Reality is a matter of perception, is the claim in one of the slogans used in marketing materials for the Israeli spy-for-hire company Psy-Group. Turns out the company nearly succeeded enlisting the CBS show 60 Minutes in their campaign against Brunstad Christian Church. I know I’m becoming predictable, but I just have to say it: WTF?
60 Minutes is often described as the most successful news magazine in TV history. Featuring hard-hitting investigative reports, interviews, news and commentaries for more than 50 years, getting a spot on 60 minutes is every investigative reporter’s wet dream. Of course, it’s a completely unattainable dream for 99,99% of them. But apparently not for Psy-Group.
Leaked Psy-Group files show that Emmanuel Rosen succeeded in catching the interest of Shachar Bar-On, who is a producer for 60 minutes reporter Lesley Stahl. The producer was presented with Psy-Group’s story about Brunstad Christian Church, and the show’s staff spent a lot of time planning the segment. Mr. Bar-On talked to Jonathan van der Linden on the phone and planned to come to the Netherlands for the main interview.
The leaked documents show intense work going on behind the scenes. Ben van Wijhe, Oscar Floor and Jonathan van der Linden worked with Emmanuel Rosen and Heidi Hough to prepare the story. Before CBS became interested, Heidi Hough had been tasked with producing a movie on her own. Now, she gave CBS her storyboard, in which she claimed that she uncovers one of the world’s largest untold, ongoing cult stories of corruption, conspiracy and abuse and reveals its enduring impact on an international community.
Emmanuel Rosen was, however, concerned that CBS should discover the fact that this was one of Psy-Group’s campaigns. After all, this was taking place medio 2019, several months after The New Yorker and other newspapers had fixed the spotlight on the Israeli outfit. Before Jonathan van der Linden’s talk with the CBS Producer, Rosen repeatedly stressed that he should not mention Ben van Wijhe, and that it was very important that his interview didn’t appear to be part of a campaign.
In the end, CBS got wind of the plot and slammed the door in Emmanuel Rosen’s face. Which meant it was time for plan B: NRK Brennpunkt and Mr. Eraker.
To those of my readers who believe this story must be a product of my vivid imagination: You can see for yourself. I’ll give you a small sample this time. I can, however, assure you there’s more to come.