False Salon Story: What was said at the time

Collecting good rebuttals to bad journalism

I previously blew the whistle on blogger Edwin Lyngar and his agent Elizabeth Kracht for planting a false story in Salon libeling the late meditation teacher and humanitarian Sri Chinmoy (1931-2007). I analyzed the false Salon story in relation to a false story (on a different subject) appearing in Rolling Stone. (See “Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1.”)

I’ve recently been beating the bushes, making a nuisance of myself, trying to track down what people said at the time in rebuttal to Salon. I remembered people wrote some good things, but realized they were scattered in different places and somewhat difficult to access. So I hope no one minds that I’ve collated what different people said and presented it in a single blog post, where the whole may be greater than the sum of the parts. The purpose is to resolve a matter of public concern. Continue reading

How far would you go to get a book deal?

At Kimberley Cameron & Associates, K is for korruption.

With the summer season upon us, it’s well to take a moment to reflect on safe driving and safe workshopping. Safe driving we all know about, but safe workshopping, you ask?

It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in distress, with a midlist that’s all but moribund. This means it’s harder than ever for even talented writers to break out with a first book deal. As for the less talented…

This summer, many of us will travel to writers’ conferences where we hope to improve our writing craft. At least, that should be our main goal; but brochures often tout the presence of literary agents and a chance to press their flesh, wow them with an elevator pitch, and perhaps slip a well-honed chapter into their Gucci handbag (if not padlocked or booby-trapped).

Judging by the apocrypha emerging from faithful attendees at prior conferences, we can also assume a fair amount of time will be spent osculating the posterior of said literary agents, for it is well known that when the sphincter is thus palpitated, this spurs agents on to greater zeal in finding a publisher for even second-rate manuscripts.

Such osculation is not illegal between consenting adults, and helps to fill the awkward silences at literary gatherings — those moments when the last of the Chardonnay has died a poetic death, and no amount of patchouli oil can cover the stench of naked literary ambition. In such moments, it’s considered wise to pucker up. (Tip #1: Always lubricate the lips with ample hyperbole, e.g.: “You’re a God among literary agents! I would travel to the ends of the earth in hope of a mere glance from your well-connected countenance…”)

This has become an accepted, customary, and even obligatory ritual in the flirtations between writers and literary agents. But what if an agent asks you to go beyond accepted norms and engage in activities considered risky or extreme? What if the agent is Elizabeth Kracht?

As documented in the extended article “Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1,” in May 2014 blogger Edwin Lyngar planted a false story in Salon. His literary agent, Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates, set him up. She put him in touch with a fabulist source who was a close personal friend of hers from high school, Celia Corona-Doran, who would feed Lyngar a false story which would hang him. His chances of ever being taken seriously as a journalist would be ruined. Naturally, Lyngar didn’t fact-check. Continue reading

Can Salon Learn From Rolling Stone’s Mistakes? Part 1

The Rolling Stone/UVA debacle was preventable but not unique. Salon had a similar breakdown in early 2014, likewise due to somnolent editors and fabulist sources, plus a hidden element of corruption.

Continue reading

The ACLU and Religious Freedom, Part 3

People should be able to choose a minority faith without expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

RECAP: In Part 1 we talked about the deprogramming era and how the ACLU helped to end it. In Part 2 we explored the transition from deprogramming to exit counseling, from physical coercion to psychological coercion. Our persistent theme is that the ACLU should still be concerned about the plight of minority adherents, since the manner in which the latter continue to be harassed by anti-cultists remains violative of their religious freedom and core civil rights.

Part 2 ended with a discussion of techniques and jargon associated with exit counseling and “cult recovery” groups. We talked about the way that former spiritual seekers are resocialized to view themselves as “cult victims,” and encouraged to generate atrocity stories in order to justify and reinforce this new identity based on victimhood.

It’s helpful to be able to decode anti-cult jargon, since it contains a plethora of stereotypes and bigoted assumptions built right into the language itself. A person who has a spiritual experience has fallen victim to a “dissociative disorder,” while a person who comes to feel closer to God through prayer, meditation, and reflection suffers from “delusions of grandeur” brought on by “cult mind control.” Devotion to a spiritual figure is “an unnatural fixation caused by lack of a strong father figure during adolescence,” while self-giving is “an ego disorder,” and community involvement constitutes “a life wasted in the cult.”

What’s obscured by such anti-cult jargon is the ineffable quality of joy often experienced by minority adherents, and the meaningfulness of their lives. Continue reading