Questions for Janet Reitman - 2011-07-08
Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman didn't know much about Scientology when she started researching the religion back in 2005 for the magazine. Since her original article, "Inside Scientology," ran in March of 2006, Reitman has spent more than five years researching the history of the church and its mercurial founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The result is Reitman's meaty, engaging new book Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion. Reitman came to the Slate offices for an hour-long chat about Scientology's current, controversial leader, David Miscavige; the church's celebrity marketing strategy; and the impressive poise of children who attend Scientology-based schools.
Slate: Many journalists who have covered Scientology in the past—like Paulette Cooper, who wrote about the church in the '60s and '70s—said that they were harassed, and some have been sued by the church. Did you ever encounter any intimidation? Were you wary of taking on this topic?
Janet Reitman: When I started doing the Rolling Stone story, I was the most clueless person when it came to Scientology. I had no idea how litigious they had been, so I wasn't scared of that initially. What I encountered was a phone call made from a very well-known scientologist to my top editor saying some things about me, trying to discredit me. I don't know what was said, but whatever was said didn't work.