Synanon's Sober Utopia: How a Drug Rehab Program Became a Violent Cult - 2014-04-15
During the 1970s Synanon attracted a fair amount of attention from the media, though unlike the positive press it was getting in the 1960s for its drug rehab "successes," the coverage was overwhelmingly negative.
Major news networks had started slowly reporting on the organization, but much of the legwork that went into exposing Synanon as a violent cult was done by a tiny newspaper with a circulation of only about 1,700. The Point Reyes Light in Marin County was dogged in its pursuit of the Synanon story, which involved child abuse, wrongful imprisonment, assault and misappropriation of funds. Despite being constantly threatened for libel action, the paper didn't back down. The Light even won a Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for its reporting on the organization, something virtually unheard of for a paper of that size.
Members of Synanon didn't take kindly to the criticism. The group lashed out at anyone who dared question their organization; after an expose by NBC in 1978, members sent hundreds of ominous letters to NBC executives, threatening physical harm.