are powerless to stop any coverage of Scientology.

I once shooped Miscavige as Ceausescu in his final hours to depict Miscavige’s utter incomprehension of what is actually happening around him:


The incomprehension of the wealthy and powerful occurs because they have gotten their own way for so long and live in a bubble of sycophants, lawyers, fixers, private investigators, paid hoodlums, crisis management firms, and other enablers. When something truly disastrous besets them, the wealthy think they can buy their way out of it, silence it with various dire threats, or stop it by enforcing nondisclosure agreements that were signed in the past. Stormy Daniels and her attorney have made a mockery of the system of payoffs and nondisclosure agreements. Ronan Farrow has made a mockery of NBC’s alleged “concerns” of not having enough evidence to run a story. The Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, and the soon to be released Appleby Papers have ripped the veil off the offshore financial chicanery of monied elites. The 1% are powerful, but not that powerful. The 1% should take notice when even the governments of China and Russia fear the internet and the free flow of information.

SCIENTOLOGY SPIN

Scientology has often tried to spin the narrative in self-serving attempts to attack its most effective critics. Taryn Teutsch’s recent attempts to hijack the #MeToo movement for use in attacking her father Mike Rinder were exposed as fraudulent and reprehensible.

Likewise, Joy Villa’s attempts to portray herself as a Christian and Scientologist were unconvincing.

Rather than acknowledging the extremely serious and enormous problems with Scientology, David Miscavige has tried to spin the overwhelming public outrage against Scientology by tossing out the bogus and unconvincing tagline, “Curious? We thought so.”

Mr. Miscavige, the only thing people are curious about concerning Scientology is why the IRS has not revoked its tax exemption.

Scientology TV: David Miscavige’s $4 Million Dollar per hour Vanity Project

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We open our article with a graphic from Scientology TV:

STV.1

This graphic is taken from Scientology’s official website and informs us that Scientology TV launched with only 25 hours of original content (1500 minutes). This is hardly a number to brag about — particularly after Scientology leader David Miscavige spent about $100 million to purchase, equip, and launch Scientology Media Productions and Scientology TV.

David Miscavige purchased the old KCET studio in 2011, so we also must factor in the seven years of time he took to actually get his 25 hours of original Scientology TV content on air. Looked at from a business perspective, this is a terrible and inefficient use of time and money. Like the Ideal Orgs or the Super Power Building, Scientology TV is yet another money-grabbing and financially wasteful Miscavige vanity project which absolutely fails to address the real issues that are destroying the Church of Scientology from within and without.

The $100 million dollar number translates to $4 million dollars per hour for 25 hours of new content. This is an alarming cash burn figure for 25 hours of Scientology content that few people will ever watch or even notice. In terms of contrast, HBO’s Game of Thrones spent $15 million per hour for its final episodes, this according to a 2017 story in Variety penned by and The difference between Scientology TV and Game of Thrones is the return on investment. According to Forbes, 16.1 million people watched the first episode of Game of Thrones final season. Game of Thrones was crucial to HBO’s “$1.6 billion in revenue and $583 million in operating income during the first quarter of 2017” per the Forbes article.

While it is not realistic to expect something as mediocre as Scientology TV to compete with HBO’s smash hit Game of Thrones, it is realistic to expect David Miscavige to be a better financial steward of the donations made by Scientology’s parishioners. Miscavige’s profligate spend of $4 million per hour on content is excessive when we consider that Scientology TV is fundamentally propaganda that seeks to deflect attention away from the real issues of Scientology’s rapacious greed; its wanton exploitation of Sea Org members; the Cult’s use of child labor; and Scientology’s psycho-terrorist practices of Disconnection and Fair Game.

In their piece, Ryan and Littleton sum up the costs of contemporary television production:

At a moment when the television industry is grappling with a massive increase in the number of shows being produced, the ripple effects of Peak TV are surfacing in virtually every line item in a typical TV series budget.

Fueled by the rise of streaming heavyweights that don’t play by the same financial rules as traditional TV players, costs are soaring for everything from location scouting to renting equipment to securing post-production facilities…The estimates on the cost of content that emerged from these interviews peg the typical range of the production budget for high-end cable and streaming dramas at $5 million-$7 million an hour, while single-camera half hours on broadcast and cable run from $1.5 million to more than $3 million.

