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ABC Features 4-Minute Dianetics Infomercial To Illustrate EEOC Lawsuit Involving Scientology (And Now It’s Down!)

Will you be inspired?

Will you be inspired?

[After our commenters showed up at the ABC site in force, the network has now taken down the video!]

Last Thursday, we told you about an interesting new federal lawsuit against a Miami chiropractor who allegedly forced his employees to take Scientology courses. Since then, other news organizations have pointed out the fun parts of the really remarkable press release that the EEOC put together…

“According to the EEOC’s suit, the company required…employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving.”

Now, when the government puts out a statement like that, and there are court documents to back it up, news organizations can have a field day and report this stuff without fear of retribution from the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology.

But ABC, the network that is afraid of its own shadow, was apparently sweating bullets when it reported this story today.

Advertisement

If you go to its online piece about the lawsuit — a very straightforward article with some nice quotes from Dynamic Medical Services (the firm being sued) and from the EEOC — you’ll see that the most prominent element on the page is a video. (Wait a moment for the “play” button to appear on the main photo.) Click to start that video and what do you get?

A four-minute infomercial about Dianetics from the Church of Scientology. (In fact, you’ll probably have to sit through a 15-second Cialis or Chase ad first.)

[At a little before 3 pm, about 3 hours after we posted this story and our commenters began showing up at the site in numbers, ABC appears to have taken down the infomercial.]

Pro tip: Wait for the "play" symbol to appear over the main photo

Pro tip: Wait for the “play” symbol to appear over the main photo

Four minutes of blather about how Dianetics will change your life, and not a moment of it has anything to do with the EEOC lawsuit against the Miami chiropractor. (The ad does not refer at all to the actual Scientology processes — like hours-long staring contests or yelling at ashtrays — that are referenced in the lawsuit.)

In other words, Scientology just got a massive national ad placement without spending a dime, which is probably what ABC had in mind as it hopes, with its fingers crossed, that the church doesn’t sue it for daring to report a story that is based on a government lawsuit.

In the past, we’ve reported that ABC news producers recorded many hours of interviews with people like Marc and Claire Headley in the wake of the Tom Cruise divorce last summer, and were hoping to put together a full episode of 20/20 about the church. But we were told by multiple sources that as much as the reporters and producers wanted to jump on subjects like celebrities in the church, the schisms tearing apart the church, the fate of children in Scientology, and the rise of David Miscavige, time and again the network’s attorneys have spiked anything the news division has produced.

An interview with Vanity Fair writer Maureen Orth, scheduled for an episode of 20/20 was killed the day before it was supposed to air last fall, for example.

Well, maybe the attorneys caved this time because ABC is giving up such a valuable ad placement. Can we get some guesses from our knowledgeable commenting community about what it would normally cost Scientology to have a four-minute ad on ABC’s website?

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on May 14, 2013 at 12:00

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