Freedom Magazine's Joe Taglieri followed Tony Ortega and his mother

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Mar 10, 2016.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Joe Taglieri has been mentioned here before. Here's a shortened version of a post from October 7, 2015:

    The complete post is here:

    The article it references is here:

    Now we move back to the present. This morning, Tony Ortega mentioned Joe Taglieri in this report:

    Reporter’s notebook: Scientology’s latest intimidation attempt is sadly familiar

    Here are three excerpts:

    According to one email from Freedom‘s publicist to a church member that was forwarded to us, the Freedom crew were supposedly working on a new issue that would take aim at Leah Remini, Chris Shelton, and yours truly. We didn’t know if this was actually the case, but it did seem interesting to think that Miscavige had apparently tired of the brief attempt to make Freedom seem legit. Was he preparing to go back to using the publication as a smear machine?

    Well, yesterday we may have received our answer. At about 8:30 in the morning, as we were beginning to get ready for the day, the phone in our West Hollywood hotel room rang.

    The caller identified himself as Joe Taglieri with Freedom magazine, and he said that he was working on a story about us.

    We laughed and asked him what had happened to the magazine — why no issues since September? He said the publication was being “revamped,” and then he asked us his first question.

    Why, he wanted to know, had we attended Monday night’s meeting of the Chino Valley Unified School District?


    On Friday, we learned that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John P. Doyle had, at the last minute, postponed Monday’s scheduled hearing in Laura DeCrescenzo’s seven-year forced-abortion lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. It was a major hearing, to consider Scientology’s latest motion for summary judgment, and we planned to surprise our readers by showing up Monday morning to blog it live, just like we did the last time a motion for summary judgment was heard in the case, in 2013.

    But Judge Doyle, who only inherited this lawsuit recently, apparently needed an additional month to prepare, and so he moved things back, and too late for us to change our flight, which was scheduled for Saturday.

    We were not happy about that. And, against our better judgment, we let that anger get the better of us and we said something about it in the comments section of Friday’s post.

    Now, it should not come as a shock to our readers that Scientology’s intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs, keeps a very close eye on this website. We discovered that was the case a couple of years ago at a court hearing in Texas, when a dozen Scientology attorneys showed up with box after box filled with binders which turned out to contain copies of every page from the blogs written by both Marty Rathbun and your proprietor, including all of the comments, printed out and highlighted. We know this because many of those printed pages became exhibits in that court case, and were also projected on a screen in open court.

    The sheer man-hours which must have been expended to watch this website at that level was truly astonishing.

    We have long been aware of this, and yet, we made the mistake of grousing this past Friday that it was too late to change our flight after Judge Doyle had moved the court hearing. We had broken our rule of keeping quiet about our travel plans. (Yes, we also violated that rule last year when we announced a book tour, and we knew we were taking a chance then. But we also knew we didn’t really have a choice about that.)

    We know now that Scientology took advantage of Friday’s slip-up to put us under surveillance during our trip to Los Angeles. And Mr. Taglieri, Freedom magazine correspondent, was cluing us into that in the creepiest way possible. He did that by informing us that once again your proprietor’s mother had come under surveillance.

    If you’ve seen Going Clear, you know that Alex Gibney asks us at one point if we’d been subjected to Scientology’s dirty tricks. Usually, we try to avoid that question. We report on Scientology because it fascinates us. We were never a member of the organization, and we have no stake in whether it thrives or not. We report on it every day because we enjoy having a front-row seat as Scientology goes through one of its most challenging periods. We do our best, then, to ignore the scummy things Scientology’s private eyes have thrown our way, and we try not to make it part of the story.

    But this was Alex Gibney asking the question, so we felt obliged to answer. In the film, you see us say that Scientology’s chief dirty tricks private eye had twice showed up unannounced at the front door of our mother’s house. She lives in Chino, California, and she is very supportive of what we do. But both of those visits were confusing and upsetting for her, which were also upsetting for us. And that’s the point. Scientology knew it probably wouldn’t get any worthwhile information from our mother, it just wanted to spread fear and confusion and a feeling of dread among the people we care about. That’s just what Scientology does.

