For background information on Tony Ortega, please visit The Cooked Story (especially this article, entitled “A Man of Secrets”), “Atheists or Religious Haters?”, and The Daily Cannibal. Please note that the information on these websites may be upsetting to some—the true facts that bigots like Tony Ortega, Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun, et al work so desperately to hide about themselves are nothing short of sickening and repulsive. The content on this page may be offensive to some. As such, discretion is strongly advised.
This is Part One of a series of articles covering the anti-religious extremism and hypocrisy of tabloid blogger Tony Ortega. This series continues with Part Two.
Tony Ortega is a freelance tabloid writer who has obsessively blogged about the Church of Scientology and its parishioners on a daily basis since 2008 when he still had a semi-legitimate job as the editor of The Village Voice. For those unfamiliar with Ortega and the comedy of errors that is his life, here is some basic info from a website that Ortega took legal action to get shut down.
Therein lies the irony. You see, Tony Ortega promotes himself as a man of the people, as someone who has sacrificed his money, health and well-being in fighting to destroy the Church of Scientology, and who has no secrets to hide. He has continually harassed, vilified and threatened Scientologists of all ages and from all walks of life, including children, going so far as to post personal and private details that he and his comrades dug up through dumpster diving and social engineering. He and his unemployed lawyer buddy Scott Pilutik have clearly watched Hackers one too many times. Fortunately for their victims, Ortega and his stooges aren’t very good at trying to emulate Eric Corley and the analog misfits of 2600 magazine.
Lately, Tony Ortega has become obsessed with Robert “Bob” Duggan, a veteran Scientologist who also happens to be a billionaire and one of the most successful investors and venture capitalists on Wall Street of the 2000s and 2010s. He’s the kind of amiable and high tone person who just about everyone likes, and not simply because of his vast wealth, but also his generous support for social betterment programs. But of course, with such enormous success there are going to be those vocal few who, out of jealousy and spite, will go to great lengths to attempt to tear down those hardworking souls who actually got somewhere in life, unlike themselves. They’re pathetic, and everybody knows it.
Tony Ortega, Scott Pilutik and their friends are exactly such pathetic individuals. Before Duggan, Pilutik and his radical atheist friend David Touretzky, were particularly obsessed with trying, for many years, to tear down Bryan Zwan and Sky Dayton. Obviously, they didn’t get very far at all with that, so in recent years they’ve focused their crosshairs on other wealthy and successful Scientologists.
[As an aside, it seems as though every anti-Scientologist bigot I encounter happens to be a pro-Zionist, anti-Arab, anti-Muslim agitator. I’ve long known about the close ties between anti-Muslim bigots with their anti-Scientology counterparts, but while most of the anti-Muslim crowd are ultraconservative Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christians and Religious Zionists, with a smattering of “New Atheists” like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Geert Wilders and Bill Maher, the anti-Scientology scene is overwhelmingly atheist. Misery loves company, right?]
Enter Bob Duggan. In 2012, Tony Ortega was fired from The Village Voice for his obsessive daily blogging about Scientology and Scientologists.Publicly, he claimed this was false and that he “resigned” in order to devote all his time to writing an anti-Scientology book—as if their weren’t enough out there already, all of them regurgitating the same old tired allegations that have been spread over the past thirty years and which have all been continually proven to be false. The book, as it turned out, was not actually about Scientology, but rather about the bizarre case of Paulette Cooper, a mentally unstable tabloid writer from the 1970s who claimed to have been harassed by rogue Scientologists. That Ortega idolizes Cooper is no secret, considering they’re both cut from the same cloth and have never been able to establish legitimate careers in journalism, having both been relegated to the tabloid ghetto. One need look no further than to Paulette Cooper’s output over the years to see exactly what kind of writer she is, what with such brilliant masterpieces as The 100 Top Psychics in America, 277 Secrets Your Cat Wants You to Know, 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You to Know, and my all-time personal favorite, 277 Secrets Your Snake and Lizard Wants. Wow. “Brilliant journalist,” indeed, eh? I’m truly surprised The New York Times or New Yorker never banged down her door at the prospect of hiring such a paragon of journalistic virtue and integrity.
