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Viewers react to Tampa NBC affiliate saying Scientology is sponsoring Winter Olympics

Last night, television viewers in the Tampa area began reacting on Facebook and Twitter after they saw promos aired on NBC’s local affiliate, WFLA Channel 8, that the Church of Scientology will be sponsoring its Winter Olympics broadcasts, which begin next week.

An example on Facebook…



And Twitter…


We made several calls to WFLA last night, trying to get a statement from the station. We were told we needed to speak with general manager Skip Valet, and we left a voicemail for him. We did get last night’s newsroom manager, Sean Flanagan, on the phone, and he took our number and said he’d get back to us. Two other WFLA employees we managed to get on the phone told us they couldn’t answer our question.

If someone at WFLA decided to partner with Scientology for the Olympics coverage, they’re probably taking a pretty big risk.

We’re thinking back to the debacle Atlantic magazine experienced, for example, when it signed up for some cozy coverage with Scientology in 2013. The Atlantic took advertising from the church that looked like editorial content and contained glowing material about Scientology leader David Miscavige. It caused a huge backlash that literally became a lesson in the business press on how not to partner with a bad actor in advertising. Apparently, no one at WFLA was paying attention.

But we can certainly imagine why Scientology would be interested in the deal. David Miscavige has been promising for years to get more aggressive about television. In May 2016, the church opened a new set of studios in Hollywood, and Miscavige has been promising that the church will have its own cable TV channel at some point.

We imagine that in this case, Miscavige is trying to capitalize on what he perceives as a more positive image for Scientology in the Tampa area since it was hit by Hurricane Irma last year. In fact, WFLA aired some pretty glowing coverage of Scientology’s clean-up efforts after the storm.

We asked former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, who lives in WFLA’s coverage area, what he thinks of the partnership.

“This is more pandering to the whales,” Rinder says, referring to Scientology’s major donors. “There is no value to Scientology ‘sponsoring Olympics coverage’ other than to be able to point to this as ‘look how we are reaching the masses’ which is ‘why we need more money from you.’ But that is what SMP [the new Hollywood studios] was supposed to be – dissemination to the billions. The reason SMP isn’t going anywhere is that it can’t be used to raise money — in fact, if it was really operating it is a reason to NOT be able to collect money.

“Another oddity — one arena Scientology has NOT managed to infiltrate is the sports world. It’s not due to lack of trying. Not since 1970s SF 49ers quarterback John Brodie has there been any athlete of any renown in Scientology. So why the Olympics? Miscavige is trying to sound cool by association. You will see in the future he will be announcing this as, ‘we sponsored the Winter Olympics and hits on our website 39.2Xed.’ And then there will be an asterisk at the bottom in 5 point type that says ‘paid for advertising on local channel carrying Olympics coverage.’

“You can bet Channel 8 is going to be deluged with angry viewers protesting this. Despite Scientology’s large presence in Clearwater, their PR here is probably worse than anywhere, with the possible exception of Germany, France and Ireland,” he says.

And it turns out Tampa Channel 8 may not be the only station hoping to cash in on Scientology’s advertising this time of year. Looking around, we found this Denver NBC sales rep trolling for church cash…


As for the Facebook user who says the promo she saw included the tagline “Curious? We thought so,” that may be a tip-off to the title of this year’s Scientology Super Bowl ad.

Please see our previous coverage which explains how Scientology uses local ad spots to place commercials in the big game, and for examples of its Super Bowl ads going back to 2013.

We asked Claire Headley for her thoughts on the news that Tampa Channel 8 may be partnering with Scientology. Here’s what she sent us…

I lost my childhood, 30 years of my life, my freedom, two children, my mother and siblings, and all immediate family and friends to the cult of Scientology. And yet every year I see the ads of this cult being promoted to millions of unsuspecting Americans during the Super Bowl.

To hear, now, that Scientology will be running ads during the Winter Olympics tells me just how desperate they are.

My hope is that anyone and everyone who sees those ads complains to their local network that they are accepting money from a criminal organization flaunting itself as a religion. And by virtue of that fact, they are not only proselytizing scientology, a dangerous cult, to unsuspecting innocent people, they are also doing a huge disservice to their public. True religions don’t destroy families, force abortions nor demand millions of dollars from their members.

To anyone seeing those ads, please google scientology and then complain to your local network that they are promoting a dangerous cult, intentionally targeting the youth in your area:


200 South Parker Street

Tampa, FL 33606

ATTN: Station manager and advertising department

Call Sales at (813) 225-2720 AND/OR call the station’s main number, (813) 228-8888, and ask to speak with the general manager.

Go to’s Contact Us to fill out an email form.

Twitter: @wfla

Facebook: NBC Tampa
(Thanks to Kathy Manweiler for the above information)

Please don’t let any other unsuspecting Americans fall prey to this cult by not raising your voice.

Sure, they can waste their millions. But if those ads result in even one person joining, how would you feel about that? What if one of those people is your son or daughter? Cousin? Mother? Father? Friend? Please, raise your voice. Every voice counts, and personally I refuse to believe we can’t make a difference by what we do or don’t do. #ScientologyTheAftermath


Jim Carrey no longer facing lawsuit from Scientologist

The Hollywood Reporter yesterday revealed that the lawsuit filed against Jim Carrey by Mark Burton, a Scientologist who had secretly been married to Carrey’s on-again, off-again Scientologist girlfriend, Cat White, was suddenly dropped on January 25.

Cat killed herself in September 2015 with an overdose of Carrey’s prescription medications, and in his lawsuit Burton claimed that Carrey was responsible. Carrey denied it, saying that she had stolen his medication without his knowledge after their final breakup. Later, Cat’s estranged mother, Brigid Sweetman, joined Burton’s lawsuit.

It was this website which revealed that Cat White had been a Scientologist, and that she had talked about marrying one of her Scientologist friends for immigration purposes for years, even taking part in a “fake” wedding to produce photographs for immigration authorities. Eventually Cat had a quick secret wedding with Burton, a Scientologist who had some interesting ties to Scientology’s “Snow White” past. After Cat’s death, when it was revealed that she was married to Burton, even some of her close friends were stunned, telling us they had no idea.

Burton’s attorneys leaked information from Cat’s smartphone that suggested she had been distraught after she had been infected with STDs by Carrey. But Carrey later filed a countersuit, and he filed a motion claiming that Cat had lied about her test results and that Carrey was blameless for her condition.

Both lawsuits were dropped as of January 25, with neither side making comment. We’re seeing some press outlets assume that Carrey’s motion had “won” the case, but there’s no evidence of it — a settlement seems just as likely. Either way, Carrey no doubt is relieved that no trial will take place this spring.


Chris Shelton asks, is Scientology a religion?

Says Chris: “People have asked over the years how Scientology is a legitimate religion. In this video, I use Hubbard’s words and the “church’s” actions to show that it’s not. Enjoy!”



Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,012 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,615 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 158 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,221 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,995 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,769 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,115 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,609 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,649 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,361 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 887 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,976 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,116 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,436 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,411 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 767 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,069 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,175 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,578 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,450 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,032 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,537 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,781 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,890 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 1, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | 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


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