SCIENTOLOGY AND THE MEDIA: A GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was deeply suspicious of the media (whom he called "chaos merchants") and established procedures for controlling and manipulating journalists that are still used by the Church of Scientology today. (See "Procedure on Entheta Press," MANUAL OF JUSTICE, by L. Ron Hubbard.) http://tinyurl.com/35tyj
Any journalist dealing with a Scientology public relations operative (referred to in the church as a "PR") faces a special challenge. No one understood that challenge better than did the late Robert Vaughn Young, who handled public relations and the media for Scientology for more than 20 years -- ultimately leaving the church and becoming an articulate and effective critic of it.
The following is excerpted from his article, "Scientology from inside out," which appeared in the November/December 1993 edition of QUILL. The article in its entirety is highly recommended and can be found online at http://tinyurl.com/39hdf
"The Scientology world"is a labyrinth of corporate shells that"was designed to baffle all but the initiated. Add to that an arcane language and dedicated ‘PRs’ trained to divert and control inquiries, and it becomes obvious why few outsiders have been able to comprehend the Scientology hydra, let alone write about it. I hope this will make it easier"
"For my training, I studied"secret directives from Hubbard and others on how to handle reporters, how to deal with police and government agencies, how to create front groups, and how to discredit or destroy a person or a group with Hubbard's ‘fair game’ doctrine.
"I also trained other Scientology PRs on how to handle the media, using material from Hubbard. This included how to respond to a question without answering, how to divert the issue, how to tell ‘an acceptable truth,’ how to stall for time, how to assume various emotional states to control another, how to ‘attack the attacker,’ how to take control of a conversation, how to introvert a person and how to ‘get the message across’ (especially in an age of sound bites), how to help Scientology attorneys write inflammatory legal papers so the PR could then safely use the abusive phrases, and how to appear to be a religion.
"This, in brief, is what a journalist faces when encountering a trained and dedicated Scientology PR. The journalist wants a story. The PR wants to kill the story, or at least control it. While this is not particularly unusual, Scientology goes further than most. Scientology stands ready and able to unleash an assault on the journalist that can include private detectives and lawsuits, making it little wonder that publications have grown reluctant to write about the Hubbard empire. (See ‘Shudder into silence,’ QUILL, Nov./Dec. 1991.)
"Since Scientologists know how the Fourth Estate operates, it's time the journalist had a chance to learn some of the attitudes, rules, tactics, and tricks known only to Scientology.
1. YOUR LOCAL FANATIC. Before talking with any Scientology PR or executive, a journalist must know that he or she will be talking to a fanatic - a person seeking to save the world. This is exactly what Scientologists believe they are doing. "unless you stand ready to print a Scientology story exactly as presented, you will be viewed as an enemy.
2. YOU KEEPING NOTES? Know that after your meeting (and after each encounter, including phone calls) the PR will write a debrief. This report will usually be E-mailed to the PR's superior and up the command channel - and probably also into an intelligence area for filing. Therefore, start your own notes of everything that transpires.
3. IMAGE IS EVERYTHING. Realize that when you are dealing with a PR or official of the Church of Scientology, religious image is not only a vital PR defense"but is also crucial for tax-exemption purposes and for court cases. Thus the PR must be sure to demonstrate that Scientology is ‘an applied religious philosophy.’ The PR will have many documents to ‘prove the religious bona fides’ of Scientology (but lack anything to the contrary - such as decisions or rulings - of which he may honestly not know).
4. THE SHELL GAME. When proving the bona fides, PRs make no distinction among the many Scientology corporations" But when needed, a complex labyrinth of corporations - a veritable hall of mirrors - comes into play. Suddenly no two Scientology organizations touch. Officials of one will act as if they barely know the officials in another. The reason is, of course, the IRS and the courts. So try to find out which corporation you're talking to and how it relates to the material you are being given"
Trying to sort out the relations between the Church of Spiritual Technology, World Institute of Scientology Enterprises and the Religious Technology Center is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Simply take the shortcut: find the unincorporated Sea Organization (SO). Touted as a ‘fraternal’ organization, the SO is the highest inner circle of Scientology; it was the actual alter ego of Hubbard, the hidden nexus that permeates all corporations"
5. SAY WHAT? Politicians are notorious for responding to a question without answering it; Scientology PRs practice the skill for hours on end. The PR will drill how to answer simple questions about Scientology, how to ‘no-answer’ a question, how to stall for time, and how to attack. (According to the original material, this included shouting, banging the desk, pointing at the reporter, and swearing.)
Thus a seemingly innocuous question such as ‘What is Scientology?’ has already been practiced extensively, and there is a ready answer. More probing questions will produce ‘no answer.’ Therefore a reporter can measure sensitivity by avoidance, and you will find that once you understand this, it is quite easy to spot.
To deal with this, first realize that it is part of the PR's training. Listen carefully to his or her answers. (Better yet, tape the interview.) When the PR tries to avoid the question with a non sequitur, repeat your question. Continue to repeat your question until you actually get an answer. Ask the PR what drills he or she did before your interview, and ask to see current organization policies on handling the media. (Many are publicly available in Scientology bookstores.)
