Paul Haggis, a prominent ex-Scientologist whose break with the Church formed the narrative lynchpin of Alex Gibney's recent exposé “Going Clear,” has some strong words for journalists who refuse to question Tom Cruise on the Church’s alleged crimes.
"His PR people are very smart,” the "Crash" and "Show Me A Hero" director said in an interview with the Daily Beast, referring to the fact that Cruise never mentioned Scientology on the “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” press tour. "But I don’t know how journalists can continue to call themselves journalists if they aren’t brave enough to ask a question. I mean, how big does the elephant in the room have to be before you ask about it?”
Acknowledging reports that journalists were banned from asking Cruise about Scientology, Haggis said he found that to be an unsatisfying excuse. “There are things called journalistic integrity, and there are things more important than promoting a movie sometimes,” the director continued. "It was so glaringly obvious. There was this huge elephant there, and every journalist agreed not to address it. Why? You’re just a PR person at that point. Shame on you.”
Despite this being Cruise's first major press tour since the dramatic revelations of "Going Clear," a series of high profile interviewers, including Jon Stewart, have neglected to press Scientology's leading celebrity figurehead on the organization's many alleged human rights abuses. Yet as I have argued extensively -- and as those involved with “Going Clear” continue to remind us -- Cruise’s continued silence carries high stakes.
As director Alex Gibney recently wrote in a Hollywood Reporter op-ed:
"We can’t let star power blind us to abuse. We should insist that celebrities play by the rules the rest of us do. And we need to be willing to encourage those who can to ask uncomfortable questions on our behalf. Just because Tom Cruise is promoting a movie we may like, we can’t allow him — or talk show hosts — to use his star power to silence questions about the viciousness exercised in the shadow of his reputation. Human rights are more important than Hollywood stunts on the wing of an airplane.”
You can read the rest of Haggis' interview with The Daily Beast here.