Mark Ebner on Scientology and South Park: Rathbun is Definitely Leaking Authentic "Intel"

MarkEbner.JPG
Ebner
Update: a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.

As we continue to investigate Scientology's retaliation campaign against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and their friends and employees, we remembered that an old colleague of ours, journalist Mark Ebner, worked with the animator duo for their infamous 2005 episode "Trapped in the Closet."

Ebner is important to this investigation for a couple of reasons. Not only did he work with Parker and Stone on the very episode that raised Scientology's hackles, but Ebner has himself been the subject of a concerted Scientology harassment campaign through its "Office of Special Affairs" -- and he learned about that campaign through a document leaked by former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun.

As we've written earlier, Mark Ebner has a long and illustrious track record reporting on the Church of Scientology. In particular, he is known for his 1996 Spy magazine adventure, for which he actually joined the church to go through its auditing and purification rundown in order to write about it.

It was that experience that the producers of South Park wanted to learn about when, In 2005, they prepared their own episode about the church. (As part of a gag, Ebner was credited along with everyone else who worked on the show as "John Smith" or "Jane Smith," in order to parody the idea that Scientology would sue the people who worked on it.)

Documents made public by former executive Marty Rathbun at his blog (and here at the Voice) show that in the Spring of 2006, Scientology's Office of Special Affairs hired private investigators to look into Parker and Stone's affairs, and to investigate their friends and employees.

In that same time frame, OSA was also investigating Mark Ebner. He knows this because Rathbun gave him an internal document dated March 27, 2006 which discussed Scientology's investigation of him. Ebner in turn gave the document to Gawker writer John Cook, who made it public this May.

"Ebner is part of a clique of low class writers/bloggers who hang out in the LA area," the document reads, and in creepy Scientology fashion, it implies that the church had recruited close friends or colleagues to spy on Ebner: "A media source who knows Ebner is checking into what Ebner is working on and for whom and another resource he knows is being lined up to contact him to pull strings on his relation with South Park."

Yesterday, after I asked him about his work with Parker and Stone, Ebner sent me this message:

Hey Tony -- As you may or may not know, I too have been (and still am) being investigated by OSA. In fact, my OSA file is published over at Gawker -- feel free to link for a comparison study to help prove that Rathbun is definitely leaking authentic Scientology "intel." Also feel free to post this response. I know Matt and Trey personally, and always get nostalgic this time of year for their discontinued Halloween parties. They stepped up in 2004 as "the South Park Republicans" for Hollywood, Interrupted (the book I did with Breitbart) to call out Hollywood for its political correctness, and to take a delicious shot at Rob Reiner for lobbying anti-smoking legislation (Matt and Trey don't smoke.) When I got the call from their producer (and friend) Jennifer Howell (named in the OSA doc), I was honored, if not downright giddy. I went down to South Park Studios in the evening and met with Matt, Trey, Jennifer Howell and Executive Producer Anne Garefino (also named) along with a couple of writers where they taped my monologue about how I joined Scientology for my Spy magazine story in '96 -- walking into a Personality Testing Center, etc. I was pleased that they used that template for the episode, but literally blown away by how far they took it: breaking down the super-secret OT III Xenu level into bite-sized animated chunks, with the refrain, "This is what Scientologists actually believe!" If that blew my mind, imagine the gaskets being blown at Scientology Inc., and at the heterosexual Tom Cruise's and South Park's parent studio, Paramount! So South Parkily subversive. And let's face it -- losing the late hot-buttered Scientologist Isaac Hayes was a small price to pay for the producing the most popular, and cult-damaging episode ever. Hell, they own the Chef's likeness and voice, so they can (and have) resurrect the character at will. Before the episode aired, Jennifer Howell called to ask me how I felt about taking a "John Smith" credit with everyone else associated, and I gladly went with the pack with that final fuck-you to the cult.

I've tried to reach Jennifer Howell, leaving her a message at 20th Century Fox Television, where she now works. She was named on the OSA document we made public Monday, along with other people who worked with Parker and Stone.

As Ebner points out, the OSA document that Rathbun leaked pertaining to his own experience checked out in all of its particulars. The South Park leak itself we have confirmed in part with yesterday's interview with Lloyd Kaufman. We will continue to look into the Scientology campaign against South Park, and in a few days, we expect to have more leaked documents from Marty Rathbun, this time dealing with a particular famous actor's role in the church's campaign against Parker and Stone.