All jokes and snark aside, at the end of the day Paulette Cooper is simply a mentally unstable woman who was the victim of psychiatric malpractice. Instead of suing the psychiatrists who were responsible for her mental breakdown, she has spent the last forty years of her life blaming Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard for all her mental and emotional issues she claims she has been suffering from daily. To their credit, the Church of Scientology chooses to ignore her, acknowledging that she is one of the countless unfortunates who was abused and tortured by psychiatric malpractice.
For Ortega, however, the book has turned out to be a catastrophic nightmare, and an utter disappointment to his two or three dozen fans who constitute his cult following—yes, you read that right. The man who continually accuses Scientology of being a cult is himself the leader of his own cult of personality, just like his best friends, Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun, both of whom have bilked their few dozen supporters out of tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, to cultivate their very own narcissistic cults.
To compensate for these monumental failures, and to save face, Tony Ortega took the advice of Scott Pilutik and decided to begin trashing Bob Duggan on his anti-Scientology blog. Apparently, his new job as executive editor of The Raw Story is purely symbolic and doesn’t actually pay much at all, certainly nowhere near enough to pay the rent on his horribly shoddy rent controlled apartment in New York City that his racist Israeli girlfriend, Arielle Silverstein, pays for with the income she derives working as a low-level staffer at the United Nations, though as of this writing I’m not sure if the UN has bothered to keep her as an employee in light of her militant anti-Arab and anti-Muslim canvassing online.
Last year, after realizing that his attempts at trying to ruin Bob Duggan’s career wasn’t getting anywhere and his abject failure in attempting to derail the rapid and unprecedented growth of Pharmacyclics, Tony Ortega decided to target Duggan’s family and children, a miserably low blow, too low in fact for most of the old school anti-Scientologist agitators like Mark Bunker and the late Bob Minton, the latter of whom recanted his anti-Scientology antagonism before his untimely passing in 2010. Again, to their credit, the Church accepted Minton’s apology unconditionally and even removed all their rebuttal articles that were written over the years in response to Minton’s false accusations. Mark Bunker, a cameraman that had been working for Minton since the late 1990s, while never having recanted his anti-Scientology positions, has significantly toned down his rhetoric and to his credit, has not been shy in criticizing the tactics of the more extreme variety of anti-Scientology bigots and avoiding their excesses. See his on-camera encounter with Scientologist Billy Sheehan, for example. [Please note, as a word of caution, that due to content that is highly offensive and upsetting to Scientologists, I do not recommend viewing this video if you are a Church parishioner. I strongly advise Scientologists to consult with their local Church concerning these matters rather than viewing offensive material on the Internet.]
To summarize that encounter for those reading, Mark Bunker, for the most part, attempts to be at least somewhat respectful toward Billy Sheehan and does not attempt to antagonize him, unlike his incessantly annoying tag along friend, Tory Christman (née Bezazian), an ex-Scientologist who almost overnight went from being a generally nice and diplomatic Scientologist to one of the most extreme anti-Scientology agitators in the scene. I personally have met and know her husband, Harold Bezazian, a wonderful human being and one of the most congenial and entertaining personalities I have had the pleasure of knowing, and out of respect for him I will say nothing more on that issue. For those who aren’t Church parishioners, I recommend taking a look at the following video from Mark Bunker, as well as this one, both from the late 1990s, just before Tory Christman decided to ditch her husband for the anti-Scientology wasteland. Even anti-Scientology haters have noted the extreme change in personality in Tory since leaving the Church, and they have admitted it has not been for the better. If Tory is reading this, I’d like to remind her that the path to reconciliation with the Church of Scientology and those Scientologists she has personally harmed, such as her husband, is never closed, and even if you do not wish to return to practicing Scientology, which no one would expect, you can, like your friend Bob Minton, seek to put the past behind you and make your peace with Scientology. As L. Ron Hubbard himself said and wrote many times, the door to Scientology is never closed to anyone, not even its worst enemies. For some inexplicable reason, I’m reminded of this classic song by Depeche Mode.
