In a desperate bid for ratings CNN’s Anderson Cooper tries an old gambit that may seem like a good idea but which in fact routinely fails to revitalize fading careers: an attack on Scientology.
This week CNN posted its lowest ratings ever as a network. The numbers for Anderson Cooper 360 are now so far below its competitors that the CNN anchor is no longer scraping the bottom of the barrel – he’s it.
Which forces us (along with most of America) to wonder why President of CNN Worldwide, Jim Walton, keeps Cooper on the payroll. Particularly when this week, in the midst of the high holidays of two of the world’s great religions, Anderson Cooper takes it upon himself to air in segments over five nights, an hour or more of video of a handful of church apostates telling egregious lies about the leader of the Scientology religion, Mr. David Miscavige.
When approached by 360 to comment on their “story,” Church of Scientology executives cooperated fully, providing the producers with, as Cooper admits on-camera, “affidavits, declarations and dozens of emails and letters” refuting and correcting the lies spun by Mark Rathbun and his cohorts – individuals who left church staff, then began attacking Scientology and Mr. Miscavige through a planned media campaign. In addition, the Church made some of its top executives available for on-camera interviews, doing everything possible to answer the assertions. Regardless, throughout the interviews, Anderson appears to go out of his way to present the apostates in a positive light while painting church executives negatively.
Cooper looks on kindly and without interrupting Rathbun, while the notoriously abusive former church member paints himself as a victim who just couldn’t stop himself from punching co-workers in the stomach and throwing them down staircases. But when Cooper interviewed a group of four church executives, who all knew Rathbun and wanted their eye-witness accounts to be heard, the CNN anchor routinely cut them off mid-sentence, allowing none to finish their statements, forcing each to talk on top of the other in an effort to be heard. When Cooper also interviewed as a group the former wives that Mark Rathbun, Mike Rinder, and cohorts Jeff Hawkins and Tom Vocht, abandoned, Cooper treated these women the same way. The editing of this footage juxtaposed a calm Rathbun against seemingly aggressive groups of church members, furthering an overall negative impression of the Church. At no point does Cooper reveal that this abuse of staff in Rathbun’s and Mike Rinder’s areas ceased years ago, as soon as they were removed from positions of authority.
One particularly detrimental misrepresentation was Cooper’s description of the Internet hate group, Anonymous, as an “anti-Scientology” group “which protests against the church,” failing to mention that the anarchists who comprise Anonymous spread hatred against all minorities, some having been arrested and convicted of crimes against other individuals and organizations, in addition to the Church of Scientology.
Cooper is apparently also ignorant of the fact that Anonymous is inflating the comments on CNN websites/blogs in an effort to make it appear as if a larger number of viewers approve of his treatment of the Scientology religion. How much judgment does it take to know that when the audience is turning you off in droves, it’s probably not a good idea to go out of your way to alienate whatever is left of your audience by airing what amounts to a grossly unbalanced, tabloid-style smear on the world’s fastest growing religion? Are the 360 staff so cloistered as to not realize that just about any attack by the mainstream media on religious people these days is considered an attack on all? Haven’t they been watching thehighest rated cable network, Fox News?
One has to wonder about the judgment of a news anchor who, even under the best of circumstances, thinks this a “bright idea.” Our guess is that Anderson will also be wondering what he could have been thinking in about a month from now when he slinks out the door with his pink slip. The excerpted documents below represent just part of the wealth of documentation supplied to Anderson Cooper and his 360 producers that tell the other side of the story – the side that went largely ignored.
Excerpted declarations/affidavits from people that knew Mark Rathbun, Mike Rinder and others:
“I also believe that, apart from Mike Rinder’s wife, I spent more time with Mike Rinder than any other staff member from 2001 to 2007. I also, for a time, shared an apartment with him and his wife. At no time in the entirety of this period did Mike Rinder ever suggest that he had been abused or assaulted by Mr. Miscavige.”
“I saw signs of abuse after one incident which I witnessed. This involved Mark Rathbun. In 2004, Mark Rathbun was in a boardroom with several senior Scientology executives, including Mike Rinder’s wife. He lunged at Mike Rinder, threw him to the ground, and began choking him. It took five big men, including myself, to pull Rathbun off Rinder, who was literally turning purple.”
