A Truly Unoriginal Vanity Fair Con Job a/k/a Running Away from the Truth

Investigation Discovery is tabloid television at its worst, airing sleaze like “Let’s Kill Mom,” “Wives With Knives” and “Southern Fried Homicide.” “Vanity Fair Confidential” is no different. When they attempted to do an episode on Scientology, all they could do is make up a false story. They even admitted in the episode that they have no evidence or story, which was obvious to us by their refusal over six months to meet with the Church and be shown the truth. The common thread with this and other anti-Scientology shows is they sell propaganda for cash at the expense of facts and truth.

A dishonest rehash of stale tabloid trash, the show is the product of a production company that laughably calls itself Truly Original when there’s nothing original about it. Licensing the name of the deeply troubled Vanity Fair magazine is a pathetic attempt to purchase phony cachet.

Vanity Fair Con Job’s latest attempt to troll for ratings involves inventing out of whole cloth a dishonest episode whose only goal was to harass the Church and its ecclesiastical leader. For six months Truly Unoriginal producers ignored dozens of efforts by the Church offering to provide facts, law enforcement reports and testimonials that any honest producer would quickly see undermined the entire premise of their preconceived show.

What is staggering is how far a TV production company and a sleazy cable network will go to air propaganda they know is false, and to put people on the air who are known and proven liars.

Tellingly, the show itself sneaks in a disclaimer at the end that all but admits they had no story and no evidence. In other words, the program was built on a teetering foundation of innuendo in lieu of facts.

Truly Unoriginal’s partner in sleaze is ID TV, Investigation Discovery, which is more like HIDE TV given how far its cowardly executives went to hide in their offices rather than give the Church even an hour of their time. It’s owned by Discovery Communications, a once- respected channel that has fully gone down the tabloid rabbit hole never to be seen again.

When one of their film crews shooting outside a Church was asked politely what show they were working on, the crew claimed it was for a program called “Hack My Life” rather than admit the truth. It was only later that the truth came out, when one crew member let it slip that he was working on a Vanity Fair Confidential episode.

Heaven forbid the production company would ever reach out and be honest and direct with the Church on a program months in the making. A Church spokesperson immediately called the production company to inquire what the program was about and assist in making it accurate.

The production company—true to its unoriginal name—didn’t like that it had been exposed by one of its crew and didn’t return calls until pressed to do so. The Church learned the episode was intended to be a rehash of a tabloid story fully debunked by the Los Angeles Police Department more than four years earlier. Asked what the “new” story would be—as the earlier one had been thoroughly discredited by law enforcement—Executive Producer Stephanya Bareham promised to reach out to the research team, get a better sense of the people they are talking to and get back to [the Church].”

Stephanya Bareham, Executive Producer, Glenda Hersh, Co-CEO, Steven Weinstock, Co-CEO, Truly Original

Of course, she never did. So, within days, the Church fired off a letter asking what was being done and added, “Please don’t play games. I reached out to you hoping your organization would be honest and forthcoming.”

With no substantive response, Church counsel stepped in, informing the production company of their ethical and journalistic responsibility to tell the Church what they were doing and give the Church a “meaningful chance to respond.” Church lawyers proposed a meeting and reminded the production company that such would demonstrate its “commitment to the truth…”—words that fell on deaf ears.

Yet the Church was willing to provide other “important information, including court documents and law enforcement data that expose the premise of the presumed episode as false.”

Despite repeated nudges, the only real sound for weeks and weeks was a cowardly silence.

Looking at a production company that might go rogue, a Church spokesperson called and reached Senior Vice President for Production Sara Kozak, explaining she will fly on a redeye to present information if Kozak will meet with her. Kozak says she will get in touch with her superiors immediately and “I will get back to you. I promise.”

The “promise” turns out to be a lie, as Kozak never returned another call.

Church attorneys then reached out to the General Manager urging a meeting: “The Church has documents and eyewitnesses that prove the premise of your program is false. Accordingly, IDTV will greatly benefit from a meeting with the Church before it broadcasts the segment.”

Allison Emmett, VP Business & Legal, Truly Original and Wook Hwang, Outside Counsel for Truly Original

That’s when things really turned surreal. With silence echoing from the production company to their cable distributor, an outside lawyer representing the production company suddenly complained that Church requests to meet so that the program would be accurate was “on impossibly short notice.” In other words, after seeking a meeting for three weeks and previously seeking any answer from the production company for months, all this attorney could do to excuse the production company’s refusal to look at facts was the ridiculous excuse that it had all been on “short notice.”

Efforts to reach the cable network were futile. No call back from Group President Henry Schleiff. No calls from anyone in HIDE TV, because when you dwell in the world of tabloid sleaze, the truth is irrelevant.

Instead, Discovery declined to meet, and in doing so, declined to at least meet the minimum standards of fairness which countless actual networks and news organizations—who are not sleaze peddlers like ID TV—have done because they understand the journalistic obligation to be accurate.

A direct visit asking for a response gets a letter complaining that the production company didn’t want to hear from the Church.

So Church lawyers and counsel for the ecclesiastical leader once more went back to the production company. Informing the production company lawyer that eyewitnesses can be flown to New York on a moment’s notice was greeted with arrogant rudeness:

Emails unanswered…

Letters ignored…

Phone messages not returned…

A personal visit to the law office graciously accepted by a receptionist, but not by the lawyer.

A direct visit asking for a response got a letter complaining that the production company didn’t want to hear from the Church about a program containing defamatory, discredited claims. Who does that?

That’s when Church executives decided enough is enough. Having now confirmed just how absurd the contents of the program was, lawyers for the Church and its executives fired off letters exposing the program as false and defamatory, laying out the show’s lies in extensive detail through:

…Court records…

…Law enforcement reports…

…Video footage from the network’s own prized source…

… and other indisputable facts that the entire story was a work of fiction.

They also had in their possession information showing the episode’s prime source, author of the original discredited article, Ned Zeman, is openly hostile to the Church. Zeman has a history of mental problems so severe he wrote a book about it and has become an outspoken advocate for barbaric electroconvulsive therapy (ECT or shock therapy) vehemently opposed by the Church as inhumane mental-health abuse.

“…extreme bias not disclosed”—Letter from Church counsel to outside counsel for Truly Original, March 6, 2018.

All that was left for the production company and cable network to do was to stonewall.

The entire process was like a bizarre game. The network wouldn’t cope with the facts. The production company and its blustery outside counsel, Wook Hwang, stiff-armed the Church’s efforts to get evidence into the hands of the producers.

None of them would answer the simple, fundamental question—why were they so unwilling to let the Church guide them to the truth.

Sound outrageous?

The answer is, nothing is too outrageous and dishonest for an unoriginal production company and obscure cable network whose “true crime” involves butchering the truth.


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