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Leah Remini’s podcast: Forbes and Time writer Richard Behar on being a target of Fair Game

What a treat for us this week as Leah Remini and Mike Rinder spoke with journalist Rich Behar for their podcast. Rich, of course, wrote perhaps the single most important investigation of Scientology of all time with his May 1991 Time magazine article that called Scientology the “Thriving cult of greed and power,” and which proved to be a watershed in church history: Scientology has been shrinking ever since.

And Rich was back last week with a new piece in Forbes about potential Biden VP choice Karen Bass, expressing his dismay that she could claim that Scientology was only exposed after she made a 2010 speech in support of Scientology at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Los Angeles.

We go way back with Behar, who has been very supportive of the Underground Bunker and our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, and as always he was funny and sharp on the podcast with Mike and Leah as they talked about the Fair Game retaliation campaign he experienced in 1991, and about Karen Bass.

It was especially interesting to hear from Mike about the Time magazine piece from his perspective. At the time, he reminds us, David Miscavige was seeking tax exempt status for Scientology, and Behar’s cover story threw a wrench into it. And for that reason, the backlash they unleashed on him was completely different than what he had experienced writing about Scientology a few years earlier.


“My God, it hit an artery,” Rich said of Scientology’s reaction to the Time article.

We’ve pointed out many times that Scientology reached its greatest extent around that time, with about 100,000 active members around the world in 1990 (Scientology has never had the “millions” that it always claims, then and now). But after that piece showed up, Scientology began a long, steady decline, and our best estimate for current active membership is 20,000 or fewer.

Mike describes being pulled into a conference room by Miscavige the day the cover story appeared, along with Marty Rathbun, Warren McShane and others, as Miscavige informed them that they were going to war. One result was a daily ad campaign in USA Today that lasted 12 weeks, attacking Time magazine and its history. (See some great examples of what Scientology published at Mike’s blog today.)

Rich said he had heard that Scientology spent $3 million on the ad campaign. Mike informed him it was more like $50 million.

Um, wow!

The “Fair Game” campaign against him started even before publication, Rich says. “The private eyes were relentless.” They dug into his private life and childhood in nasty, disgusting ways, and then Scientology sued the magazine after the article came out for $416 million. When Readers Digest put out a version of the article, Scientology sued Readers Digest in 20 different countries.

Ultimately, with the various lawsuits and the ad campaigns, Miscavige spent “hundreds of millions” on the reaction to the Time article.

And, Rich and Mike pointed out — it worked!

Sure, Scientology lost the lawsuit and it was dismissed. But Time had spent millions defending itself and the rest of the media knew it. So a chilling effect kept other news organizations from doing other pieces about Scientology for years. (We’ve pointed out numerous times that it was Tom Cruise coming out as an ambassador of Scientology in 2005 that changed things and opened the floodgates for more media about Scientology. Thank you, Tom!)

Your proprietor and Behar both realized what a big deal it was that major publishing houses finally dropped their reticence about Scientology as a subject when Janet Reitman’s book Inside Scientology came out in 2011 and Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear hit bookshelves in 2013.


[Celebrating the publication of ‘Going Clear’ in 2013]

As for Karen Bass, Behar pointed out something we also, here at the Underground Bunker, were quick to point out after she made her Twitter statement about her 2010 speech at the Los Angeles ‘Ideal Org’ grand opening: Did she really believe that before 2010, Scientology’s abuses and controversies had not been exposed?


In fact, the years after Cruise’s efforts in 2005 backfired were a particularly fruitful period for Scientology exposes, from Reitman’s 2006 Rolling Stone article to Jenna Miscavige Hill’s 2008 Nightline appearance, to the epic 2009 “Truth Rundown” series in the Tampa Bay Times, which also spawned Anderson Cooper’s five-part CNN series just the month before Bass’s speech.

“It’s bizarre that she’s one of Biden’s top contenders. She doesn’t seem to know how to do a Google search for five minutes,” Rich says. He also says that it’s bizarre that he’d had no response whatsoever from Bass’s offices in either Los Angeles or DC.

Mike said that he doesn’t think Bass is a Scientologist herself, and we tend to agree. But Leah has doubts about Bass’s claim not to have realized what was going on in 2010.

“I believe she knows exactly what Scientology is up to,” she says.

“She’s got some explaining to do,” adds Rich.



