Earlier this week, the St. Petersburg Times did a special report on Scientology leader David Miscavige, but he couldn't find the time to do an interview that might affect the standing of his church, not to mention him personally.
After he was notified that the Times was going ahead with the printing without his input, he e-mailed a statement brow-beating them for not giving him a chance to "provide information annihilating the credibility of your sources". He goes on to say, "I am at a loss to comprehend how the St. Petersburg Times can publish a story about me and the religion I lead without accepting the offer to speak with me".
What David didn't realize, the Times also added the length of time he had been offered in a footnote: " Editor's note: The Times first requested an interview with Mr. Miscavige on May 13, and offered to meet with him in person, or interview him by telephone at any time since."
In more than a months time, he couldn't pick-up the phone to do a interview, but could arrange a "church spokesmen, executives, attorneys and others [to fly] in from around the country to meet with reporters in Clearwater. The parade started with ex-wives of the three male defectors. In 25 hours of meetings with reporters, the two church lawyers and two spokesmen extolled the accomplishments of David Miscavige and attacked the credibility of the defectors."
this was no accident of a busy schedule. this was policy.
Right out of Scientology's strategies for managing the news media
• Before taking 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. Moreover, unless you stand ready to print a Scientology story exactly as presented, you will be viewed as an enemy.
• 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 (the ecclesiastical equivalent of wrapping oneself in the flag) 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) .
• 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.) [listen to audio sample of Tommy Davis, church spokesman, below]
• 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. If the article presents no clear-cut falsehoods or errors but paints Scientology in an unfavorable light, the DA becomes a general reply (usually an attack on the source) that may be issued as a pamphlet, an ad, or an article.
In Scientology, only trained PRs are supposed to talk to the press. If an exception is made, it will be only those that are proofed up or drilled or have a proven track record of talking to the media about Scientology, and then it is often with a PR present.
Example: Tommy Davis Looses It
Audio from Part 5 of St.Pete Times: The Church of Scientology's Response.
Another recent example of the Scientology-Run-Around is documented in Nathan Baca's blog (of KESQ News3) while trying to get an interview/tour scheduled at Golden Era Productions, Miscavige's home, earlier this year. Well, that never happened, but they did end up in Los Angeles interviewing, none other than, Tommy Davis. Small world.
the miscavige interview was never going to happen
The Lisa McPherson debacle that was all bought and paid for was about to resurface. And Miscavige was going to be queried on it.
Her death on Dec. 5, 1995, triggered nine years of investigations, lawsuits and worldwide press coverage. Alive on the Internet, it stains Scientology’s reputation still. Rathbun, who defected from Scientology’s staff in late 2004, admits that as prosecutors and attorneys for McPherson’s family prepared subpoenas, he ordered the destruction of incriminating evidence about her care at the Fort Harrison.
He and others who have left the church disclose for the first time that Miscavige was involved in McPherson’s Scientology counseling. Just weeks before her mental breakdown, they say, it was the leader himself who determined that she had reached an enhanced mental state that Scientologists call “clear.’’
The full story can be viewed in Death in Slow Motion: Part 2 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology.
The Story Behind David Miscavige, Marty Rathburn and Lisa McPherson