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week] [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]


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49 comments
ThetaManisKing!
ThetaManisKing!

I am so upset, I have been told about this en-theta being written en-mass.I am so distraught! why are so many good americans buying into this Ortaga guy?? I am a full time 100% hatted Scientologist. What I see here is just grotesque. I was told "DO NOT VISIT RUNNING SCARED" and WOW now I see why!!. So many Religious Hypocrites and bigots under one roof, its amazing that you all have not killed each-other with all your hatred. What is it about my religion that you don't understand?? its not that difficult!! We have a complete set of religious tenants that we believe in, just like YOU, or any other religion. My faith is NO different than YOURS and you clowns know it.What is the problem with Mr.Hubbard?? you fuckers make him out to be a charlatan, Do you have any idea what a WONDERFUL Humanitarian and Leader of Man he was???No of course you do not!! You are listening to the religious bigots, like Mark Bunker and Marty Rathbun!!Why is it you can't believe us and our religious beliefs??? we are good helpful people, we help all, ALL disaster sites, hurricanes and earth-quakes!!We are the ONLY PEOPLE that can HELP!! WE are Scientologist we are the FUTURE !!JOIN US DONT FIGHT US....WE HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS....PLEASE, Join us at your local Ideal Org, or Church, or Mission...or just go on line to out Premier Web site WWW.Scientology.orgDo not believe these people, join us and be happy, join us and be happy, join us and be happy!!!

Tommy Davis
Tommy Davis

Hello? Hellooooo? If anybody can hear me, I've been locked in this very dark closet. Hello? Heber is that you? Shelly?? Arghhhh...Help! Gemme outta here! 

Graceaaron
Graceaaron

I wonder if Scientologists who work in Hollywood are called on the carpet if they work with people who have been banned from Scientology.  My husband and I have been the victims of the Scientology practice of 'disconnection' and know of people who have been pressured to 'disconnect' from co-workers.  I wonder how this effects people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta.  

Deanblair06
Deanblair06

The South Park episode about Xenu and OT 3 was and is extremely revealing however I don't understand why all of these people are being investigated five years after creating the South Park episode.  The episode above is on You Tube and can be watched anytime by anyone with a computer.  It is done and can not be stopped.  Why is OSA still spying on and trying to get dirt on these people?  This is truly a batshit crazy group of people.

Old OT7
Old OT7

We are all John and Jane Smiths! 

TheEviIOfScientology
TheEviIOfScientology

Can someone please wake Marcotai up? It's time he was here to roll out the "They're liars" line...

rosie
rosie

Let's also note that it was Mark with the assistance of others who was responsible for the Tom Cruise Video leaking to Gawker.  They not be liking that boy fer sure!

Andie
Andie

Thank you for doing a thorough job on this Tony! It's not difficult finding damaging rumors about Scientology these days. Confirming them though, that's a whole different thing!

mjm
mjm

" If that blew my mind, imagine the gaskets being blown at Scientology Inc., and at the heterosexual Tom Cruise's and South Park's parent studio, Paramount!"

replace heterosexual with flamingly gay. there's a reason he's doing a musical after MI:4.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Poe's law in action!  "Poe's Law is an axiom suggesting that it's difficult to distinguish between parodies of religious fundamentalism (or, more generally, parodies of any crackpot or extremist belief) and its genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane. For example, some conservatives consider noted homophobe Fred Phelps to be so over-the-top that they argue he's a "deep cover liberal" trying to discredit more mainstream homophobes"

If this is a parody, then ThetaMan is my hero. :-D On the other hand, if this really is the mad spewings of another batshit-crazy cultist, then it serves to reinforce just how insane this cult is - and how easily some weak-minded people can be brainwashed.

I hope ThetaMan will come back and let us know!

Old Timer
Old Timer

A "complete set of religious tenants"?!?! You're a laugh riot! LOL!!!

Guest
Guest

This is awesome!  Very funny, very well done.  

I love the "en-theta being written en-mass."  

Excellent parody!

Phanalia
Phanalia

I think this is a parody. I hope this is a parody. If not, Scientologists are in worse shape than we think.

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

ThetaManiaKing!

You are indulging in parody, I assume.