Valerie Haney motion for reconsideration gets a ruling today

Operating in the COVID era, the hearing scheduled for today at Los Angeles Superior Court in Valerie Haney’s lawsuit will be held telephonically, and at around 1:30 pm Los Angeles time. We’re on the road and can’t listen in as it’s happening, but we hope to get a result soon after.

Valerie should get a ruling today on the “motion to reconsider” that she filed in March after her kidnapping and slander lawsuit against Scientology and leader David Miscavige was derailed in January. Judge Richard Burdge ruled that Valerie was bound by contract to take any disputes to Scientology’s own internal “religious arbitration,” even though most of what she alleged took place after she’d left her job in the Sea Org.

After that decision, Valerie filed her motion for reconsideration, saying that new evidence showed that she had actually been fired a week before she signed that exit agreement, and therefore shouldn’t be held to it. But Scientology’s attorneys said that wasn’t new information, and they’ve asked the judge not only to rule against her motion, but also to assign $160,000 in sanctions for wasting their time.

The odds tend to be stacked against motions for reconsideration, so we’ll keep that in mind as we prepare to hear Judge Burdge’s decision. And would he go so far as to saddle her with sanctions? We await the outcome.



Bonus items from our tipsters

Pamela has never been so present time!


Get out those wallets!



Source Code

“Illiterate cultures do not survive and they are not very high. The natives of the tribe of the Bugga-Bugga Booga-Boogas down in Lower Bugga-Wugga Booga-Woog are mostly no longer with us or they are around waving red flags today and revolting against their central government. They’re having a bad time. Well, the British Tommy that went down there with his Snider or his Lee-Enfield and brought them higher education in the first place was only occasionally followed by anybody who taught them anything. And they didn’t learn fast. Their literacy was not up to absorbing culture rapidly. So, of course, they can be victimized by anybody who comes along. Once the line is open, if literacy doesn’t follow and if secondhand observation is not available to a people, they stultify, they die, they go to pieces, they degrade. They are struck by this tremendous volume of exterior culture. They’ve been very happily down amongst the bong-bong trees, you know, dancing up and down amongst the bong-bong trees and the highest level of their interest, and so forth, was their own back yard. They could tell you all about bong-bong trees and they could tell you all about you mustn’t step in bug-bug bushes, because you step on a thump-thump snake and this was their direct observation.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 11, 1964



Overheard in the FreeZone

“In the last 100 or so years, science has done very little real advancing and a whole lot of chasing its own tail. Don’t imagine that most of what you see as advances in technology are triumphs of science; they aren’t. There’s a little incremental science in there and a whole lot of engineering, which is not the same thing at all. And unfortunately, most of what the God of Physics, Albert Einstein, had to say is based on false assumption and is thus false. Yet physics has been limited by his writings for a least a century. Interestingly enough, Einstein’s writings, if accepted would be the exact thing you’d promote if you wanted to keep a planetary population bound to their planet. Four years to get to the nearest star, if you could go as fast as light, which Einstein says you can’t.”


Random Howdy

“Back in my punk days I would donate plasma twice a week for $20 a pop. It helped keep me in pizza.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Arraignment scheduled for September 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing is set for August 27 in White Plains, NY
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Jan 12 in Los Angeles
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Hearing on motion for reconsideration set for August 11
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Sept 4 (CSI/RTC demurrer against Riales, Masterson demurrer), Oct 7-19 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach bankruptcy appeal: Oral arguments were heard on March 11 in Jacksonville
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology’s efforts to suck up to power is appearing to pay off
[TWO years ago] Church of Fear: When John Sweeney sat down with Anne Archer and Leah Remini
[THREE years ago] Leah Remini calls for federal action: Here’s the frustrating reason the IRS may not answer
[FOUR years ago] Never-before-seen photo of Diana Hubbard, daughter of Scientology’s founder
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s front group that targets kids gets cover from a Swiss politician: News report
[SIX years ago] Mike Rinder on Scientology’s pathetic PR, and the Freewinds welcomes a famous clown
[SEVEN years ago] Stop Picking on Scientology! Double-Fisted Wisdom from 1977
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Drug Program Narconon’s Licensing “Extremely Vulnerable” After Oklahoma Deaths, Says Insider
[NINE years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 23: Ken Dandar


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,026 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,530 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,050 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,070 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 961 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,268 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,136 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,910 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,714 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,030 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,596 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,515 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,683 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,264 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,525 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,563 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,276 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,801 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,331 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,891 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,031 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,351 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,206 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,325 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,681 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,984 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,090 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,492 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,364 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,947 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,442 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,696 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,805 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 11, 2020 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 14 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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