“After this incident, Rinder confided in me that Mark Rathbun had abused him physically on five different occasions. He spoke of his deep hatred for Mark Rathbun.”
“I also have intimate knowledge about another one of the BBC’s sources, Jeff Hawkins. He worked in an area that was under my charge for three years (2002-2005). He held the position of Copywriter in the Church’s dissemination area. I have seen reports that Jeff Hawkins alleged abuse from Mr. Miscavige during this time. This is patently false and slanderous. The first purported incident allegedly happened in a meeting with Mr. Miscavige. The meeting was on February 26, 2002 in the conference room at International Management. Jeff Hawkins and another staffer were making a presentation on Dianetics to several international management executives (Note: Neither Mark Rathbun or Amy Scobee were present at the meeting). I was sitting next to Jeff during this meeting and at NO TIME did Mr. Miscavige physically attack him.
Jeff was caught out on a lie by Mr. Miscavige during his presentation of a major promotional effort; Jeff confessed that years earlier he lied to L. Ron Hubbard regarding results of a informational survey, when the survey he was reporting on had actually never been done. When this lie was uncovered, and the potential for wasting Church funds with his new “effort” was exposed by Mr. Miscavige, Jeff proceeded to talk in a low voice so he could not be heard, which was very annoying and I, as his senior insisted he cease this attitude and disrespect. No abuse occurred. Additionally, any meetings Jeff Hawkins attended with Mr. Miscavige from 2002 – 2005, I would have been present as the senior, and again there were no incidents of abuse, in fact totally the opposite. Mr. Miscavige would only give very positive direction and specific handlings to raise the quality and effectiveness of whatever was being worked on.”
“I have attended over 1,000 meetings involving Church marketing. I witnessed one meeting where Jeff Hawkins, a fellow marketing staff member at that time, was presenting a campaign for “Scientology”. However; the way he presented the campaign was not the way someone would present a multi-million-dollar campaign to executives. He smelled of body odor, he was unshaven, his voice tone was very low and he could hardly be heard. Someone asking for millions of dollars to launch a long-term campaign would never behave like that. Jeff did. Of course his campaign was never approved and it was totally not acceptable. And now, he claims he was “hit” by Mr. Miscavige. I was right there. He wasn’t hit by anyone. He was told to wake up, and speak louder and frankly to correct his attitude. He claims he was beaten up and held down. It’s all a lie. I was there.”
“I also was present at hundreds of campaigns meetings with Mr. Miscavige present. He would always joke with me. We would laugh about my accent (as I have a heavy Spanish accent); he would always direct me as to what to do to make the campaign better. Usually, he would approve it on the spot. This occurred with a very big Dianetics campaign for seminars, for Church Technical films marketing, for a training campaign; he approved these right on the spot. It was an experience to see him happy because someone had fully understood and implemented what he had suggested and you would see from his eyes how this could achieve expansion and more people participating in religious studies.”
“I know I was not perfect in performing my staff duties, and there were some things that I was ignorant about, but Mr. Miscavige never treated me badly because of it. People below him did unbeknownst to him, but not him, personally, ever. He was always encouraging to me, helping me and making sure I had the needed direction to do my duties correctly. I told a friend of mine, for years, that I’d rather deal with Mr. Miscavige personally on the campaigns than dealing with those below him, because those below him, like Mark Rathbun (“Marty”) would misinterpret everything and would use punishment in place of direction and hatting (teaching or training someone for their staff functions). Mr. Miscavige never used punishment. In fact, I must confess, that many times my friend and I would “run into” Mr. Miscavige purposely so we could have a conversation straight with him and not those below him. He understood what we wanted to do and it happened to be that every time our plan of “running into him” took place, we got our correct product and of course approval on our dissemination strategies. While we would joke and laugh, we would feel most importantly, that we could make a difference. That is what it is like to work under Mr. Miscavige.”