David Miscavige is spending big money like a Hollywood mogul. However, his spending will not result in the multibillion dollar annual earnings that successful Hollywood moguls deliver. Scientology TV will likely result in very little for the Church of Scientology except to mislead its parishioners into thinking that Scientology is growing and has surmounted decades of withering revelations about the corrupt and abusive practices of this “pay as you go” business that masquerades as a church.

Miscavige’s Scientology TV programming deliberately withholds Scientology’s space opera cosmology that is populated by Xenu, volcanoes, and body thetans. Scientology TV will also definitely never show the actual dollar costs of Scientology in which Scientologists must pay $500-$1000 per hour for auditing. At these prices, it is quite easy to spend $500,000 — or more — on your way up Scientology’s Bridge to OTVIII:

Scn.Price.List.6

This next Scientology graphic informs us that a Scientology Media Productions unit called “Central Ingest” receives 720 hours of raw footage everyday from Scientology shoot crews. This raw footage becomes Scientology TV:

STV.3

720 hours per day x 365 days in a year = 262,800 hours of raw footage that Central Ingest has to edit into original content to fill the 8,760 broadcast hours per year on Scientology TV’s 24/7/365 schedule. At $4 million an hour to create new content, Miscavige will be increasingly forced to cycle through the same content over and over simply to conserve cash.

Look at the bottom line: With a $4 million dollar per hour burn rate to create new Scientology TV content, 250 hours of content would cost one billion dollars. Scientology TV has the very real potential to bankrupt Scientology. Predictively, therefore, Miscavige will be forced to scale back his Scientology TV operation within a few months and reduce production costs to $50,000 per hour or less. I say this because, in its present form, Scientology TV is financially unsustainable.

Miscavige made his big initial investment in the Scientology Media Productions studio. However, this does not necessarily his mean his costs-per-hour of production time will go down. Television is an expensive business and Miscavige has had to bring in outside talent as the Sea Org simply cannot do professional television production on its own. Without professional outside help, the 262,800 hours of raw footage each year will quickly become a nightmarish backlog that has to be reviewed, scripted into a narrative, edited, and viewed for approval and release. Miscavige’s micromanaging style will also become a major bottleneck if he cannot delegate sufficient authority to release hundreds or thousands of hours of original content each year.

Scientology TV is all cost and no profit. Conversely, Scientology auditing is almost pure profit given Sea Org labor costs and the fact that all of Scientology Orgs are paid for. There are very little overhead costs for Scientology to deliver auditing. And of course IAS donations are pure profit as nothing is offered in return except cheap trophies.

Scientology TV’s initial performance has thus far targeted the safe low-hanging fruit, i.e. successful and non-controversial Scientologists: The banjo-making Deering’s; a skateboarder; a couple that makes custom lighting fixtures and chandeliers; and other innocuous people. Oddly, no Scientology celebrities have been featured. Conspicuously absent are Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Laura Prepon, etc. Even the Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss has been absent; this perhaps due to her less than charming behavior at the 2017 Emmy awards:

Elisabeth_Moss_Emmys

Once Scientology has picked the low hanging fruit then what? Will it show the gritty reality of bankrupt Scientologists such as Richie Acunto whose $10 million dollar IAS Scientology trophy ignominiously wound up for sale on eBay?

Will Scientology TV do an episode on how everyday Scientologists write Knowledge Reports on each other in the snitching culture of Scientology? Will Scientology TV show how female Sea Org members are not provided with feminine hygiene products and must pay for tampons and such from their earnings of .50 cents per hour or less? When will Scientology TV tell the real truth about what Scientology actually is and does?

Scientology TV very predictably went on the attack against Psychiatry and Psychiatric drugs. Anyone could see this was coming; likewise we also knew that the phony PR stories and fake heroics of Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers would be a part of the broadcast equation. Very predictably too were the stories of how The Way to Happiness saved Colombia.

Yet when will Scientology TV showcase Scientology’s notorious Office of Special Affairs where all of Scientology’s psycho-terrorist Fair Game operations are planned and managed? When do we get to see actual Scientology salespeople pressure Scientologists into going another $40,000 into debt to raise their IAS Patron status? When do we get to see a Scientologist solo auditing their body thetans for an hour or more everyday behind a locked door in their home?

The answer is that we will never see the cruel and miserable realities of everyday Scientology.

