With the first reviews of Lawrence Wright’s book on Scientology, Going Clear, appearing in PW and the New York Times ahead of Knopf’s January 17 release of the book, the Church of Scientology has issued a statement challenging the accuracy of the book. Knopf said it stands behind Wright and “look[s] forward to publishing Going Clear on Thursday.”
In its statement, the Church of Scientology said that Wright and Knopf did little fact-checking on the book, saying that in the two years Wright was writing Going Clear the Church received “only a dozen isolated and esoteric ‘fact checks.’” Knopf said that, in addition to doing more than 250 interviews – the majority of them with present and former Scientologists – Wright was assisted by a fact checker through the entire process and sent over 150 queries to one of the Church's spokespeople. The interviews were augmented by extensive reporting and a review of original source material, Knopf said.
A spokesperson for the church contended that the majority of interviews were with former members of Scientology. “The one thing clear about Lawrence Wright’s book is that he continues to carry water for a handful of angry, bitter individuals led by a pathological and self-admitted liar still consumed with vengeance a decade after being removed for malfeasance,” the statement continued.
Knopf stressed that the book had as its genesis a New Yorker article that Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, wrote about Paul Haggis, which won the National Magazine Award for reporting. The book, which includes much new material, itself has been vetted by Random House counsel.