Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
From: davidb@caen.engin.umich.edu (David Bonnell)
Subject: The Story That TIME Couldn't Tell - article 2
Message-ID: <13f_t9-@engin.umich.edu>
Date: Sat, 09 Nov 91 18:28:31 EST
Organization: The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Slanted Journalism for Unstated Motives: Fact vs. Fiction

The May 6, 1991 issue of TIME magazine presents a vitriolic, sensationalized attack upon the Scientology religion, its practices, its Founder, it leaders and its parishoners. In the style of a supermarket tabloid, correspondent Richard Behar and the editors of TIME portray Scientology as a greed-motivated scheme to victimize a gullible public through false promises of spirital enlightenment. TIME, however, made no pretense of balance in its presentation. Indeed, TIME's failure even to construct a facade of objectivity led one of its readers to write that TIME's "inability to find anything good to say about a rapidly growing international organization with thousands of members...leads me to conclude that this is a case of slanted journalism for unstated motives." That cogent observation precisely identifies the fatal flaw of TIME's compendium of falsehood, rumor and innuendo concerning Scientology. And, like most attacks which are not motivated by something other than the truth, TIME's article cannot withstand a frank confrontation with fact. Justice Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court once remarked that "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." It is appropriate to focus the sunlight of truth on TIME's accusations and to watch them wither from that exposure."

TIME'S $500 MILLION "MISTAKE". At its heart, TIME's article is a string of false and unsubstantiated accusations masquerading as journalism. An accusation, however is only as good as the facts that support it, and the dearth of factul data in the TIME article is an indictment of its accuracy all by itself. One the few occasions when TIME attempts to deal in facts, rather than innuendo, its efforts reveal that the truth was an inconveinience, ill-suited to the condemnation TIME set out to produce. Case in point. TIME's only reference to data provided by any Scientology entity to support the articles central contention that greed rather than human betterment is the religion's driving force is the statement that "In a court filing...the Church of Spiritual Technology [A Scientology Church] listed $503 million income just for 1987." It is from that single statement that all of TIME's money-motivation accusations emanate. That statement is false. The only court filing that the Church of Spiritual technology has EVER made which reflects its financial condition listed its 1987 income as $4 million, NOT $503 million. TIME only missed by half a billion dollars. That half a billion dollar discrepancy should not be confused with inadvertence. The court documents in question are neither confusing nor complex. Moreover, TIME's correspondent Behar is formerly a Forbes magazine correspondent, well versed in financial jargon and experienced in reporting on financial matters. A seasoned financial reporter does not make a 500 million dollar errors in relating what a straightforward document says. A seasoned financial reporter also recognized that $4 million in income for a large corporation will not support allegations of greed and avarice. A seasoned financial reporter with any objectivity would also realize that this is hardly newsworthy when the assets of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles total $3 billion and whose annual budget is $295 million. The Church furnished TIME's attorneys witha copy of the court record in question. TIME's reaction, communicated by its counsel, Harry Johnston, was that TIME is "comfortable" with the $500 million discrepancy. In other words, TIME is "comfortable" with the falsity of the only verifiable "fact" it offers in support of its systematic assault upon the integrity of a religion. Imagine how "confortable" TIME must be in making the charges against Scientology that it does not even pretend to support with "fact."

JAILHOUSE JOURNALISM. Factual manipulation, whether by twisting the truth or by omitting the truth, is the manipulator's admission that he is unreliable and unworthy of trust or belief. TIME's Behar has made just such an admission by manipulating the facts surrounding Steve Fishman's to tar Scientology with Fishman's crimes. TIME's account of the Fishman saga is Behar's confession that his words are unworthy of trust or belief. Steve Fishman is an a federal peniteniary. He is serving time after pleading guilty to mail fraud, to improperly joining in class action lawsuits to share in settlements he was not entitled to, and to obstructing justice by concocting a false "extortion" scam for mail fraud. In the TIME article, Behar neglects to mention Fishman's guilty pleas to the mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges. He does, however, intimate that the Church of Scientology was behind Fishman's criminal conduct, an innuendo that would have been impossible if any reference to the mail fraud or obstruction of justice convictions had been included. Steve Fishman pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges after federal authorities caught him and an accomplice falsely trying to blame the Church of Scientology for "extorting" him into committing the mail fraud and false joinder in settlement crimes. That's what the court records show. Steve Fishman pleaded guilty to falsely trying to shift reponsibilty for his own criminal acts to the Church of Scientology. TIME and Behar magnanimously report that "Scientology denies any tie to the Fishman scam, a claim strongly disputed by Fishman..." NO one ever accused Scientology of any connection to that scam except Fishman (and now TIME) and that very accusation led to Fishman's conviction. If Behar and TIME made any reference to Fishman's guilty plea they could not have smeared the Church with the insinuation of complicity in Fishman's criminal scheme. That omission is really an admission by TIME and its reporter that since facts do not exist to support allegations of Church wrongdoing, the facts have to be manipulated to create a false impression. No one needs to manipulate facts to portray the truth; facts only have to be manipulated to support a lie. TIME's exercise in jailhouse journalism is a confession that Behar's article of Scientology is completely unreliable.

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