The Atlantic runs fawning ‘sponsor content’ glorifying Scientology; Disqus employee appears to override comment moderation, writers balk; Update: Advertorial removed

The Atlantic is coming under fire for an “article” that appears to be nothing more than a paid advertisement for the Church of Scientology. The piece, which practically deifies church president David Miscavige, looks suspiciously like an actual Atlantic article, with only a small yellow label denoting its status as “Sponsor Content.”

The squelching of negative comments did not go unnoticed, as anyone knows that troll-free comments sections are not a naturally occurring organism in the ecosystem that is the Internet.

Comments weren’t 100 percent positive, though. It looks as though one cheeky employee at Disqus was able to override the aggressive comment moderation and sneak in some criticism.

That seemed to break the dam, allowing other negative comments in.

Even magazine employees expressed discontent. A note on The Atlantic website explains that sponsored content is produced without the input of the magazine’s editorial team. Correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg took the occasion to post a piece on The Atlantic website touting the book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief,” even including an Amazon link. His link to that piece was retweeted by James Fallows, another Atlantic correspondent.

Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal also gave a shout-out to “Going Clear.”

The buzz about The Atlantic’s choice of sponsor content was so strong that it even generated a parody account.


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Update: The infamous Mat Mullen of Disqus weighs in and laments that his comment disappeared as well.

Update: The Atlantic has removed the Scientology ad “pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content and subsequent comment threads.”

More here:

Editor’s note: The title of this post was amended to reflect that it was not firmly established that a Disqus employee circumvented comment moderation to get his negative comment approved. Tweets about his comment making it through moderation were speculation.

  • J.N. Ashby

    Say what you want about those fruitcakes, but those buildings are properly nice. That Art Deco in Tel Aviv is lovely.

    • Soopermexican

      this comment brought to you by the church against the evil mind-devouring xenon.

      • TheOriginalDonald

        It’s Xenu. Lisa McPherson would correct you but she’s dead

      • J.N. Ashby

        Hardly. I called them fruitcakes, you silly goose. I just have an appreciation for architecture. I don’t approve of Ivan burning the eyes out of his architects, nor do I subscribe to the religion, but I can still appreciate St. Basil’s Cathedral. Don’t be so obtuse.

        Also, Xenon is a noble gas. Not an alien.

      • ssenecal5000

        There is a reason why lefties suddenly like scientology..
        It has a new focus, that included the embrace of the United Nations.
        Check out the Scientology website and you will see vague videos on the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
        For instance. ‘the right to move” which of course means within ones own country
        The Scientology video doesnt make that distinction , it will be interpreted as no borders

        • Soopermexican

          Wow I didn’t know that. This really is an alarming development. Thanks for the info!!! The way liberals worship the universal declaration of human rights and despise the American military that has liberation hundreds of millions just blows me away.

  • Soopermexican
  • kate_middleton

    I’m a bit of a Scientology watcher, and this made a HUGE splash with ex-Scientology and Scientology watchers. Really bad move from Atlantic.

  • putthehammerdown

    Is it O K to ask out loud :
    “What Would L. Ron Hubbard Do”?
    Oh, it’s not? Then just call me : Emily Litella Jr. and “…never mind…”
    [Ever seen their H Q in D. T. Clearwater, Fla.?
    There’s some really spooky folks, thereabouts…….]

  • Juliette Akinyi Ochieng

    Would this be the same Scientology that has joined forces with the Nation of Islam? Why, yes it would be.

  • Lamontyoubigdummy

    February cover of the Atlantic: “ALL YOUR BASSES ARE BELONG TO US”

  • Lamontyoubigdummy

    February cover of the Atlantic: “ALL YOUR BASSES ARE BELONG TO US”

  • Sons Thunder

    Folks at The Onion did it best: