Sure enough, it’s true. The church’s website which lists its official spokespersons is now bereft of Davis and his wife, Jessica Feshbach. The two people who were behind them, Karin Pouw and Bob Adams, have been moved to the top tier. Pouw is now listed as the “international spokesperson.”
After the jump, we’ll show you the before and after images of the church’s official page, and we’ll try to come to grips with this stunning news.
First, let’s look at the evidence. Here’s a screen grab of the Scientology media relations web page circa 2011, which we snagged from the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive…
And here’s how the same portion of the web page looks today…
It doesn’t really get more official than that as far as the Church of Scientology goes. So we can now say with confidence what we’ve known for more than a year, that Tommy Davis has gone from perhaps the most well-known Scientology mouthpiece of all time to a non-person in the eyes of the church.
Davis, 40, is the son of actress Anne Archer and her first husband, real estate investor William Davis. Actor Jason Beghe told us that when he was first active in the church, Davis was just a teenager, and he took a shine to Tommy and they became friends. Beghe described him has infectiously fun, and a great kid to be around.
By the time the world got to know him, however, Davis was the pushy church operative bedeviling BBC journalist John Sweeney in his 2007 documentary, Scientology and Me. While Sweeney tangled with Davis and another church executive, Mike Rinder, they were filming Sweeney for their own purposes. At one point, Sweeney lost his cool and blew up at Davis in an epic explosion. Scientology put the footage on YouTube, and the BBC was forced to investigate the behavior of its reporter. But Sweeney had footage of his own, of Davis losing his cool as well.
After Sweeney’s documentary, Davis also gained fame for telling CNN’s John Roberts in 2008 that Scientology’s toxic “disconnection” policy didn’t exist (it does) and for walking out of an interview with ABC’s Martin Bashir. In a less-seen but very important 2009 interview, Davis also admitted to a local California TV journalist, Nathan Baca, that L. Ron Hubbard’s handwritten “OT III” materials were, indeed, church scripture.
Some ex-Scientologists tell us they think this may have been Davis’s crucial blunder.
That same year, 2009, Davis was secretly recorded threatening a young church member that he’d be disconnected from his family if he didn’t quit his job working for ex-Scientologist Marc Headley. We put together a story about that recording at the Village Voice and published it in August 2011.
By then, Davis was rarely appearing in news stories, and we began to wonder if he still had his job.
In July 2011, a story in the Hollywood Reporter contained a quote from Davis — we contacted the reporter, Daniel Miller, and he told us he’d only heard from Davis through e-mail and telephone, and that it was months before.
Then, in late 2011, we started to hear a reason why Davis might be out of action: his wife, Jessica Feshbach, was rumored to be very ill.
Jessica comes from a family that is somewhat legendary in Scientology. Her father, Joseph, was one of three brothers who became notorious for being “short-sellers” in the 1980s, rolling up fortunes for their investors. The brothers in turn donated huge sums to Scientology, and because of it were treated like church royalty. Former Sea Org member Chuck Beatty, for example, has told us about an early 1990s effort to give the Feshbach brothers the first run-throughs of the “Super Power” process that the rest of Scientology is still waiting to experience.
Jessica gained notoriety of her own as she was assigned to be Katie Holmes’s Sea Org handler after the actress paired up with Tom Cruise. Wherever Katie went, Jessica (then known as Jessica Rodriguez) seemed to be right on her elbow, and even sometimes answered questions for Katie in interviews with journalists. But then Jessica disappeared from public view, and we heard that she was ill. We’ve wondered in the past if Katie was able to make her escape from her marriage with Cruise and her involvement in Scientology in part because she no longer had Jessica keeping an eye on her.
And Tommy, meanwhile, was nowhere to be seen. Was he no longer appearing in public because he was taking care of his wife? Or had he, like so many other church executives, fallen out of favor with the notoriously fickle leader of Scientology, David Miscavige?
Sadly, Jessica’s father Joseph Feshbach collapsed and died during a bicycle ride in August 2011. Online records show that Joe Feshbach owned a condominium in Austin, Texas, and several months ago we started hearing that Tommy and Jessica may have moved there. (Yes, yet another big-name former Scientologist who has moved to the Lone Star State, which Miscavige appears to want nothing to do with.)
In his new book, former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun writes that Tommy has left the Sea Org, but has signed a non-disclosure agreement so that he won’t be speaking out about the church. We hear that at least one journalist has knocked on Tommy’s door, but the former spokesman didn’t want to talk.
Davis may be out of a job and generally on the down-low, but that doesn’t mean he’s in a tough spot. In her 2006 Rolling Stone article that she later turned into her excellent 2011 book, Inside Scientology, Janet Reitman quoted Tommy Davis saying that he was so wealthy because of his parents, he didn’t have to work a day in his life.
We asked a person who worked closely with Tommy to give us some thoughts about him. Mike Rinder, who left the church in 2007 after running the church’s media and legal affairs division for many years, sent us this…
Probably the most accurate thing I can say about Tommy is that he was a faithful sockpuppet for Miscavige. If Miscavige told him to act like a nutjob with the media, he did it. If he told him he should storm out of an interview with Martin Bashir, he did it. If he said he should insult the St. Pete Times reporters to their faces, he did it. He was a reflection of the madness of Miscavige and his idea of how to “control public opinion.”
Tommy is independently wealthy from his father. Jessica also comes from a wealthy family. They will probably while away their days on trips to Europe and cruises. I doubt they will need to work ever. And they aren’t about to give up that comfortable lifestyle in order to take a stand for what is right. They are already being scapegoated by Miscavige. Like everyone who has preceded them, they are now “why” things were handled badly….
We’re looking forward to reading your thoughts about Tommy: what are your favorite memories of his tenure as Scientology’s mouthpiece?
And Tommy, we’d love to hear how you’re doing, and we hope Jessica is feeling better. Drop us a line some time.