Wikileaks re-publishes 60 Minutes piece on est/Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard

Update: On September 24, 2009, Boing Boing received a letter from an attorney representing Werner Erhard, which is now appended to this blog post.

Wikileaks has published the video and transcript of an investigative report into "est" (Erhard Seminars Training) guru and Landmark Education Forum godfather Werner Erhard by CBS News, originally broadcast on the program 60 Minutes on March 3, 1991. Excerpt from Wikileaks article:

Werner_Erhard_The_Transformation_of_a_Man_The_Founding_of_est.jpg
Both, video and transcript, have been published at various points in time, but are not publically available anymore due to legal threats against publishers from Werner Erhard.

The material contains interviews with friends, business associates and family of Werner Erhard making serious claims against him. Erhard is accused by family members of beating his wife and children, and raping a daughter, while still giving seminars on how to have relationships that work. The story also includes interviews with two former staff members of Werner Erhard: Wendy Drucker (a senior manager) and Dr. Bob Larzelere (head of Erhard's counseling staff).

The current incarnation of the est training is now known as Landmark Education, with its course the Landmark Forum. Landmark Education is run by CEO Harry Rosenberg, who is Werner Erhard's brother, and General Counsel and Chairman of the Board of Directors Art Schreiber, who has acted as Werner Erhard's lawyer. Werner Erhard's sister Joan Rosenberg also sits on the Board of Directors of Landmark Education.

"Suppressed CBS News 60 Minutes on Landmark cult leader Werner Erhard, 3 Mar 1991," (Wikileaks, thanks Enric)

Related: A number of companies are reported to have corporate ties to est/Landmark, for instance: Bay Area vegan restaurant Cafe Gratitude (See: East Bay Express, and SFGate). And Lululemon Athletica, the company that makes all that trendy yoga gear (see Fast Company, this blog, and the CEO's testimony on the Landmark Forum website). Some former employees at both companies have stated publicly that if you want to become a manager or keep your job, you'd pretty much better be prepared to join Landmark.


Update: Following is the text of a letter received from Terry M. Giles, an attorney representing Werner Erhard.

September 24, 2009
Xeni Jardin BoingBoing.net
xeni@xeni.net

Dear Xeni Jardin and BoingBoing.net:

I am a lawyer and have represented Werner Erhard since 1990 so am familiar with the true facts about the matters discussed in your blog post at http://www.boingboing.net/2009/08/31/suppressed-60-minute.html.

Your statement "Both, video and transcript, have been published at various points in time, but are not publically available anymore due to legal threats against publishers from Werner Erhard" is inaccurate. In fact, I first learned that CBS had decertified the episode when I read in Suzanne Snider's article in The Believer in its May 2003 issue: "The 60 Minutes segment was filled with so many factual discrepancies that the transcript was made unavailable with this disclaimer: This segment has been deleted at the request of CBS News for legal or copyright reasons.'"

CBS did not retract the statements made in the 60 Minutes episode by making the video and transcript unavailable as a result of Mr. Erhard's or his lawyers' threats. CBS independently determined that serious allegations made to the interviewer on the 60 Minutes program (which allegations you re-print in your blog post) are not true. The transcript and video were not "suppressed" as stated in your article; the transcript and video were made unavailable by CBS because the contents are not factually accurate and therefore should not be published. It isn't just CBS who determined the allegations are not true. I am enclosing an article from Time Magazine, March 1998, which clearly states that the allegations broadcast on 60 Minutes were in fact retracted and untrue. Numerous other respected publications, including the London Times, also reported that the allegations broadcast on 60 Minutes were recanted, and that one of the people appearing on the program had been offered money via a book deal to lie.

Now that you know the facts, you are in a position to re-think the advisability of continuing to publish a misleading and inaccurate blog post in your publication. I am formally requesting that you immediately cease said publication. Please let me know your intentions within the next ten business days.

Sincerely,

Terry M. Giles

Here is the Time Magazine article referenced by Mr. Giles: "The Best of est?," By Charlotte Faltermayer, Sunday, Jun. 24, 2001."

The title of this blog post has been modified from the original.