It is important to note that while Tony Ortega goes to great lengths to deliberately expose private information of lay Scientology parishioners such as Bob Duggan, Ortega goes to even greater lengths in protecting his own privacy. There are virtually no sources available on Ortega’s personal life, except the few small fragments of information he has revealed in a very few interviews. Virtually nothing is known of private life, and for the most part he has been very successful in keeping these details out of any public records, which is why in interviews, he zealously guards his privacy and refuses to answer most questions about his personal life. The few times some of his cultic followers have asked him about such questions, he has permanently banned them from both his Village Voice blog and his personal blog, called The Underground Bunker. It is well known among his inner circle that any questions about his Israeli girlfriend, Arielle Silverstein, will get you automatically kicked out his social circle, which explains why he has no social life whatsoever outside the anti-Scientology cottage industry, and he apparently, when not blogging about anti-Scientology tabloid fodder or going on a futile book signing “tour” to plug his Paulette Cooper book, spends all of his free time with his girlfriend and their cats. I’m not trying to be overtly critical or anything, as we’re all entitled the right to live however which way we want. It’s a free world, after all. But it smacks of great hypocrisy when one goes to such extreme lengths in protecting their own privacy, but has no qualms about invading the private lives of others like the East German Stasi and revealing this information for public consumption. Like I’ve written earlier, not even most of the veteran anti-Scientologists like Bunker have ever (as far as I know) stooped so low.
Case in point, back around 2013 and 2014, an anonymous anti-Scientology WordPress.com blog claiming to be written by renegade Sea Org members employed at the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International popped up with highly offensive and sensationalistic tabloid gossip. So offensive was this blog that many in the anti-Scientology scene, particularly among disaffected and former Scientologists, expressed great hostility and aversion to its content. It was, however, unabashedly supportive of Tony Ortega and his extremist tactics, and employed a similar tabloid gossip and innuendo content style. But when the anonymous bloggers mentioned certain details about Ortega’s personal life and some of his legal troubles, he threw a massive temper tantrum and banned anyone on his blog from ever mentioning the existence of the blog. In fact, he went so far as to variously accuse veteran anti-Scientologists like Frederic Rice, Garry Scarff, Donald Myers (more commonly known as the infamous Angry Gay Pope), and God knows who else. Based on my own extensive research and contacts, none of these parties was guilty of being responsible for that blog, covertly or otherwise. Yet, without any shred of evidence, and in spite of the fact that none of these characters had ever said or done anything against him, Tony Ortega went on such a rampage that shocked and appalled enough people in his inner circle to tell him to keep calm and back off.
In fact, based on what I’ve been to uncover, and believe me I put more than enough hours trying to unravel this mystery, the anonymous renegade Celebrity Centre bloggers are an unknown quantity, meaning no one has ever discovered who exactly they were, and while a few in the Church were certainly aware of their ridiculous anti-Scientology shenanigans and stupidity, they were never identified. That said, it is almost totally certain they were not active Sea Org members, and were possibly disaffected staff members or ex-Scientologists trying, quite in vain, to take out their own personal insecurities and failures on the Church and its parishioners, not unlike Tony Ortega and his unmerry band of miscreants.
What I do know for a fact is that—and the irony behind this is amazing and goes to show that truth is indeed infinitely stranger than fiction—they did reveal a number of leads that Tony Ortega acted upon and blogged about, all without giving any credit whatsoever to his anonymous blogger friends, instead claiming that the information was revealed to him by “anonymous sources within the Church,” a lie so egregiously lame and untrue that I don’t even know where to begin in dissecting all the falsities in such claims. There are no “insider sources”—there never have been and there never will be. It makes no sense whatsoever for a Scientologist who hates the Church or its management to remain a parishioner in good standing, and there are so many checks and balances in place within the Church that its virtually impossible for anyone harboring anti-Scientology sentiments to remain part of the fold without at least a few people discovering this fact. The management technology of L. Ron Hubbard is highly precise and accurate, and when applied properly within any kind of organization, whether religious or secular (such as a private business or a government institution), it is simply not possible for some sort of internal “fifth column” or renegade clique of “insider sources” to exist. This is precisely why tabloid journalists and bored college students have never been able to “infiltrate” the Church of Scientology or any of its affiliated organizations.