All that we will we will ever see on Scientology TV is Scientology PR; its attacks on Psychiatry; fake news from its phony front groups; and Nation of Islam members who have become practicing Scientologists. Scientology TV is nothing more than Cult TV.

In the final analysis, Scientology TV is David Miscavige’s $4 million dollar per hour vanity project meant to burnish his legacy within the insular confines of Scientology. The Scientology dictator made sure everyone knew Scientology TV was his baby when he shamelessly featured himself as the centerfold in a four-page wide photo-spread in the recent edition of International Scientology News:

The photo was taken at the LRH Birthday Event at which Miscavige announced Scientology TV. Miscavige can be seen behind his podium onstage at the center of the photo. He is surrounded by his adoring and euphoric throngs who can’t believe that Scientology finally has a TV channel a scant 71 years after DuMont, ABC, NBC, and CBS began broadcasting in the period 1947-1948.

America’s first big religious broadcaster was Bishop Fulton J. Sheen who began airing his show in 1951; this was the same year L. Ron Hubbard fled New Jersey for Wichita, Kansas after his first Dianetics Foundation went bankrupt and he was facing criminal charges in New Jersey for teaching medicine without a license. That Scientology is 70 years late in adopting television broadcasting is nothing new. Scientology spent tens of millions of dollars to build and open a 276,000-square-foot book-publishing factory in 2009 when paper books were racing into digital form on Kindle, tablets, and pads. Scientology’s Bridge Publications is still selling books and DVD’s in 2018. The Dianetics Kit sells for $75.00 and yet it points to a serious problem:

Scientology TV cannot broadcast anything contained in the Dianetics Kit or in any other products sold by Bridge Publications. To do so would cut into the revenues of Bridge. The hope of Scientology TV, therefore, is to get people to buy Scientology goods and services. And yet at $75.00 per Dianetics kit, Bridge Publications would have to sell 53,333 kits to offset the $4 million dollar cost of one hour of new content production by Scientology TV. This will never happen. Thus, one can begin to see the intractable problems created by David Miscavige’s extravagant and wasteful spending on Scientology TV. The man is truly fiddling while Rome burns.

Despite these glaring problems, the fawning prose describing the event when Scientology TV was announced to the faithful was downright embarrassing and helps to explain why Scientology is a Cult:

DM.STV.Praise.1 001

The schedule for Scientology TV this weekend from Friday, April 6, 2018 at 6:00 PM through Sunday, April 8, 2018 shows the highly repetitive programming that will quickly become the major pitfall of Scientology TV — this unless David Miscavige commits to huge burn rates of cash in the millions of dollars per hour to churn out new content. Seen from this perspective, the Ideal Orgs were a much better grade of failure for David Miscavige as they at least left Scientology owning real estate. In the case of Scientology TV there is no tangible return on the investment. Of course, Scientology claims that its TV channel will “boom” Scientology. However, the Cult says this same thing about all of its scammy cash-grabs: GAT I, GAT II, the Basics, Ideal Orgs, the Super Power Building, etc.

Below: This weekend’s Scientology TV schedule is shown on a PDF. The schedule repeats episodes on Scientologists Binod Sharma; James Speiser; a mother who became a media consultant; and The Way to Happiness. Sunday night features an L. Ron Hubbard marathon in which the Founder can be heard droning on at length in his various lectures. Does it get any more exciting than this?

Note: Hover your mouse over the PDF below to invoke the controls that allow you to page down through this three page document:

STV.Schedule

 

Scientology Television on YouTube: Statistics & Predictions

The Church of Scientology has launched its cable channel. It has done so by purchasing time on a 24/7/365 basis on channel 320 on Direct TV. However, for all intents and purposes Scientology Television appears to be depending upon being live-streamed on YouTube.

Thus, we can use existing YouTube statistics to predict Scientology Television’s potential for success on YouTube.

Our only caveat is that Scientology’s published numbers are notoriously unreliable and often completely false. For example, Scientology has variously claimed it has eight million members, twelve million members, or simply millions of members.

Absent any independent third party audit, we must take Scientology’s numbers to be both inflated and unverifiable. Moreover, Scientology’s STAND League on Twitter was caught using stock photos and claiming these were actual Scientologists. These fake “stock photo Scientologists” were exposed as such. Scientology has also been suspected of using click farms to boost ratings. With these factors in mind, we proceed with our analysis of Scientology’s performance on YouTube.