“Mr. Miscavige is the most caring person I have ever worked under. After working at Golden Era for years, I was in meetings sometimes where he would look at me and I could tell he knew that I was not feeling well. I used to suffer from migraines for a long period of time. Every time Mr. Miscavige was present at one of those meetings when I had a migraine, he would have one of the staff take care of me to make sure I got the appropriate medical handlings as well as Scientology Auditing (spiritual counseling). And that resolved the situation, as I don’t have migraines any more.”
“While there were heated moments during my time at Golden Era Productions, they were caused by other people’s stupidities, not by Mr. Miscavige getting heated and going at people. It just didn’t happen. It DIDN’T EVER HAPPEN that he went after anyone. While I was at the same meetings that some people who claim Mr. Miscavige beat them were at, I can tell you I was there and beatings did not happen.”
“Unfortunately, Mr. Miscavige was not at the Church facility … for long periods of time and he would leave people in charge, such as Marty Rathbun, who betrayed him when he was gone by claiming that he was acting under Mr. Miscavige’s authority when he wasn’t and in fact he was abusing his authority.”
“At no time, during my 30 years tenure as a volunteer with the CofS, nor within my 25 years association and participation and/or co-relations with David Miscavige, as described herein, have I ever personally experienced, or borne witness to, visibly or audibly, the infliction of bodily harm, physical pain or any physiological damage to another human being, as a result of any contact, encounter, engagement, communication, altercation or shared circumstance, with David Miscavige, with myself present, or as otherwise informed of, by any of my current and/or former associates.”
“Michael (Mike) Rinder declaration of information:
a. I have personally known Michael (Mike) Rinder and his (former) wife Cathy Rinder since 1978, since employed with the CofS location in Clearwater, FL, before I relocated to the CofS location in California in 1979. My relations with Mike have been both involved and consistent over the years, primarily through approximately 67 international broadcast and videotaped events, that I was either the Executive Producer, Producer or Production Manager on, under the direction of David Miscavige. There have also been a number of other projects and employment circumstances I have been involved directly and personally with Mike on, including the construction, establishment, testing and finalization of all the audio-visual systems, and media properties, of the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition in Los Angeles, CA, as well as the production of its Grand Opening event, gaining national media coverage.
b. My employment relations have also extended through his multiples executive tenures within the CofS itself, as well as involvement with the production of numerous audio-visual media projects for the Office of Special Affairs, while under his administration.
c. My earliest experiences with Mike, beginning in 1978, include a period of looking after his children and domestic activities in conjunction with his former wife, Cathy, while Mike remained preoccupied with church business and activities for several periods. My experienced knowledge of Mike’s lifestyle, attitudes, activities, actions and reactions, while employed with the CofS, and his direct involvement with David Miscavige, as well as Mike’s credibility, is represented by myself from a sound reflection of my long-term experience and personal observation and encounters with Mike. d. From 1998-2004, Mike had creditable responsibilities directly (and indirectly) involving the writing and creative direction of speeches and programs of specifically directed Church PR, expansion and outreach planning for export to subordinate CofS units and affiliated Scientology groups or organizations, and for use in the public media representation of the CofS, requiring QA and final authorization of these said creative representations, by David Miscavige.
During this aforementioned period, off and on most notably from 1999-2004, Mike became intimately involved in both project and related CofS business dialogue and conferencing with myself and other peers for whom I was employed with, in the creative and managerial aspects of both CofS media production and digital product development, under the direction of David Miscavige. During this same period, there was a marked absence of David Miscavige from the … CofS location, due to other pressing CofS church legal and PR matters requiring his attention and involvement elsewhere. As such, Mike was operating from the altitude and authority empowered to him by David Miscavige, to function in the absence of David Miscavige, with regards specific activities for which he was assigned responsible, primarily embracing project and planning performance including reporting directly and/or indirectly to David Miscavige on the progress of all aforementioned activities.
f. A number of these activities involved myself in communication with Mike, such as the programs I was administering within Golden Era Productions. These included digital processing and manufacturing development programs, organizational structure and hierarchy planning, product release publication copy and design for marketing, and land and property structure space and architectural development and planning. Mike would intermittently be involved with myself, gathering information on progress, development and relaying direction and/or providing input as a result of his own dialogue and/or reviews with David Miscavige.