I am not a religious bigot. However, the CULT of Scientology really should inform those new to the scam that Aleister Crowley is responsible for a lot of the CULT's tech.

They might consider joining the O.T.O. instead, like little LRH did, so long ago.

Yeppir
Yeppir

That is just freaking sad. I'm sorry, but you are either a very excellent troll, in which case: LOFL, or you are truly brainwashed, in which case, I lack the skill set to assist you, my friend.

Please, no one here wants to hurt you. But also please recognize that your assertion that you are "the only people that can help" smacks of crazy and the very thing your cult says it's against: intolerance. There are as many paths to peace and solace and "help" (if you insist on using that phrase) as there are people on this earth. And truthfully, your "path" is deceitful and dishonest and robs folks of their free will.

You will not know that you have been brainwashed. Please just let that sink in for a while. You WILL NOT KNOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED.

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

"I am so upset"

Wonderful!

"I am so distraught!"

Excellent!

"What is the problem with Mr.Hubbard??"

He's dead but when he was alive, he was a lying sack of shit ® and all you have a key to is the shit house.

"Why is it you can't believe us and our religious beliefs???"

Your beliefs are science fiction at best and extreme fraud at worst.

Also Protip: it's not a religion. It's a cult and it's doomed. Expect it!

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

Somebody! Please! Get Tom outa the closet!

mooser42001
mooser42001

@Graceaaron  

Grace, it's pretty much like the electricity in your house. If you keep paying the bill, you won't get disconnected.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

The episode aired in November, 2005. The documents we've been releasing show that OSA was investigating in a big way in March-May 2006. We have not said that the investigation has gone on for five years. (Although Ebner says his is ongoing.)

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

They're not trying to get rid of the episode - that ship's sailed. At this point it's pure retaliation - something they have a long and tortured history in practicing. Why are they still harassing ANY of their detractors? Because that's what LRH told them to do - attack, never defend. Destroy your enemies, thoroughly and completely.

Hubbard wrote "People attack Scientology. I never forget it, always even the score."  Also: "The purpose is to harass and discourage rather than to win. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly"

Yeah, some religion, huh?

Guest
Guest

The founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, would not stop until every critic of his "church" was "destroyed."  That was his wish, and that was what he taught his parishioners.  Critics are sub-human--  murder would be justified in their minds, if it were only legal. 

It's only a matter of resources that prevents Scientology from trying to destroy EVERY critic, whether they were active 5 or 25 years ago.  

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

Come 'ere, pasta boy—it's time for your morning bitch-slap!

Anon A
Anon A

Marcotai, Miglio, Louanne, and the other Scientologiost post-bots are no doubt in a frenzy right now, trying to make their "stats" for this week look "up" before 2pm today.

It's going to be rough though, seeing all the "downstat" news burying Scientology this week.  They will no doubt try to center on the St Paul MN "Ideal Org" opening, but given the scant attendance there and all the commenters calling into question Scientology's usual lies about its membership numbers, I don't think it will do them much good.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Methinks Mark Ebner was using a bit of satire there, mjm.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Me too. Y'know what did it for me? It was the repeating of "join us and be happy, join us and be happy, join us and be happy!!" As I read that, I started feeling veeerrryyy sleeeeppyy...and next thing I knew, I was filling out a personality test in front of an bizarrely perky woman with a huge, pasted-on smile and creepy haunted eyes!

Old Timer
Old Timer

ThetaManIsKing is a parody. I'd be willing to bet he is an ex-Scieno.

MarkEbner
MarkEbner

Yep Tony, "ongoing" in the sense that the cult still employs PIs to do a horribly transparent job of staking out my house. The fat, lazy PIs billing hours for tax-free "church" dollars park directly across the street from my house, running surveillance from the most obvious vehicle imaginable - an unmarked white law enforcement-favored, late model Crown Vic. I usually just walk up to the driver's side and laugh long and loud in the PIs face, but next time I'll snap a photo for you.

AAA
AAA

They're seemingly illogical actions become understandable when you consider that revenge is a central tenet in Scientology's "religious" doctrine.

sketto
sketto

Just to underline your comment - L Ron Hubbard started this.

That warped tyrant Miscavige did not start this. Hubbard did. It has always been woven into the very fabric of Scientology itself. Removing of Miscavige will not stop this. Hubbard created this aggressiveness to be a part of Scientology from the very beginning. Miscavige is not the root of this evil; Hubbard is. Miscavige is just the best practitioner of it.