We begin with Scientology’s main YouTube channel. We learn there that this channel began on September 19, 2006 and claims 30,521,562 views as of March 14, 2018:

We note that Scientology refuses to disclose the number of subscribers to its channel. Drilling down, we use the YouTube feature that allows us to sort videos from the most popular to the least popular. Here are the ten most popular videos by rank on Scientology’s YouTube channel:

This data shows us that Scientology’s top ten videos have a total of 11,182,000 views. This is 36.6% of the total views claimed for the channel. Of note is Scientology’s 2018 Super Bowl ad with a claimed 2.9 million views. This means that one 2018 Super Bowl commercial accounts for 10% of all views since the channel opened in 2006.

What this tells us is that Scientology spent millions of dollars on a one-time Super Bowl ad in early 2018 to gain 10% of its total YouTube traffic since 2006. This does not bode well for Scientology Television as the channel is not tied to advertising on high profile televised network events such as the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Academy Awards, or major television franchises like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or The Big Bang Theory.

Once we deduct the numbers for Scientology’s top ten YouTube videos, we are left with 19,339,562 views since the channel began 135 months ago in September 2006. Less the top ten videos, then, Scientology YouTube has averaged a paltry 143,256 views per month since its inception.

Scientology’s ten lowest ranking YouTube videos produced a pathetic 143,000 views; four of these videos were “The Way to Happiness” themed:

By way of contrast, the top 20 Scientology channels and videos on YouTube that are not favorable to Scientology have a total 72,850,000 views:

Name YT Channel Name Total Views in millions
Tom Cruise  – Leaked Go to Guns Video Aleteuk 12.3
Karen de la Carriere Surviving Scientology Channel 7.4
Mark Bunker Xenu TV Channel 7.1
Some crazy scientology stuff hashmanis 5.7
Message to Scientology Anonymous 5.3
Tom Cruise’s Heated Interview With Matt Lauer Today 5.3
Angry Gay Pope Angry Gay Pope Channel 5
Tory Christman ToryMagoo44! 4
Chris Shelton Critical Thinker at Large Channel 3.6
Joe Rogan Interviews Leah Remini Joe Rogan Experience 2.3
Scientology in 100 Seconds AllHailXenuFilm 2
Steven Mango Steven Mango Channel 1.78
Chelsea – Netflix Leah Remini Explains Scientology’s Scam 1.67
The Master: How Scientology Works Nerdwriter1 1.6
Aaron Smith-Levin Growing Up in Scientology Channel 1.5
Leah Remini on the Cult of Scientology Real Time with Bill Maher 1.3
Joe Rogan Interviews Ron Miscavige Joe Rogan Experience 1.3
Scientology – Louis Theroux Joe Rogan Experience 1.3
Matthew Santoro 10 Insane Facts About Scientology 1.3
Shocking Facts About Scientology TheRichest 1.1
Total Views 72.85

The conclusion here is that a highly active group of former Scientologists, critics, and media outlets can easily outpace the three billion dollar Scientology Cult on social media without multi-million dollar Super Bowl ads; 24/7/365 live streaming on YouTube; or spending $4 million dollars per year on carriage fees on Direct TV as Lloyd Grove stated in his recent Daily Beast article David Miscavige Comes Out of the Shadows on the First Night of Scientology’s TV Network. Further, we are restricting our analysis in this article to YouTube; we do not take into account books, movies, and televisions shows. Hence, Going Clear, the book and the film, Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath, CNN’s A History of Violence, the Tampa Bay Times’ The Truth Rundown, Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker and the other leading exposes of Scientology are not factored into our discussion at hand.

In terms of strategy and content, the playlists on Scientology’s YouTube channel suggest that  we can expect to see more of the same content from Scientology Television:

Based on the foregoing, my prediction is that this will be the exact content we can expect to see repeated endlessly on Scientology Television:

  1. Ideal Org grand openings
  2. Volunteer Ministers
  3. Meet a Scientologist videos
  4. A focus on Latin America
  5. Scientologists making a difference in their communities videos
  6. CCHR anti-drug and anti-psychiatry videos
  7. Pseudo-ecumenical efforts using the usual Scientology shills, e.g. Dr. J. Gordon Melton
  8. Speeches at Ideal Org grand openings by low-ranking functionaries, for example Captain John Galindo, Operations Director National Circle of Aid Technicians of Colombia

What stood out to me in my review of Scientology’s YouTube website for this article is that Scientologist skateboarder Aaron has the largest number of views for an individual Scientologist. With 809,524 views, this  young man’s ratings far and away eclipse the ratings for any video featuring Scientology leader David Miscavige. VWD Aaron!