g. As a result of these reviews, there were a minimum of 6 occasions that I can vividly recall, over the course of this aforementioned period, wherein Mike would emotionally “blow his top” or “explode” about details with regards these various projects and programs with resultant physical altercations. On one occasion, in February 2001, while attending my presence with approximately 11 of his executive peers and subordinates, and with myself in a senior church member capacity of Executive Director of Golden Era Productions, Mike physically lunged at my body while both Mike and I were in a standing position, grasped my throat firmly and with clasping pressure from both his left and right hands, pressed his thumbs into my thorax until I could no longer inhale oxygen. My body was forcefully slammed against a hallway wall and with his face approximately 1-2 inches from mine, screamed loudly and indiscernibly with regards a building space development plan found objectionable by David Miscavige.
Following this, I was forcibly shoved by the back of my head into a small cubicle, and instructed to remain there until contacted for subsequent discussion. Due to the pressured contact on my throat, I was unable to speak for approximately 10-15 minutes. Several hours later, I was allowed to depart the cubicle, following discussion with a designated individual. Yet it was not until a week subsequent to this incident was I able to obtain direct verbal communication with David Miscavige, wherein I was given direction on the objectionable aspect of my prior proposal building space development plan, wherein was able to now modify and correct the proposal originally provided, having now gained clarity on the planning changes necessary to do so. I was also able to speak with both Michelle and Laurisse, gaining additional clarity there were no instructions [ever] given to Mike to have reacted in the fashion he did in the prior described incident.
h. There are 5 other incidents of physical altercation of Mike either bodily shoving me in the chest, twisting my arm to a painful result or pushing my face, each as a result of an alleged objection by David Miscavige to either a project or product I had personally forwarded to David for QA or those subordinate to me had. In each and every one of these incidents, there were subsequent production conferences or meetings wherein the task or product under discussion was addressed and clear and/or exact direction was provided as to what did not meet QA criteria, and time was allotted for the reprocessing the task to enable a resubmit of the task and/or product as part of that project. At no time during any of these specifically mentioned reviews was there a physical altercation, threat of physical violence or engagement of any physical contact, by David Miscavige with myself. Nor was there any inference of having directed any to occur. The only physical violence or physical altercations, were as a result of those as performed by Mike Rinder.
i. My association with Mike Rinder involves the direct observation and personal witness of him lying to David Miscavige as a “habit” and “routine” at executive and production conference meetings, when questioned as to his involvement with the creative production of audio-visual media requiring QA by David Miscavige.
These meetings occurred between 1991-2002. During this time, I personally bore witness to Mike answering “yes”, with further dialogue in description, of Mike’s personal involvement with the scriptwriting, shot selection, rough editing, final editing and quality review of audio-visual media for CofS broadcast events, and social betterment activity programs. I observed Mike on literally hundreds of occasions to do the following: not watch a video property all the way through and state that he had; not visually view all proposed stock shots and say he had; not view a current edit version change of a video property and say he had; not listen to a music product mix and say he had; not relay a QA objection to a studio engineer and say he had; not read a script all the way through for edit revisions and say he had; not appear in a studio both for a product review and say he had; not attend a creative meeting and say he had. As a result of these repeated “white lies” or “dishonesties”, as observed by myself, several of my peers as well as subordinate production employees, Mike had become known verbally in the subordinate production circle in the Cinematography Division of Editorial, as “bullshit artist”.
Mike also on numerous occasions did show up for editorial product reviews, however would fall asleep in the studio booth chair and not wind up viewing the entire audio-visual property, but when later questioned if he had, would answer “yes” to David Miscavige, when Mike had only seen a portion of the medium under discussion.
j. Due to the intensive, extensive and intimate involvement of myself on these same projects, as I was the primary executive responsible for the administration and production of these same projects, I was physically present throughout the vast majority of these production processes. As a result, I was the “go-to” executive in Golden Era Productions, for David Miscavige, Mike Rinder and specific other senior CofS top executives. As such, I had credible familiarity with who was and was not always involved with each and every audio-visual media production, from scriptwriting to final broadcast, as well as subsequent post production and export to all international church locations. As such, my aforementioned statements of witness to Mike Rinder was based on both a sound and observed experience with him, and reflect truth on those observations.”