Scientology Might Have a Spy Working Within New York Media

John Cook, writing for The New York Observer, has a very interesting piece today that alleges John Connolly – a former NYPD detective turned journalist, who has written for Vanity Fair, Gawker, and The Daily Beast – is a paid informant for the Church of Scientology.

The claims come from two previously high ranking members (they both defected) of the church: Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder. Supposedly Connolly has been using his reporter credentials to pump other media members for information on anything they were going to write regarding Scientology.

Rathbun says that Connolly has been working for the church for almost 20 years, and Rinder supported that claim to Cook:

Rinder, who was responsible for, in church parlance, ‘handling’ the news media, corroborates Rathbun’s account. ‘Connolly was a resource to deal with media problems,’ he told me. ‘Ingram [an L.A. private investigator with links to the church] used to tout Connolly’s virtues pretty often—’Connolly can handle this; he’ll find out what’s going on and he’s got lines into all media.’

Interesting, right? Well, it could be said that Connolly was only doing what he does best – using both sides of the coin to get information for stories. Cook admits that it would be helpful:

Who knows what valuable secrets Connolly could extract from Ingram, or other church members, in exchange for using his credentials to keep tabs on a few harmless critics of the church, or check up on a reporter now and again? Reporters trade information with sources all the time. Moreover, if Rathbun’s accusations are true and his memo genuine, who’s to say Connolly passed on accurate information?

Connolly hasn’t returned Cook’s inquiries into the subject, so who knows if we’ll ever get to the bottom of this. But surely the church isn’t happy about more mud (even if it isn’t true) being slung at it.

Somewhere, Tom Cruise is writing the name “John Cook” in his own blood.