The least popular Scientologist in the “Meet a Scientologist” series of videos appears to be Omar, an expeditionary pilot. Poor Omar has only 1,010 views since his video was released on October 28, 2010:

Bottom Line: My prediction is that Scientology Television will follow the same trajectory as an Ideal Org – which is to say that it will have a shelf life of three weeks and then it will die on the vine.

With an Ideal Org there is excitement the week before the grand opening and David Miscavige’s rope pull. Then there is excitement the two weeks after the grand opening. Thereafter, it is business as usual with the demands for stats, more money, and to get bodies into the shop. Apathy sets in and soon the glory of the grand opening gives way to the punishing and cruel grind of everyday life in Scientology.

The initial burst of interest in Scientology Television will quickly collapse once people see that it is a 24/7/365 cycling of the same content ad nauseum. L. Ron Hubbard’s pedantic lectures and Scientology hyperbole wears thin very quickly; particularly when Netflix beckons.

STAND League: Scientology’s Latest Hypocrisy

Scientology is rightly and widely criticized for its barbaric practices of Disconnection; character assassination; spying on people; the use of child labor; and many other incredibly inhumane practices. Rather than acknowledging these things and implementing reforms, Scientology ignores it all in favor of using a standard old ploy. This old ploy is for Scientologists to feign righteous indignation and claim religious persecution. Scientology will not change its brutal and lying ways and so it screams that it is the victim of bigotry.

Scientology’s latest tax-exempt scam is STAND, an acronym meaning “Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination.” STAND is presently waging a campaign on social media. STAND is largely a reaction to the enormous success of Leah Remini’s show Scientology And The Aftermath.

As part of STAND’s attack it is attempting to shame the sponsors of Leah’s show. This is quite hypocritical coming from a cult that has no shame and once conned a brain-damaged man out of his life savings. See: BRAINED-Raul-Lopez-Scientology-Story

As a part of STAND’s efforts, Walgreens, GMC, Little Caesars, Carl’s Jr., Bud Light, Geico and other companies are being singled out on STAND’s bizarre website. STAND is also insisting that everyone should sign Scientology’s ridiculously self-serving Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief.

This charter has Scientology pontificating to the media and demanding censorship:

A responsible media avoids discriminatory or denigrating references to religious beliefs and spiritual values…

A responsible media refrains from reinterpreting, misinterpreting, analyzing, assessing or examining religious beliefs or the expression of these beliefs. Instead, it maintains a strict duty of neutrality and objectivity—accepting what the religion puts forward as its true beliefs without disapproval, contempt, condescension, bias or ridicule.

The Church of Scientology wants to hold the media to the same standard as the US Government:

Clause

Scientology is so addicted to the crack cocaine of First Amendment religious protections that it actually thinks the secular for-profit media has an obligation to refrain from commenting on religious matters. Scientology actually expects the media to take religious pronouncements at face value. This is absurd. If the media did not challenge the statements and claims of all religions then priests could rape children with impunity; televangelists could endlessly swindle poor people with promises of prosperity; and Scientology could continue to con brain-damaged people out of their life savings. In a free society, the media can and must challenge the status quo, corruption, the powerful, and everything else.

Furthermore, Scientology will not publicly own up to its Xenu cosmology and therefore demands that the media refrain from ever mentioning this matter. Scientology seriously expects the media to remain silent, or at least neutral, on the matter of Xenu. This is both silly and unrealistic. The job of a free press is to analyze, dissect, expose, discuss, and even lampoon people, institutions, and belief systems. And yet the Church of Scientology is so deluded that it actually thinks it should get a free pass by screaming that it is a victim — and this even as it continues to destroy people spiritually and financially, break up families, and disgracefully treat its Sea Org members as chattel.