    Mom’s a trooper, however, and she shook off those visits. We were looking forward to seeing her on this short trip, and since the court hearing had been cancelled on Monday, we had some extra time to spend with her. As for what to do that day, she told us she and our stepfather were planning on going to an interesting local hearing and did we want to come?

    You see, it turns out that the local school board there, the Chino Valley Unified School District, is rather notorious. Three members of its board are affiliated with a local holy-roller church that considers it their duty to inject religion into the local public schools. The three board members were not only starting meetings with a prayer, but were also openly proselytizing during the meetings themselves, to the point that a federal judge recently ordered them to knock it off. But the school board was now going to announce at its Monday meeting that it had hired a legal firm in order to pursue an appeal of that order.

    Your proprietor’s mother and stepdad, being separation-of-church-and-state types, thought it might be fun to watch. And we heartily agreed. But when we got there, it was ludicrously overcrowded. Probably on purpose, the board had scheduled its meeting in a tiny room that had only about 30 seats. But something like 300 people had showed up, many of them carrying signs that read “Pray!” to encourage the board. Stuck in an overflow room where we couldn’t hear a thing, we decided it was worthless to stay, and so we pushed slowly through the huge crowd and then went home.

    And that’s it.

    But apparently, when David Miscavige and his Office of Special Affairs heard from their private eyes who must have been following us that we’d gone to the meeting, it confused and surprised them so much, they took the very unusual step of having their reporter call us directly.

    “They were probably just letting you know that they’re watching you, but I think they were also really freaked out that you went to that meeting,” Mike Rinder tells us. Rinder was not only once the Church of Scientology’s spokesman, he also ran the Office of Special Affairs. “They couldn’t figure out what you were doing there and it probably drove them crazy. That’s pretty obvious.”

    We can just see the geniuses at OSA. Ortega! And his mother! At a controversial school board meeting! What could they possibly be up to?

    And of course, Taglieri was asking us in the most leading way possible, as an accusation implying that we were up to no good. Why won’t you answer the question, he said, after he’d asked it a few times.
    Of course, the reason why we’d gone to that meeting was none of Scientology’s business (and completely uncontroversial), and anyway, we had questions of our own.

    We managed to get out of Taglieri that before he’d been put on Scientology’s payroll he’d written stories for the National Catholic Reporter, for Patch, and for something called Arcadia Weekly. And it turned out his name was familiar. He was the same Freedom reporter that Alex Gibney had warned his friends about on Twitter last September.


    We doubt that Taglieri was really very interested in our answers. He’d already delivered his message — that private investigators had been watching our mother’s house and had followed us on Monday to the Chino school meeting, and that they had also figured out which room we were staying in at our West Hollywood hotel. (We figured a hotel room was a good idea for our last night in town, during which we had a lovely dinner with our LipTV colleagues that featured several bottles of really good wine. We didn’t want to be driving anywhere.)

    Well, Taglieri, message delivered: You work for creeps. Good luck with that.

    The complete article, with open comments, is here:
    • Like Like x 5
  2. sallysock Member

    Somewhat related.

    Joe at 3:38
    • Like Like x 1
  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    ‘Freedom’ magazine is back after a six-month absence, and it arrived with a surprise!

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, May 11, 2016

    We started hearing from readers in late April that a new issue of Scientology’s propaganda magazine, Freedom, had appeared. One of our readers even sent us scans of the new issue (and thank you very much!).

    But for some reason, the Freedom website was unchanged, and it stayed that way — until yesterday.

    Finally, for the first time since September, Freedom has a new issue online. We keep an eye on Freedom for several reasons, not the least of which are personal ones.

