In a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter posted online Thursday, Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney wrote that he’s “disappointed” with “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart for not bringing up the alleged human rights abuses in the Church of Scientology when he had Tom Cruise on as a guest July 28.
Cruise has been the face of the church for decades, and as Gibney’s film “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” shows, the star allegedly had knowledge of abuses members of the church have endured.
“What a missed opportunity,” Gibney wrote in the column. “For once, someone with intelligence, rhetorical skill and insight could have confronted Cruise about the engine of cruelty that drives his chosen religion and reminded the world that the smiling movie star sits idly by, effectively endorsing a longstanding and ongoing pattern of human rights abuses.”
The Wrap reported days after the Cruise appearance on “The Daily Show” that Cruise’s publicity team enforced a strict no personal questions mandate for access to the star during his publicity tour of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.” That included questions about Scientology.
Instead, Stewart and Cruise discussed workout regiments and plans for another “M: I” movie. Earlier that week on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the host had a lip synch battle with Cruise.
“Some may ask, ‘Why should Jon Stewart or anyone else raise the issue of Cruise’s religion? Isn’t that a private matter?'” Gibney wrote. “In this case, no. Through Scientology’s tax exemption, we all subsidise the church’s documented cruel and unusual punishments of its adherents and critics. Yet what’s left of the church’s credibility remains because Tom Cruise — the movie star with the hundred-million-dollar smile — is the religion’s most powerful pitch man and recruiting tool. Tom Cruise is not just a believer; he’s essentially part of the church’s power structure.”
Gibney is not the only one who has called out Stewart. The Atlantic also was disappointed Cruise didn’t get the usual Stewart treatment. But it surmised it was less Stewart but the company he works for as to why Scientology wasn’t brought up.
“Part of the problem is the byzantine structure of the entertainment industry,” Sophie Gilbert of The Atlantic wrote. “The Daily Show is broadcast on Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom. Viacom also owns Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the Mission Impossible franchise.”
Gibney notes in his column that according to insiders at “The Daily Show,” there was no deal to not bring up Scientology.
The filmmaker believes we the audience are also responsible in this.
“We should insist that celebrities play by the rules the rest of us do,” Gibney wrote. “And we need to be willing to encourage those who can to ask uncomfortable questions on our behalf.”
Watch the complete Tom Cruise “The Daily Show” interview:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.