The few leads that get did get from these anonymous bloggers, while they were apparently active, included the sale of a certain house in Los Feliz owned by the family of L. Ron Hubbard, prerelease information of the Golden Age of Technology Phase II (which was ridiculously inaccurate and the further claims made since about GAT II by Ortega, Rinder, and Rathbun are wildly false and any active Scientologist can attest to that—they are seriously out of their depth and have no idea what they’re talking about), some false and libelous claims about Milton Katselas (who, in point of fact, was a Scientologist in good standing to the very end), various claims about Keith Relkin (an openly gay Scientologist who passed a few years ago and also remained a member in good standing, contrary to claims made by Ortega and his gang of mental incompetents—I personally knew Keith and can attest to his high moral character, enormous generosity, kindness and being all around great guy who is very much missed and was always, to the end, very highly respected by every Scientologist who knew him), and a smattering of claims and innuendo about various Scientologist celebrities that were utterly false, but which Ortega blogged about as factual, again refusing to name his alleged “inside sources.” The fact was that his so-called “insider sources” were none other than the same people who started that ridiculously stupid and offensive blog, which they claimed to have started because Ortega wasn’t posting enough of their wild nonsense.
This mutually parasitic relationship between Ortega and the anonymous bloggers, from what I’ve uncovered, goes back to at least 2011 and they were personally connected to a number of since disaffected Scientologists who were parishioners of Celebrity Centre International, most especially Tiziano Lugli and his wife Jamie Sorrentini, Jason Beghe, Karla Zamudio, and some weird guy who was best friends with Marc Headley whose name and details I don’t have on hand at the moment, and who was most likely the main author of the blog, and I have no doubt that Headley himself may have been directing the whole thing as revenge for a failed lawsuit against the Church. There are probably a few other people that were closely connected to this anti-Scientology “rogues gallery”, but those are the only individuals I’ve been able to confirm as having had a definite connection, and this has been determined based on various details that the anonymous bloggers revealed about themselves, their writing styles, and certain details about the very few fragments of factual information that was uncovered hidden within the mass of tabloid gibberish and smears. That these disaffected Scientologists would commit such crimes against their former friends is a testament to their lack of personal integrity and moral compass.
This is the sort of tabloid garbage that Tony Ortega deals in. L. Ron Hubbard referred to such antisocial personalities as “merchants of chaos” and he everything he writes about such characters harboring evil intentions against others has always proven spot-on and one hundred percent accurate. For those readers who have no familiarity with Scientology technology, there is actually are some great courses you can do for free online, such as The Cause of Suppression and How to Resolve Conflicts which deal exactly how to deal with this kind of tabloid smear campaigns and attempts to ruin a person’s reputation. For those who are willing to ignore the lies of the mass media and actually check out the Church of Scientology in person, there are a number of Life Improvement Courses which go into further detail about dealing with antisocial personalities and those trying to destroy your career and reputation, including Overcoming Ups and Downs in Life, Personal Values and Integrity, and Knowing Who You Can Trust. If you have ever been a victim of an Internet smear campaign and don’t have the time or funds to handle such suppression, you will definitely want to look into these Life Improvement Courses and they don’t cost very much at all, somewhere between $30 and $50 depending on what country you live in. If you find walking into a Church of Scientology too intimidating (!) or don’t want to shell out the cash (hey, I understand, it’s a tough economy out there), the previously mentioned free online courses are the next best thing.
In Part Two of this series, which will be forthcoming, I’ll continue where I’ve left off and go into a point-by-point rebuttal of Tony Ortega’s tabloid lies and dissect every aspect of his borderline illegal intrusions into the private lives of Church of Scientology parishioners.
And Tony Ortega, if you’re reading this, I just want you to know and understand that not only am I calling you out on your anti-Scientology smear campaigns, I’m never gonna give you up.
This series continues with Part Two: The downward spiral of tabloid blogger Tony Ortega: Sex trafficking, anti-religious lies, and plenty of burnt videotapes.