A recent tweet linked to a STAND article that attempted to shame the insurance company Geico for sponsoring Leah Remini’s show. It seems that some Scientologists are calling for a cancellation of Geico policies currently held by Scientologists. This tweet is unintentionally funny as it shows very little commitment:

The problems with Scientology boycotting or “naming and shaming” Geico are enormous:

1. Geico is a division of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, a company whose 2016 revenue was $223.6 billion USD. A more meaningful protest by STAND would require the naming and shaming of Geico parent Berkshire Hathaway and the many companies it owns or holds a significant interest in. These companies include American Airlines, American Express, Apple,  Charter Communications, UPS, IBM, Coca-Cola, MasterCard, Johnson & Johnson, Visa, Costco, Wal-Mart, Duracell, Verizon, Wells Fargo — and just keep going. The list is very long.

2. Scientology’s salespeople, its so-called regges, are helping to enrich Berkshire Hathaway each and every time a Scientologist pays for Scientology’s goods and services with a MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or a Wells Fargo credit card. Likewise, credit cards offered by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Costco, Bank of New York Mellon, Goldman Sachs, and US Bancorp also help to enrich Berkshire Hathaway. Why isn’t STAND calling for a boycott of these credit card companies? Is boycotting credit card companies hitting too close to home for the money-obsessed Church of Scientology? The answer is a definite yes. Scientology management would likely argue, “by all means cancel your Geico policy as a gesture, but leave AMEX and the rest of the credit card companies the hell alone!”

3. Geico is the second largest auto insurer in the USA and insures over 24,000,000 vehicles. Scientology has perhaps 20,000 – 25,000 members. Therefore, even if all Scientologists were insured by Geico and cancelled, this would only represent 1/10th of 1% of the vehicles insured by Geico. This number is statistically insignificant. Geico’s own website shows 2016 “admitted assets” of $ 27,197,917,293 USD. The incredible shrinking cult of Scientology lacks the power to financially harm anyone except its own members.

4. Leah Remini’s show is available on television, the internet, and all digital devices that can stream television programs. If STAND wanted to boycott all platforms capable of streaming Leah’s show, then STAND would logically name and shame Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle, Adobe, and every other software company and hardware manufacturer whose products contribute to the broadcast of Leah’s show.

5. In order to punish all guilty parties that contribute to Leah’s show, STAND would need to call for a comprehensive boycott of the vast integrated electrical grid and communications network that underlies television, the internet, and mobile devices. This sprawling global network includes hydroelectric power plants; satellites; cell towers; microwave towers; and millions of miles of fiber optic cable and electrical wiring. In the US alone, internet server farms operate more than 100 million hard drives that contain in excess of 350 million terabytes of data.

The Church of Scientology’s STAND group does not seem to comprehend the enormous technical, communications, and financial infrastructure in which Leah Remini’s show Scientology: The Aftermath exists. STAND cannot boycott or shame this infrastructure in any meaningful way whatsoever.

The reason that virtually all this enormous electrical, industrial, technical, and communications, infrastructure exists is capitalist in nature. This infrastructure generates tens of trillions of dollars each year. Commercial broadcasting exists to make money. The Constitutional basis of commercial broadcasting in America is the First Amendment right of free speech. Leah Remini is engaging in free speech in order to expose the depredations of the Church of Scientology. Leah’s show is a hit and it is making money. That is how commercial broadcasting works in a capitalist society: Any company or individual can use broadcasting to engage in social justice; in raising public awareness of issues; or to expose crime and fraud — and they can make money doing it.
That is how the system works. The CBS show 60 Minutes first aired on September 24, 1968 and has made CBS a great deal of money by specializing in exposing scams and frauds.

Likewise, Scientology has made a fortune peddling its wares. What does Scientology have to complain about? It has profited enormously from its First Amendment protections and yet hates it when others enjoy the same protections and are able to make money. Scientology uses its hate websites to attack Psychiatry, SP’s, 1.1’s, the media, and a litany of other people and groups it hates and yet it hypocritically demands that it not be exposed for what it is by the media. The Scientology Cult can dish it out but can’t take it.

While STAND certainly has every right to name and shame and to boycott those companies that advertise on Leah’s show, STAND is nevertheless missing the point. Scientology leader David Miscavige poured somewhere around $100 million dollars of Scientologists’ donations into Scientology Media Productions and yet SMP has not broadcast a single television program since its grand opening on May 28, 2016.

