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Cult Observer

AFF News

A Review of Press Reports on Cultism and Unethical Social Influence

 

The Cult Observer: AFF News

Volume 14,  No. 3, 1997

 

Volume 14, No. 3 -- 1997

Once again, this time as a result of the Heaven’s Gate cult suicides, staff members and associates of AFF have been called upon by the media for information on cults, and once again AFF has been on the frontline in response. For several says after the event, one could not turn on radio or television or pass a newsstand without being bombarded by endless news stories, nearly all of which employed cult experts as vital resources. This time, the media with some regrettable exceptions knew who the real experts were and in general gave them more extensive interview time in which to clarify the issues.

Marcia Rudin was the primary contact at AFF’s New York office, receiving on the first two days alone after the mass suicides 153 calls from media representatives; in those two days she was interviewed by or provided background to 93 such representatives. In subsequent days, AFF fielded about 70 more requests for interviews and informational materials, and was in contact with approximately 250 journalists.

Acting as a conduit to AFF advisors and other cult experts, the New York office was primarily responsible for the media appearances of: Janja Lalich on Meet the Press, NBC Nightly News, Leeza, Extra, Fox Network Cable News, and many San Francisco area radio stations; Dr. Sandy Andron Miami’s ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox-TV, and Univision news programs and on seven radio shows; Rachel Bernstein on 48 Hours and Nightline; Dr. Louis Jolyon west on Nightline and elsewhere; Professor Carl Raschke on CBS This Morning and ABC Evening News, among others; David Clark (who is currently at work on a missing person case linked to an Internet chat room) on both NBC and ABC news; Marcia Rudin on MS NBC national cable news, Fox Cable National News, and several New York news shows as well as National Public Radio; Dr. Michael Langone on a Florida TV news program; our new education director, Ron Loomis, by People Online Magazine and numerous radio shows; Herbert Rosedale, our president, on such TV programs as Inside Edition, Rolanda, MSNBC, Fox News’s Reilly Report, Japanese TV, 48 Hours, PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and on Radio Ireland, to name only a few; and although his name was not mentioned, Dr. Paul Martin was pictured at his Wellspring Retreat Center in Ohio for recovering former cult members, in a report on NBC Nightly News. Cynthia Lilley was also interviewed in that same segment, and scenes form NBC broadcasts of a few years ago on her family’s ordeal in rescuing her daughter from the Unification Church were shown, as well as an update on their current status.

In addition to the foregoing, Herbert Rosedale was interviewed by, or quoted in the New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, the Los Angeles Times, People magazine, Newsday, the Houston Chronicle, and many more. Marcia Rudin was quoted in print in several of the same papers and magazines, and Michael Langone was asked to write an editorial for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

The importance of AFF’s presence on the Internet as a readily available resource to the myriad organizations and individuals requiring information and assistance in the realm of cult problems cannot be sufficiently stressed. We have entered a new phase in our usefulness to those whose needs we are best qualified to meet.

David Halperin, M.D. reports a great deal of recent work in the matter of cults. He contributed Cults and Drug Abuse to the Encyclopedia of Addictions (published by Williams and Wilkins), and led two grand rounds, one at the Arden Hills Hospital in Orange County, NY, as part of the Continuing Medical Education Program of the Orange County Medical Society, the other at the New York University Division of Manhattan State Hospital. David also spoke about Heaven's Gate on CNN, Fox Cable News, Channel 9 in New York, and the New York 1 station. In addition, he presented a paper on the evolution of cults to a meeting of the New York Cult Information Service (successor to the New York affiliate of the Cult Awareness Network). David is now preparing a seminar on cults for next year’s meetings of the American Psychiatric Association.

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