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Scientology gets another journalist fired for daring to print the truth

Like so many other online enterprises, InsideTheMagic started as a fan website from someone who wanted to write about his obsession. Created in 2005 as a podcast by Disney fan Ricky Brigante, the website grew to become a nexus for other Disney obsessives.

Brigante sold the site in 2018, and at that point online complaints about what a clickbait-machine the site was under its new management skyrocketed.

Snopes even had to debunk several of InsideTheMagic’s misleading headlines that were written simply to increase traffic to the site, and fans complained that increasingly ITM was publishing rumor as fact.

Brian Walton, an experienced entertainment journalist and film reviewer who had been editor in chief at Nerdist, tells us that he was encouraged when ITM offered him a job, saying that under a new content manager, the site was trying to get away from the clickbait and back to the kind of solid news coverage that had won its original audience.


He was brought on as an affiliate content producer, meaning that it would be clear that his opinions were his own and not necessarily that of the website. He says he was fine with that arrangement.

So, in July, as Tom Cruise’s latest Mission Impossible hit theaters, Walton reviewed it for InsideTheMagic, and was much more unimpressed with the movie than other critics.

In a lengthy, detailed review, Walton complained that the film was a collection of set-pieces that he’d already seen too many times in other movies that summer. Were Cruise and his director, Christopher McQuarrie, really this out of ideas?

From beginning to end, the movie is a solid, big Hollywood action blockbuster that I’ve unfortunately seen too many times. The central action set pieces of the film are borderline tropes that director Christopher McQuarrie is all too happy to check off. From the first gunfight in the desert to the chaotic car chase through the streets of Rome to the final big stunt and train sequence, everything in this film gave me a sense of deja vu from something else I’ve already seen in recent memory.

Hey, InsideTheMagic wanted his opinion, and Walton was not shy about giving it.

But what got him in trouble was something else.

As he sat down to watch the film, he was first greeted with a short segment featuring Nicole Kidman thanking him for coming to the theater. (If you’ve been to the movies lately, you might have seen this yourself.)

The irony was not lost on Walton, as he explained in his review…

It’s awkward to see a film in a theater where just before the movie starts and the lights go down, the movie star’s ex-wife, who has been banned from seeing their children by his church, comes on screen and gives the pledge of the movie theater allegiance. Let’s not mistake the reality of what Cruise’s paychecks go to support within his “religion.” Your ticket purchase went to Danny Masterson’s defense fund in Scientology via the massive paychecks Tom Cruise earns on these films. So yeah, there is some moral questioning about whether or not you want to see a movie star that supports that.

Hey, he’s not wrong. But you don’t see that kind of bold truth-telling every day, and maybe particularly at a website obsessed with all things Disney.

Walton says that the morning after the review appeared — and again, it was clearly labeled as Walton’s opinion, not the website’s — he was told that Scientology’s reps (probably its spokeswoman, Karin Pouw), had been ringing up the website and were not happy.

“I wake up to find out Scientology had gone after my boss and me while I was asleep. The editors of the site called my boss in the middle of the night, not me, in a panic,” he says.

The website’s editors decided to remove the lines about Scientology from Walton’s review, and that didn’t sit well with him.

“I asked them to take it down because it was no longer my review and they proved very quickly they would cave to pressure tactics,” he says.


After standing up for himself, he says, InsideTheMagic decided it didn’t want his strong opinions after all, and cut him loose.

We emailed the head of content asking about this a couple of weeks ago, and heard nothing. But Walton says he doesn’t mind us writing about this publicly.

“InsideTheMagic is a trash fire. The only reason I even went to work there is because the content director said she was trying to change things, but that turned put to be a bunch of BS.”

Meanwhile, Scientology continues to scare the crap out of nervous editors and publishers, even though it hasn’t actually sued a media company since 1995.

When are big media companies going to stand up to this bully?


Technology Cocktail

“The GPM is often curved out of shape by present life enturbulence to such an extent that only lock valences are available for assessing. This gives ‘scratchy needle’ and also can lead to finding only lock valences. Lock valences are appended to a real GPM 3-D item. They register and even seem to stay in but are actually impossible to run as 3-D items. An item found by an auditor and then proven incorrect by a checker was usually a lock item. If this happens, even the new item found by the checker may also be a lock item.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1962



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.



THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“Somebody made a horrible mistake over at the FCDC the other day, by mentioning ‘between lives’ during the church service and learned immediately that he should have kept his mouth very shut.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 25, 1963



Avast, Ye Mateys

“MIRACLE: In an org a man with fatal Hodkins Disease got a 25 minute touch assist, went back to the hospital and the disease was totally gone. They’d get many more if they just cut out the flubs!” — The Commodore, September 25, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“When Joe Biden says, ‘This is a fight for the soul of this country’, he is referring to those other beings, non-thetans, who are souls, and country means planet Earth since Thoth considers Earth as a whole, a country. The fight between Thoth and Christ is for Christ’s souls. Without Christ’s souls continuing to be imprisoned here, Thoth loses his matrix. Why? Because Christ’s souls power the Matrix. They are it’s battery. Ha! I just saw on TV, thousands of New Yorkers marching in the Climate Change Strike; the spiritual battle Thoth directed HAARP to create.”


Past is Prologue

1995: Judge Whyte has ruled similarly to judges in Colorado and Virginia. The Church of Scientology has been ordered to return the seized materials to Dennis Erlich. Dennis posted this week a list of the items they have not yet returned. “1) Any of the Sekrit Droppings they took from my house on February 13th. 2) The tape backup they took of my complete hard drive. 3) My February bank statement . 4) A transcript of a taped debate between Heber Jentzsch and me on KFI radio from 1991. 5) A demo tape of several of my hottest tunes. Advertisement

--------------------Random Howdy

“I’m guessing the Urban Land Institute isn’t aware they’re dealing with a posse of lunatics.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, first hearing set for Dec 4.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7. Next hearing set for Sept 26.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] How Scientology manufactured New York Times bestsellers for L. Ron Hubbard
[TWO years ago] Oregonian newspaper names Scientology prep school best small employer in the state
[THREE years ago] Serve Miscavige in an ad? Scientology honcho: ‘But you haven’t tried hard enough to find me!’
[FOUR years ago] Hiding in plain sight: how Scientology nearly got away with its 1970s espionage campaign
[FIVE years ago] Scientology rewards the celeb who bolted when her co-star went rogue
[SIX years ago] Paul Haggis: Rathbun does what I feared, and outs ex-Scientologist we vowed to keep secret
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology in Ireland is nearly dead: Here’s how Tom Cruise & the gang plan to bring it back
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s showdown in Belgium: Here’s our plan to cover an epic battle
[NINE years ago] What the Boston Globe left out of its story on Scientology yesterday
[TEN years ago] Scientology Catechism: Claire Headley Puts Our State of Clear to the Test


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 3,163 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,678 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,228 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,218 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,099 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,403 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,274 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,379 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,826 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,168 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,734 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,653 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,820 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,402 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,663 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,699 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,415 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,979 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,294 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,469 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,020 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,151 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,489 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,344 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,463 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,819 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,122 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,228 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,626 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,502 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,067 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,580 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,834 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,943 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 25, 2023 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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