February 23, 2015
HBO Documentary Films
Home Box Office, Inc.
Re: Jennifer Linson
We serve as litigation counsel for the Church of Scientology International (“CSI”) and its staff member Jennifer Linson. Ms. Linson has dedicated her adult life to her faith—the Church of Scientology—where she has been a member of the Church’s religious order, the Sea Organization, for nearly 30 years.
HBO has screened a documentary derived in substantial part from the error-laden book by Lawrence Wright on Scientology. In the documentary, Alex Gibney airs false allegations about Ms. Linson and has edited an interview Ms. Linson did with Anderson Cooper in 2010, omitting much of what she had to say and switching the sequence of her interview to provide a false impression of her truthfulness.
Alex Gibney refused to meet with the Church and when Ms. Linson flew to New York last month to attempt to meet with him and provide substantial information regarding the unreliability of his sources, most especially her former husband Tom DeVocht, HBO joined Mr. Gibney in refusing to hear the truth. Given that HBO knew that Ms. Linson is included in Mr. Gibney’s film, it is simple shoddy journalism and a disinterest in the truth that motivated the deviation from the routine journalistic practice of speaking with those depicted in a documentary to ensure that which is portrayed is true.
Ms. Linson is certain that her ex-husband and the “amen chorus” of other Church attackers share the ignominy of the once-involved who have lost position and seek to regain attention by saying anything that they can to get attention. HBO viewers are entitled to know this truth. You have already been provided information of Mr. De Vocht' s malfeasance as a construction supervisor in the Church and his admission to being a serial liar, which led to De Vocht' s expulsion a decade ago. Ms. Linson knows all about Mr. De Vocht and could not be more relevant in explaining his unreliability because she was on the scene as either Mr. DeVocht’s equal or superior in authority in the Church. In addition to his exceedingly bad behavior as a husband, Ms. Linson is aware and expects HBO viewers would want to know about Mr. DeVocht’s abusive behavior toward Church colleagues while he was in the Church, and why so many have negative things to say about him. The fact that Ms. Linson possessed such information and was prepared to share it was obviously known to both Mr. Gibney and to HBO. What reason would a journalist and a network genuinely concerned with truthfulness and not “truthiness” have for not hearing out Ms. Linson? To ask the question is to answer it.
Similarly, Ms. Linson would have explained as a matter of fact why Mike Rinder, a Gibney source encouraged by the HBO airing to say things that he knows to be false, lied about her having received an instruction from the Church about what to say in her CNN interview. First, of course, no such instruction was given and as a simple factual matter Rinder’s statements were false. More obviously, however, Mr. Rinder who had been out of the Church and living his hand-to-mouth existence supporting himself only by attacking the Church and then trying to unsuccessfully compete with it, was in no position to know anything about Ms. Linson’s discussions with anyone. Even a cursory examination of the time line would have made it clear to any honest journalist and broadcast network serious about truth-telling that Mr. Rinder’s statements could not have been based on any bona fide information. Quite simply Mr. Rinder made up a conversation that never occurred and HBO allows him to present it to the public as though it had. HBO should be ashamed of itself.
The lies, however, do not end with imaginary conversations. Doubling down on his lie, the HBO documentary alleges that Ms. Linson was released from and then returned to a “prison camp.” The entire story is a lie.
The truth is that Mr. Gibney was committed to a narrative that is not true but is sensational and attention-getting. It is also true that HBO by its actions aided and abetted this journalistic misconduct and seeks to reap the financial benefit from such. HBO should revoke its licenses to Mr. De Vocht to air lies and to Mr. Rinder to malign Ms. Linson when readily available evidence demonstrates that what each said about her was untrue.
Ms. Linson demands that HBO delete the false representations regarding Ms. Linson made by her ex-husband, Tom De Vocht and Mike Rinder and cease and desist from further dissemination of these falsehoods.
All rights are reserved.
Bert H. Deixler