Why isn’t SMP broadcasting STAND’s message across the world of cable television? Why isn’t Scientology buying time on television networks with its enormous wealth to get out STAND’s message? Why is STAND reduced to a mediocre website and a Twitter campaign? Sounds like David “McScrooge” Miscavige is too tightfisted to really care.

SMP is a world-class studio that apparently does nothing. Rather, we see STAND impotently flailing away on Twitter where it is literally tilting against windmills and a cartoon lizard:


L. Ron Hubbard placed a high personal value on creation and the value of artists. Scientology Media Productions has Hollywood-level professional production capabilities. Scientology has television and movie stars as members. Despite these assets, STAND’s solution is to name and shame Geico and other companies while SMP remains silent and empty. This is failure writ large in the Scientology universe.

Scientology Media Productions empty studios mirrors Scientology’s empty Ideal Orgs

Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, and Scientology

leah-remini1

Leah Remini

The second episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath aired this evening on A&E. This episode featured Scientology’s former international spokesman Mike Rinder and his wife Christie Collbran.

This episode exposed the sadistic ways in which the Church of Scientology — using tax exempt dollars — stalked, harassed, spied on, and Fair Gamed Mike and Christie. It was shocking to watch. The Church of Scientology is always worse than you think; it really is a malicious organization whose 501(c)3 tax exemption needs to be revoked for cause by the IRS.

To say that tonight’s episode was powerful is an understatement. Leah’s show is tremendous television that reaches deeply and existentially into the Scientology experience and its aftermath.


Mike Rinder has always been very generous in sharing his time and wisdom with the media, critics, and especially those people who have left Scientology. Mike’s blog Something Can Be Done About It is a widely read blog that covers the many things that are going on inside the rapidly collapsing Church of Scientology.

mike-rinder

Mike Rinder

Mike Rinder granted me the first interview I did when I began my Surviving Scientology Radio podcast series. Thanks to Mike Rinder and other former Sea Org members who have so generously, and sometimes so very painfully, shared their experiences of Scientology, my podcast now has more than two million listens across YouTube, iTunes, and my dot.com Surviving Scientology Radio.

Because of the dozens of aggregators who have taken the podcasts that my guests and I have released into the public domain at no cost, I don’t know how many listens the show actually has. What my guests and I care about is that the truth about Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, and David Miscavige is carried far and wide across the planet.

I have interviewed Mike Rinder several times on my podcast as I value his singular insights. One tradition my podcast has is to interview Mike Rinder at the New Year. In these shows, Mike looks back at Scientology the previous year and offers his predictions on what Scientology will face in the New Year. Mike’s predictions have been spot on.

Mike Rinder’s 2015 New Year’s Eve podcast is a classic and well worth a listen to get a sense of just how incredibly perceptive Mike Rinder is as a strategic thinker and analyst. Thanks for everything you do Mike.

Scientology Media Productions: Panhandling on the Streets of Hollywood!

757

Imagine telling the entire world you are purchasing an ultra-luxury state-of-the-art $100,000,000 private 757 business jet. As the interior of your jet is designed and built with the most opulent of appointments, you boast to the entire world and show off the spacious interior:

24bb09d700000578-0-image-a-5_1421352928450

The big day arrives as your magnificent $100,000,000 private jet is rolled out of the hangar to great applause and fanfare. However, there is only one problem: You have no money for jet fuel, pilots and crew, ramp fees, landing fees, maintenance, or any other operating costs. In other words, you are so broke that you can’t actually fly your new plane unless people donate money to you for operating expenses. And so your shiny new jet remains parked on the tarmac like a giant useless paperweight.

This, apparently, is exactly what has happened with the recently opened Scientology Media Productions (SMP) facility in Hollywood. As reported by Mike Rinder, the Church of Scientology is now claiming that it needs to raise money in order to fund productions at its $100,000,000 studio. SMP is all set to fly but, alas, has no gas money. Hence, the “Panhandling on the Streets of Hollywood” begging letter from SMP posted by Mike Rinder:

screenshot-1072

Of course, this is all nonsense and is simply more Scientology greed at work. Scientology has plenty of money to fund SMP operating expenses. The IAS could write a big fat check from its billion dollar plus cash reserves and be done with it. After all, the IAS slush fund exists, it is claimed, to advance the aims and purposes of the Scientology religion, right? Seriously, though, Scientology will never fund anything when it can take in “new money” from credulous status-happy Scientologists and hang onto its “old money.”

