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Release the hounds! Scientology suddenly getting more aggressive with media: Report

MrBurns

 
On this Christmas Eve, we wanted to tell you about an interesting exchange we had recently with a fellow reporter.

This is someone who writes about Scientology on occasion, and for several different outlets. But recently, he tells us, things have changed. Scientology is suddenly getting very aggressive with the places he normally places stories with.

The negative press for Scientology this year has been relentless, and we’re seeing media giants that once were cowed by Scientology’s legal tactics now openly mocking the organization. Has David Miscavige suddenly had enough of it?

Our friend says that this is a definite change that just happened a few weeks ago.

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“The last piece I did, three sets of Scientology lawyers sent more than 100 pages of horseshit. It was so time consuming for the editors,” he told us. And now, the publications are turning down his pitches.

Is another chilling effect on the way? From 1991 to 2005, the American media was very reluctant to write about Scientology after a TIME magazine cover story resulted in a $416 million lawsuit by the church. Does Miscavige miss those days of frightening off editors with the barking of well-paid lawyers?

Let’s keep an eye out for original reporting about Scientology and see if we can tell whether the media is suddenly more shy if, in fact, Scientology has a new strategy.

 
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Scientology’s 2015 in review: April

SNL32

 
We’re continuing our look back at the highlights of our Scientology coverage this year, and this time we’re looking at what happened in April, which started off with a new class action lawsuit in California against Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. And attorney David Miller of Indiana told us to expect more in the future.

A few days later, SNL knocked us out with the best parody of Scientology we’ve seen perhaps ever. The “Neurotology” skit really rocked, and was clearly inspired by the popularity of Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear. We were told by an SNL rep that the writers really appreciated our detailed breakdown of what we saw in it.

On April 8, we noted a sad milestone. The death of Geoffrey Lewis, a consummate character actor, OT 5 Scientologist, and father to actress Juliette Lewis.

That same day, we reacted to a bombshell. The Los Angeles Times reported that in 2013, two private investigators had been arrested on weapons charges in Wisconsin. Facing ten years in prison over possession of a homemade silencer, they sang like canaries. They said that they were being paid $10,000 a week to stalk Ron Miscavige Sr., father to Scientology leader David Miscavige, who had escaped from the organization’s International Base near Hemet in 2012. At one point, when the PIs were afraid that Ron was dying of a heart attack and asked what to do about it, they claim that Miscavige told them, in a telephone call, “If he dies, he dies,” instructing them to do nothing. Later in the month, we posted the full audiotapes of the police interviews of the two private investigators. It’s great stuff.

On April 12, we filled in some key Scientology history with the help of Marty Rathbun. It was Rathbun who, in Going Clear, made the allegation that Scientology had actively broken up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and had even had Nicole’s phone line tapped to help convince Cruise to break up with her. Lawrence Wright and others had said that Scientology had also been active in the split between Cruise and his first wife, actress Mimi Rogers. But Wright provided little detail. With Rathbun’s help, as well as sources close to Mimi Rogers, we put together a full telling of how David Miscavige was manipulating Cruise to wreck his first marriage. Even if you’re averse to the celebrity Scientology stuff, we think you’ll still enjoy this story for the picture it provides of how Miscavige orchestrates the lives of his followers.

And April had one more surprise. We received yet another remarkable audiotape supplied to us by a source. In this case, it was a briefing held at a Scientology org by a Sea Org officer named Andres Rodriguez, the Senior Case Supervisor for the Western US and former husband to Jessica Feshbach, formerly the “handler” for Katie Holmes. We asked former Sea Org executive Chris Shelton to help unravel what Rodriguez was saying about the current state of Scientology. In five parts, Rodriguez laid out what he expected of today’s Scientologists that shocked many of the oldtimers in our audience. The emphasis on repetitive, low-level courses, and for hundreds of hours at a time, had serious potential for harm, Shelton told us. Rodriguez, part one, two, three, four, and five.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2014: We checked with his tailor to find out David Miscavige’s actual height. Tax documents spelled out Scientology’s amazing cash value. We told the saga of Aaron Smith-Levin and his family. And an insider provided us documents showing that Narconon Arrowhead is running on fumes.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2013: Live-blogging Rock Center, “Love in the Time of Miscavige,” and Narconon in Georgia raided.

 
BEST OF 2015: Our personal picks for stories we’re most glad we got to write this year:

January: Being on the scene to write about the Going Clear Sundance premiere
February: A shocking tale of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill in Tennessee and Arkansas
March: Sylvia DeWall is declared and faces the loss of her family, and we get to hear it on audio
April: We dig up the true story of Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers

 
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Chris Shelton on Scientology holidays

 
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BOOK NOTES
3D-Unbreakable

We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 24, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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