The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Scientology ‘Advertorial’ Scandal Exposes Atlantic Executive as Truthless Swine

Posted on | January 19, 2013 | 15 Comments

If nothing else, the past week has made clear that The Atlantic‘s president, M. Scott Havens, is an unethical scoundrel who cannot be trusted in the vicinity of anything purporting to be “journalism.”

Monday, The Atlantic embarrassed itself by publishing a glowing “sponsored content” article that heaped praise on the leadership of the Scientology cult. This ludicrous “advertorial” got yanked within 12 hours, after exposing the once-reputable Atlantic to vicious (and inarguably well deserved) ridicule, including a dead-on parody by The Onion: “The Taliban Is A Vibrant And Thriving Political Movement.”

The motives of the Scientology cultists were clear enough: A shocking exposé was coming out (Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Lawrence Wright), so they were buying some public-relations damage control with this “article” at a prestigious journal.

Unfortunately for the Scientology swindlers, that backfired disastrously and the “sponsored content” scandal led to a “Streisand Effect” that actually increased scrutiny of the ripoff science fiction cult. Going Clear is now the No. 1 bestseller among religion books at Amazon, and No. 5 overall. The surge of media attention has also boosted sales of Janet Reitman’s 2011 book Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion, as well as advance sales of the soon-to-be-released Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, a tell-all memoir by Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige.

This negative publicity backlash has also damaged The Atlantic‘s upscale brand, and that damage is likely to be made worse by the attempt of the magazine’s top executive to talk his way out of this humiliation. Late Friday, M. Scott Havens sent out a company-wide memo that was immediately leaked to media watchdog Jim Romenesko. The memo was crammed with dishonest doubletalk like this:

We ran a “native advertising” campaign for a new advertiser that, while properly labeled as Sponsor Content, was in my opinion inconsistent with the strategy and philosophy for which this program is intended. In this case, we did not adequately work with the advertiser to create a content program that was in line with our brand. In addition, because we had not fully thought through the issues around commenting on Sponsor Content, we made some mistakes trying to moderate the commenting thread. The general media climate also played a role here.
Once these issues came to light and I had the opportunity to assess the campaign, I made the decision to suspend it pending further review. To be clear, our decision to pull the campaign should not be interpreted as passing judgment on the advertiser as an organization. Where I believe we erred was in the execution of the campaign.

Upon reading that self-serving heap of bullshit, one hopes, the entire staff of The Atlantic replied by e-mail with two weeks’ notice.

Havens is a lying pimp who treats his employees like dishonest whores.

(Via MediaGazer.)

 

 

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Comments

  • JeffS

    Stacy, you are certainly giving the benefit of the doubt to Atlantic employees by suggesting that they are merely treated like “dishonest whores”.

    Given the state of the media these days, it’s entirely possible that the majority of them ARE dishonest whores.

  • http://twitter.com/dustbury Charles G Hill

    The decline of The Atlantic began with the death of Michael Kelly in Iraq and accelerated when they gave Andrew Sullivan (!) a cover story that turned out to be six pages of fulminations in Sully’s classic stream-of-unconsciousness “style.”

  • Type4

    As a former Scientologist and knowing what that organization is all about, I greatly appreciate you covering stories about them.

    Hubbard, in my opinion, is one of the greatest con-artists of the past century. His organization needs to be exposed for what it really is.

  • robertstacymccain

    They are following the same path trod by the Los Angeles Times, which sold its soul in the Staples Center “profit-sharing” scam.

    People have to make choices in their careers, and sometimes the most important thing a journalist can do for his profession is to tender his resignation. There are simply some people you never want to work for, and Scott Havens just added his name to that list.

  • Steve Skubinna

    Hahahaha HARHARHAR haw haw snort gasp choke… poor dumb bastards.

    Anyway, would you prefer they be truthful swine? What are the odds of that happening?

  • Steve Skubinna

    Honest whores wouldn’t be caught dead practicing journalism. Seriously, there are some things a twenty dollar crack whore just won’t do.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    The Master will not get big exposure, but (while a fictional story) it does give a good idea of how creepy L. Ron Hubbard really was.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Yes indeed! RIP Michael Kelly.

  • SDN

    There is a possibly apocryphal account of a Scientologist looking for converts at a science-fiction convention… until she encountered L Sprague DeCamp who informed her that he had known L Ron Hubbard “when he was a small-time crook!”

  • AnonymousDrivel

    “To be clear, our decision to pull the campaign should not be interpreted as passing judgment on the advertiser as an organization.”

    That’s a pretty long-winded way to say, “Please, please, please send us ad money again, Mr. Miscavige!”

  • M. Thompson

    DeCamp. Never one of the top flight guys, but by god, I’d have loved to get him going on something. He got Harry Turtledove interested in Byzantine history of all things.

  • http://twitter.com/richard_mcenroe richard mcenroe

    Look, just about everybody knows Scientology is a cheap hustle but when are we going to do something about the fraud that is the Atlantic magazine?

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