6. A DEAD WHAT? Depending on your story angle, you can easily find yourself buried by packs of documentation. Some are called ‘DA [dead agent] packs.’ Hubbard took the phrase from Sun-tzu's The Art of War, in which different types of agents are described. The ‘dead agent’ is the one who is caught in a lie. The ‘DA pack’ is supposed to counter a lie (thereby rendering the liar ‘dead’ as a credible source) and usually addresses a particular document, from a newspaper article to a book. It is also used to discredit a person or a group that may be a source of criticism of Scientology.
A DA pack can include anything from Hubbard's writings to a piece of press to an affidavit obtained by a private investigator. The purpose is to refute the targeted piece, person or group at virtually any cost" Where possible, verify the claims or documentation. Contact the targeted person, group, or author of the article. Also take note of what is not refuted or challenged. In Scientology, omission can be as good as admission"
7. GO FOR THE GOLD. In Scientology, there is an exact chain of command" The media are handled by the Office of Special Affairs, or OSA, in the Church of Scientology. The OSA PR will have a senior on the PR chain of command. If the PR is a local OSA staff member (meaning the PR for a city or area), his or her senior will be at the continental level (such as OSA United States, located in Los Angeles) and then at the ‘Int’ or international level (OSA Int is also in L.A.). After that, the chain of command jumps to the Religious Technology Center (RTC). In highly unusual circumstances, an RTC official will intervene to handle a journalist, particularly if it is a crucial story for one reason or another, because RTC monitors all OSA activity and is ultimately responsible for any media on Scientology, whether good or bad.
"RTC's chairman of the board is David Miscavige, who is now the admitted head of the Church of Scientology" For any story on Scientology, Miscavige is the one to be interviewed. He lives on the Golden Era Productions property at Gilman Hot Springs. The PR assigned to you will know how to get a message to him. If all else fails, call Golden Era Productions. The personnel there know how to reach him.
Scientology is in a state of siege with psychiatry, the media, and anything else perceived as attacking Hubbard or the organization. It has been that way since Hubbard named them as enemies decades ago"
There will be no lack of material from Scientology about the movement. But there are a number of works that the Scientologists will not cite. Among them are:
? LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 24-29, 1990. This is a six-part series by Robert W. Welkos and Joel Sappell. It is the most comprehensive series undertaken by a newspaper. http://tinyurl.com/3djd9
? TIME MAGAZINE, May 6, 1991, ‘Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power,’ by Richard Behar. http://tinyurl.com/28nox
? Jon Atack. A PIECE OF BLUE SKY: SCIENTOLOGY, DIANETICS AND L. RON HUBBARD EXPOSED (Carol Publishing Group, 1990). This is the most definitive book available. http://tinyurl.com/25rov
? Russell Miller. BARE-FACED MESSIAH: THE TRUE STORY OF L. RON HUBBARD (paperback, Sphere Books Ltd., 1987) http://tinyurl.com/3d2sk
? Roy Wallis. THE ROAD TO TOTAL FREEDOM: A SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF SCIENTOLOGY
(Columbia University Press, 1976). This is a cold, calm, academic dissection of the subject and Hubbard.
"SIDEBAR: THE SECULAR SIDE:
Scientology actually has two sides: the religious and the secular. Some may prefer to pursue just the secular side. For example:
? The Way to Happiness Foundation This was formed to manage distribution of the Hubbard booklet by the same name that he claimed is a ‘non religious moral code.’ Others say it is a covert way of establishing Hubbard's presence.
? Author Services Inc. (ASI) - This was established in the early 1980s as a for profit ‘full service literary agency’ with offices on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. The only catch was that Hubbard was the only author. And every staff member was in the Sea Organization.
? Bridge Publications, Inc. (BPI) - BPI publishes Hubbard's books and materials and distributes them to Churches of Scientology as well as to commercial outlets. It is located at the Scientology complex in Hollywood.
? Citizens Commission On Human Rights (CCHR) - Coordinated out of the Office of Special Affairs, CCHR is perhaps Scientology's oldest effort in the field of social reform. It does not overtly promulgate Scientology but its connection is not denied. Its purpose is to expose the ‘crimes’ of psychiatry.
? Sterling Management - A large for-profit management consulting firm in Glendale, Calif., Sterling Management holds ‘seminars’ regularly in cities across the United States. Its primary audience appears to be dentists. It says that it is merely using the ‘administrative technology’ of L. Ron Hubbard to help businesses grow. Others say that it is a covert way of bringing money and new people into Scientology"
This is but the beginning. There are many more for-profit groups that claim to use Hubbard technology. They are usually members of the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE) which is licensed by RTC to use Hubbard's name and materials. WISE issues a directory of members, and other publications (such as the ‘Who, What, Where’ directory in Los Angeles) and also promotes businesses that are Scientologically-oriented and staffed or run by Scientologists."
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