As Mike Rinder has pointed out many times, the Church of Scientology already has a giant state of the art television, film, and music production facility at its Gold Base in San Jacinto, California that does not operate at anywhere near capacity. It’s not like Scientology actually needs a second underutilized production facility.


Variation on a Scam: The SMP fundraising scam reminds me of the old Super Power building scam. David Miscavige gave endless excuses for years as to why he couldn’t open the Super Power Building. One of Miscavige’s lamest excuses came in 2010 when he said he needed  “1,000 more” Scientologists to join the Sea Org before he could open  the Super Power building — and this is really no different than Miscavige saying Scientology Media Productions needs operating funds before it can produce content:

Super.Power.1000

David Miscavige’s next excuse was that he needed the “Final 300” Sea Org members before he could open Super Power:

SP.300

Having failed to get all of the “Final 300” Sea Org members, David Miscavige was down to needing 110 new Sea Org members:

SP.110

There are always excuses in Scientology for why the planet cannot cleared, buildings cannot be opened, or content cannot be produced in a new $100,000,000 studio. The usual excuses are that more more money has to be raised; more Sea Org members are needed; there has to 10,000 on Solo NOTs; all Orgs must be St. Hill size; all Orgs must be Ideal, etc. It really doesn’t matter so long as an excuse is provided.

I don’t know if Flag ever recruited the 1,000 Sea Org members. What I do know is that the Super Power building remained the most profitable empty building in the world from 1998 until it opened on November 17, 2013. As Ashley Collman of the Daily Mail wrote at the time:

The group broke ground on the Mediterranean Revival-style  building in 1998, but stopped work after finishing the shell.

For three years, the group ceased construction on the project until the city started imposing $250-a-day fines for code violations.

Scientology defectors have explained that the building’s slow construction is due to church leader’s who have allegedly used the project as a fundraising cash cow.

An analysis by the Tampa Bay Times discovered that the church had raised $145million for the building, much higher than the $100million it was estimated to cost.

Who knows? David Miscavige and Scientology may need to postpone production at Scientology Media Productions indefinitely until more money is raised, more Sea Org members are recruited, or until the Commodore returns from Target 2.


To whimsically add to our excursion through one of Scientology’s Scams of the Past, former Sea Org member Aaron Saxton made a very humorous and prescient comment on ESMB during the 2010 “1,000 Sea Org are needed for Super Power!” campaign:

It just occured to me that this statement by DM [that 1,000 Sea Org members are needed for Super Power] will be sending the jitters through the SO, especially within Los Angeles.

They know they will not have a hope in hell of getting this many recruits.

So what they will do is start doing “utilization” surveys on SO members around the world. They will give CMO quotas in each continent to find people “under utilized” and send them to Flag.

Following this they will empty out their RPF’s to get crew to the FSO to get the numbers up.

A similar incident happened in 1995 when DM went nutty at the FSO and we ended up sending over 150 missionaires to FLB.

None of them bar a very select few, ever made it back. They all ended up getting posted down there.

I can see DM doing a similar thing.

It is apparent that DM is going to keep command teams in the continental liaison offices to run things directly as I think DM can see the end of IMO/HGB middle management on the horizon.

Why run things on a via when he thinks he is so great at running it directly?

1000 recruits…LOL, I would pay a dollar to see that!

Hey, should I send in my billion year contract? Perhaps they will re-hire me? I soooo want to be part of the biggest failure in Scn history. Please please please!


In related news, Scientology fundraising in now under way for the L. Ron Hubbard Hall and park in Clearwater, Florida. As gushing Scientology coverage of the recent LRH birthday celebration enthused:

There was also the momentous announcement of the future L. Ron Hubbard Hall in Clearwater, a magnificent auditorium designed to seat thousands with convention and banquet conversion capability, complemented by a beautifully-appointed L. Ron Hubbard Park.

Scientology likes to brag about its accomplishments. I have to give Scientology credit for this: It has amassed the world’s largest irrelevant and non-performing real estate portfolio ever and continues to do. We have the IRS to thank for giving this deviant and real-estate-obsessed group its wholly unmerited tax exemption.