AAA
AAA

I noticed that somewhere around 50 to 100 comments were deleted from yesterday's article, the deletions seeming to center on Marcotai's numerous lame posts -- and their many responses.

Maybe this enforcement action should be taken as a suggestion to try to stay on-topic, and not get dragged into a never-ending joust match with someone who gets knocked down so easily.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Ebner has been spreading the rumor that Cruise is heterosexual for years. It's scandalous and absolutely disgusting!

Jgg
Jgg

  Amway / networking marketing companies are the same way.  Why are they so giddy?  They are convinced that they are about to become very rich (99.9% don't).  Most become disenchanted, but a few become lifers, convinced they found the "right compnay" despite failing to make money for 10 or 20 years.  The dream is addictive.

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

"Happy, happy, happy—all the time

Shock treatment, I'm doin' fine!"

Meet the new Marcotai, same as the old Marcotai!

I'm SSP—surpersuppresive. And out TENTs will Supress you [ organ stab ! ]

I'm OT64—you're just a jumble of typos, ain't 'cha MantisKing?

ThetaManisKing!
ThetaManisKing!

Old Timer,You mock us and lampoon us, but try as you might you will never drive us into oblivion!!! Yes, I misspelled a word Old timer, but that does not mean I have an MU..I understand completely the word and idea of Tenets ;Noun, a principle or belief, esp. one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy... You wish to think of Scietologists as ignorant and un-willing to view society as accepting. We view society as our future, it is our's to claim. We will bring all of the nations of the world together with the technology of the Great L.Ron Hubbard ..laugh as you might "old timer" (and your time is limited, unless you feel like joining us) but we can not be stopped by a group of children wearing halloween masks!! we have been hear longer than most of you have been alive..I am so glad I found this little clan of En-theta proponents, I know now where to find the suppressive people!! you all will either join us one day because you will understand our TENETS or we will wipe you out with out PTS-SP Tech..You dummys have heard of THAT!! it works and it will work on you!! I promise.Leave us alone and we will leave you alone!!Join us and be happy, join us and be happy!!

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

I was attempting to Emily Litella TMK into submission.

And I do believe the original post from the dude qualifies as parody.

Old Timer
Old Timer

I don't think so, robinlandseadel. He meant "tenets". What's a riot is how the brainwashed Sciloon doesn't apply Hubbard's "study tech", in particular, "word clearing". By his use of "tenants", ThetaManisKing has shown he clearly has an "MU" on the word "tenets". He might ask himself why this ol' SP is more literate than he is. After all, he's supposed to have the "correct technology" per KSW, and he's supposed to be a "homo novis". 

aaa
aaa

I thought those "unmarked police cars" were only supposed to be used when questioning neighbors and friends about a person's "crimes"  (though to be honest those old police cars can often be picked up pretty cheap at auction houses (they're usually driven into the ground).Funny how that PI seems to be content just sitting back and milking the cult's easy cash. (probably sends in a few videos to prove he's not a total leech)  Just a thought, but if this lazy P.I. is not "making your life living Hell" (as Dave Lubow instructs his hires) you might want to take a moment to think before publicizing the issue. They might fire that investigator and assign someone more like Lubow, who has been known for following people around everywhere and employing more mafia-like intimidation tactics like running cars off the road. And then there's the tried-and-true tactic of provoking a targeted person into responding and then going nuclear with legal action.  

sketto
sketto

Actually, I couldn't decide whether to say Miscavige was the best practitioner of Hubbard's bullshit or the worst practitioner of Hubbard's bullshit. It kinda works either way.

Jillim
Jillim

You said  "Miscavige is just the best practitioner of it"

I'm wondering, has anyone made an estimate of Miscavige's I.Q.??

We know he's not college educated, just wondering?

robinlandseadel
robinlandseadel

I count the number of comments for each blog post. I have not witnessed any deletions.

Irritating CO$ spokespeople is always on-topic, particularly in the case of Marcotai. The CO$ people think they are winning by all the hostility we display towards them. But they have honestly earned intense derision. And anyone who's not a Sci-Bot seems to understand.

In any case, the biggest blast of entheta I have witnessed so far is "Stuck in the Closet."

So I'm thoroughly "On-Topic."

"Sue me, I dare you!"

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