    Freedom has been through big changes in the last few years, which we always find intriguing. The publication went through a significant rebirth in 2013, with former Tampa Weekly Planet editor John Sugg hired to run a Florida edition of the magazine out of Clearwater, and one of Sugg’s former Weekly Planet staff writers, Jennifer Lankheim, hired to edit Freedom‘s flagship international edition out of Los Angeles.

    They brought in several staff writers and freelancers, and for more than a year they put out a sober and earnest monthly glossy that took on the important issues of the day. Sure, there were brief flashes of the older, attack-dog Freedom, particularly in some of the media pieces by writer Dan Luzadder. (Dan once told us he was going to prove to the world that Lawrence Wright did no research for his epic Scientology history, Going Clear. Good luck with that, Dan.)

    Meanwhile, at its website, Freedom shared space with Scientology’s really over-the-top attacks on Alex Gibney’s documentary based on Wright’s book. You probably managed to see some of the videos that not only targeted Gibney, but also some of the people who appear in the film, including Mike Rinder and Sara Goldberg.

    Then, after the September 2015 issue, the print publication went dark and its website stopped adding updates without any explanation.

    Was Scientology leader David Miscavige giving up on his new experiment of an earnest Freedom magazine? Was it returning to its goofier “Posse of Lunatics” days?

    Well, now we have only a partial answer, and even more questions.

    The new issue is dated “April/May,” which suggests that the publication is coming back at only six times a year. As for its content, it’s the same earnest hand-wringing over current events, in this case one of Scientology’s pet issues, drug abuse. It’s somehow even more dull than it was when it was coming out monthly last year.

    We checked the masthead right away, and got a bit of a surprise. Here’s the entire staff list:

    Executive Editor
    John F. Sugg

    Associate Editor/News
    Bruce Leonard

    Associate Editor/Investigations
    Dan Luzadder

    Associate Editor/Features
    Ajay Singh

    Sugg has apparently been promoted. But what happened to Lankheim? Is that what the six-month lag was about? Did she get the boot?

    (We sent her a message to her Facebook page when the print issue came out in April, but we haven’t received a reply.)

    On occasion, we hear from John Sugg’s former readers in the Atlanta and Tampa areas who are mystified that the former fiery alternative weekly editor is now taking a paycheck from Scientology. But there’s a new wrinkle we just learned about that we thought we’d share with you.

    Continued here:

    Here's a search for posts mentioning John Sugg here:"John+Sugg"
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  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    Join Freedom, travel the world, meet interesting people, and smear them

    By Tony Ortega, September 22, 2016


    Hey, Scientology is hiring! Although the ad at is pretty well camouflaged, one of our fellow reporter friends saw through it and tipped us off about it. Take a look at the language and you’ll see what we mean: David Miscavige is paying top dollar to fill his Freedom magazine offices at the new Scientology Media Productions studio in Los Angeles:

    We are an international publisher. We have established magazines and online distribution; we are ramping up broadcasting and additonal [sic] online dimensions of our news products. We are based in California, and have offices elsewhere in the United States and Europe, and will be opening new offices across the globe. We have a religious aspect to what we do, and a definite point of view. You adjust to us, not the other way around. We uncover government and corporate corruption, investigate and explain major social issues. We love to expose bigotry, and racial, religious and ethnic hatred.

    We pay very well, but we aren’t looking for journalistic mercenaries. What we do seek are top-line investigative journalists and long-form journalism stylists who can produce content worthy of the best magazines. As we add to our online work, and as we develop major news broadcasting endeavors, we want content creators and managers who are versatile at multiple platforms.

    Heh. “You adjust to us, not the other way around.”

    Whatever you say, C.O.B., sir!

    • Like Like x 1
  5. GibbousWaxing Member

    You'd think ONE Scientologist in good standing would have journalism skills remembered from a previous life, wouldn't you? No adjustment necessary.

    In fact, I think several of them remember having been Mark Twain.
    • Like Like x 3

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