Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, February 22, 2010

Church Of Scientology Hires Journalists To Investigate Critical Newspaper Coverage

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 2:02 PM

The Washington Post presented the latest evidence today that journalists are hard-up for jobs and cash: Three respected investigative reporters have sold their services to the Church of Scientology to pick apart the St. Petersburg Times' series of scathing investigative stories in 2009 about the church detractors call a criminal cult.

The former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Steve Weinberg, told the Post that the Scientologists paid him $5,000 to edit the study: "It certainly wouldn't be something just any reporter would do. My role

was more limited, and I can certainly use the money these days." Still, Weinberg said he "tried to make sure it's a good piece of journalism criticism, just like I've written a gazillion times." The other reporters who hired out their services were Pulitzer Prize-winning print reporter Russell Carollo, and

Emmy-winning TV producer Christopher Szechenyi.

Weinberg noted that the contract stipulated that the church doesn't have to make the study public, but that if it does, it has to release the entire 20-page critique -- which the church's spokesman Tommy Davis told the Post was "highly critical" of St. Pete's coverage. Imagine that.

Bay Area members of the international group of Scientology detractors

known as Anonymous (which we wrote about in 2008 feature stories) say

the move merely shows the church's desire to manipulate any negative

information about them. Anonymous has already been commenting on the

Post's piece on their on-line forum Why We Protest

"I think it's a foot bullet," one local long-time Anonymous protester told the Weekly.

"It's going to backfire on them, because its another thing of

Scientology trying to manipulate the media, this time by co-opting the

three journalists that they've hired ... [Scientology is] already

coming under a lot of scrutiny for this."

So does he think time-tested reporters can produce a objective critique when paid off by the very subject of that study? "It's going to be a real test of

[the hired reporters'] journalistic integrity," the protester said. We'll say.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , ,

About The Author

Lauren Smiley


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.
  • San Francisco Street Food Festival 2014
    The San Francisco Street Food Festival was another success this year. Dozens of vendors with original, unheard-of creations, such as deep fried mac and cheese on a stick, black pea paste pancakes, and Korean quesadillas. Then there was the comfort foods we've grown accustomed to, like creme bruleé, shrimp rolls, and pound cake. Photographs by Mabel Jimenez.