Bad Journalist

Following two posts on Nullifidian’s blog (here and here), and a bit on BBC News 24 this morning, I couldn’t help but start to feel sorry for John Sweeney. In a nutshell, this guy is a BBC reporter who has been looking into the ridiculous cult which calls itself the Church of Scientology. From Nullifidian’s site:

John Sweeney investigates the Church of Scientology, endorsed by some major Hollywood celebrities, but which continues to face the criticism that it is less of a religion and more of a cult. Some former members claim the Church uses a mind control technique to put opponents at a psychological disadvantage. During the course of his investigation, Sweeney is shouted at, spied on, visited in his hotel at midnight and chased around the streets of LA by strangers in hire cars.

Sadly, Sweeney is far from a “good” investigative journalist. I suspect he planned to use this Scientology thing to get a “big break” into the real world of hardcore investigators. When faced with fairly obvious methods, Sweeney falls for them and hands the Scientologist Cultists a few (albeit minor) PR victories. In typical Cult fashion, the Scientologists have pounced on any apparent weakness shown by Sweeney and a video clip of him loosing it (after goading it should be added) has been getting lots of hits on YouTube.

Obviously, being PR-Aware, the Scientology Cultists got the clip to YouTube long before Panorama could go out. This seems to me like an organisation which has realised it is going to look bad in the court of public opinion and is trying to discredit it’s “opponent” in advance. Does this surprise anyone?

In a rather lame return shot, the BBC news today showed the clip with it’s surrounding footage. While it does explain why Sweeney lost it (a bit), it still shows him in a bad light. He is not fast witted enough to respond to the Cults comments – even when they are so blatantly nonsensical it screams for a retort – and does not appear confident in himself enough to resist their tricks and PR traps. Not the best example of Panorama’s investigative style of journalism. In one instance the cult official Sweeney is talking to rages at him for “disrespecting” his (Scientologist’s) faith. Sweeney’s only response is “I am a British citizen and we have the right to freedom of speech.” Lame and inaccurate.

Part of me feels the BBC, and Sweeney, viewed Scientology as a sort of “club” cult which would be an easy target. This may be the case in the UK, but it overlooks the years of practice and experience the cult has had in the UK, where much more aggressive organisations have attacked it.

On a more generalist note, why draw the line at Scientology? Why is it, that the nonsense claims of L Ron Hubbard are any more nonsense than the Church of Latter Day Saints, the New Testament, The Koran, The Old Testament (etc). They are all nonsensical woo cults. Is Scientology viewed as a legitimate target “religion” (it is not a “religion” in the UK, fortunately) simply because it is new? Which impartial judge gets to choose between one being true and the other false?

[tags]Scientology, John Sweeney, BBC reporter, YouTube, L Ron Hubbard, Brainwashed, Nutters, Cult, Woo, Idiots, Panorama, Society, Mind Control, Insane, Cultists, Religion, Philosophy, Fiction[/tags]

3 thoughts on “Bad Journalist

  1. Pingback: Why Dont You Blog? : Oddness of Faith

  2. After the show has run I agree that the noise about it was far too high. Sweeney’s operating basis seems to be like this:

    • Find a few naysayers on the Internet, interview them for some juicy, if unsubstantiated allegations.
    • Take the claims that can now be attributed to a source and then repeatedly ask “questions” of your “target” prefaced with “Some people say….”
    • It’s a job made easy when the topic is something people aren’t familiar with, but would be merely ridiculous otherwise.

    A simple example proves the point: look up an anti-semitic website, interview the people who make the outrageous claims and then seek out Jews to ask each one “some people say you control all the commerce and banking in the world”, or “some people say you are the messengers of the devil,” or “some people say all Jews are greedy, selfish criminals.” Don’t bother to look at the practices or activities of the Jews, just fire away with the accusations. Of course, the vast majority of the population seeing this would dismisses it as the most vile sort of propaganda. Yet, this is precisely what Sweeney and Mole did with the Scientology program. They did get a reaction.

    What they didn’t get was a story that enlightened anyone. I do understand why Scientology employed their own investigative reporters and published their own program now.

  3. Off topic, but still “mind control”.
    I wrote some interesting info about “mind control” harassment by neighborhood activists back in 2001. It is archived in some places. To find it Google: “Von Kidd” “Mind control”. In the results the one at is heavily edited, the one at Topica directory is not.
    The info about how the perps hide their signal is incorrect. Some of the links don’t work anymore, use the link’s topic as a search term. All the info from the links and more -including reliable, verifiable documentation from the media- is at: WantToKnow.Info. On their topic bar click mind control.

    In Freedom and Liberty,

    Von Kidd

Comments are closed.