BBC journo Sweeney exposes his own nasty side investigating Scientologists

In my ‘Reputation Management In The Internet Age’ workshops, I emphasise the importance of managing your personal and corporate character as well as just managing your reputation. In going ballistic at a Scientology interview subject, BBC reporter John Sweeney revealed an unsavoury element of his own character that does little to enhance his personal or professional reputation.Subsequently, he then shows little understanding of how make an emotionally mature and genuine public apology, that should fully and simply acknowledge the wrongs of his inappropriate actions.
Instead, Sweeney wants to defend his intimidatingly aggressive outburst by pointing out Scientology’s manifold organisational flaws and how their sustained provocation (possibly genuine) fuelled his rant.
He ingenuously describes the ‘cult’s’ widespread release of his ‘ape’ footage as an ‘attack video’. John; in the clip and probably your programme, you’re the one doing the attacking. As a media man, Sweeney surely has to accept that the footage is editorial ‘gold’.
Sweeney’s spin on his meltdown is that he looks like an exploding tomato and sounds like a jet engine; this attempt at humorous self-deprecation doesn’t hide what he really looked like: A highly aggressive monster trying to bully, intimidate and lord it over another person.
Sweeney makes a living trying to self-righteously expose the actions of those he deems to be ‘suspect’ (not the only one!); ironic that, in his endeavours, he has revealed highly suspect elements of his own character. And it’s moved him nearer to the top of the pile for ‘Public Relations Disasters’ Vol 2.

By way of disclosure, I’m neither a Scientologist nor journo.

6 thoughts on “BBC journo Sweeney exposes his own nasty side investigating Scientologists

  1. “A highly aggressive monster trying to bully, intimidate and lord it over another person.”

    Clearly you have made no effort to see the full footage and other interviews that led up to this incident. Not only was the Scientology leader, Tommy Davis, already shouting at John before be retorted using the same methods, he had also already endured almost 7 days of bullying and intimidation himself.

    He apologised for his, admittedly wrong behaviour – the CoS has not and instead started a slur campaign with false accusations and biased editing.


  2. Ta Ben; We live in a sound bite/edited clip media society; by the clip shown, Sweeney was inexcusably in the wrong. Read my op-ed closer and you see I acknowledge ‘sustained provocation’ by CoS so I have taken fuller circumstances into consideration. My point is that Sweeney issued a self-justifying excuse masked as an apology, which from a crisis mgmt view, wouldnt be my recommendation.


  3. Pingback: PR Disasters » Panorama’s Sweeney - victim of Scientology PR drill?

  4. After seeing all of what has been said in both articles (Scientology and Me and the rebuttal video Panorama Exposed) I am suprised that you focused purely on this outburst. Tommy Davis’ behaviour was considerably worse when viewed in context. And since Tommy is in fact in charge of PR and this site is called “PR Disasters” I am surprised you gave no mention to him.
    I think given the reputation of the BBC and the Panorama program (in the uk at least) that the behaviour of Tommy is astounding, that he had so little understanding of how his constant attacks at Sweeney and his refusal to let him speak would inevitably paint a very sinister picture of Scientologies methods.

    With reference to the apology, I would expect an explanation. And it was given.


  5. Tommy is no PR angel, but the focus of the media ‘pr disaster’ was on Sweeney, but agree (as my second item shows) how Sweeney may have been victim of CoS baiting technique. From PR media management angle, your apology needs to appear authentic, clear and unequivocal. JS’s was self-excusing not just explanatory.


  6. Sweeney is an ass and a belligerent fraud.
    Having watched him on the Stalin documentary it is quite clear that this pompous fool tries to bully and intimidate to add credence to the weak content on show.


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