Director Paul Haggis was one of the first celebrities to leave and criticize Scientology (after many years as a member and having donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to it). Haggis took part in HBO’s Going Clear, the documentary that exposes some of the church’s unsavory practices, including physical abuse, emotional blackmail, and intimidation. The documentary was also highly critical of Scientology’s most famous spokesperson, Tom Cruise, who is fawned over – and perhaps manipulated by – the church’s leader, David Miscavige. In the documentary Cruise appears to be either extremely gullible or willfully ignorant. Now Haggis is taking aim at the media for the way it handled Cruise during the press tour for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, accusing journalists of avoiding questions about Scientology.
“We forgive anybody anything if they’re a movie star, I guess!” says Haggis. “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? There are things called journalistic integrity, and there are things more important than promoting a movie sometimes. 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.” Should the media have asked Cruise what he thought of the documentary? Maybe. Then again, look what happened the last time a reporter asked a movie star some uncomfortable questions.