Nightline's Scientology Scuffle

Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis gets grilled

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Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis has, to put it euphemistically, a testy relationship with journalists. During the filming of a BBC investigation, for example, he drove reporter John Sweeney to a shrieking fit. But on Friday, the dynamic was reversed. It was ABC Nightline reporter Martin Bashir who started it, hounding Davis with the question: "Do you believe that a galactic emperor called Xenu brought his people to earth 75 million years ago and buried them in volcanoes?" When Bashir persisted, Davis yanked his microphone and stormed off the set. Since then, Davis has apparently returned to ABC headquarters in New York when the interview was about to be aired, presumably to halt the program, and was sent packing by network security.

Entertainment and gossip bloggers are going to town:

  • 'Do You Guys Believe This Crazy Shit?' It's "a very simple question," writes Gawker's Foster Kamer. "Why would Davis stomp off? Bashir wasn't asking him to explain Xenu, or justify Xenu, or even to provide context around Xenu. All he was asking was: ... Is this part of your religion?" He doesn't stop there:
How is that an unfair line of inquiry? That's like feigning indignation at a line of inquiry asking whether or not Jews have horns. How can you? Of course we don't, you moron! But if we do, well, it's not a silly question, is it? Is it?!?
  • What Might Have Been the Problem Actually, Zeke Turner writes at Mediaite, it's not a simple question. "Bashir was asking about a part of Scientology scripture derived from the writings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and kept secret from the non-Scientologist public and even some Scientologists who don't rank high enough, we think."
  • 'We're Kind of Starting to Like This Guy,' says New York Magazine's Lindsay Robertson. She's not sure whether the offensive tidbit was that "Xenu costs money or Xenu doesn't like to be talked about," but she's growing fond of this "elegantly coiffed smug little man of indeterminately Botoxed age" he's got stumping for him.
  • 'Creepy McReminds-Me-Of-Tom-Cruise,' notes Gawker's Ephraim Gadsby, didn't actually deny the Xenu allegations "because they're probably true." He wonders how Davis dealt with his bad day, given that "senior church members probably aren't allowed to savagely beat junior minions any more."
  • My Religion Is Way Cooler A New York Magazine commenter named Rebecca says she "do[es] not like to be dismissive of any religion, even this one. Hey, in mine, a dude walks on water, makes 5 loaves of bread feed 5000 and also does this totally awesome thing where he comes back from the dead. Yeah, he was so rad..."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.