Again, Barbara Walters Jumps to the Defense of Scientology and Its Celebrity Adherents on ABC

A year ago on ABC's "The View," Barbara Walters came to the valiant defense of movie star Tom Cruise and Scientology. “I don’t believe any of this stuff, okay?” she replied to charges that Cruise auditioned potential wives before marrying actress Katie Holmes. “I think it is his religion and his faith, whether you like it or don’t like, the way Romney is Mormon and somebody else is Christian. Tom Cruise is one of the nicest men – people – I have ever known.” She added “He is a decent, hard-working man. Anyone who works with him on the set says how terrific he is.”

On Tuesday's edition of "The View," Walters again grew testy as they discussed actor Will Smith's son Jaden and his tweets dismissing the benefits of going to school. Walters insisted "Scientology has a pretty good educational program." Later, she grew annoyed with co-host Sherri Shepherd for saying "They'll get you." (Video and transcript below. MP3 audio here.)

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: People are talking about Jaden Smith these days because he's been tweeting to his millions of followers some kind of harsh words about education, things like "if everybody in the world dropped out of school we'd have a much more intelligent society." And he's caught a lot of flack for this and people are asking, is this the right message to be putting out to kids?

JENNY MCCARTHY: Well, plus, he's also homes-schooled. He's never gone to an actual school.

BARBARA WALTERS: Well, his parents ran a school. His parents actually founded a school, spent millions of dollars on it. It had -- says "a wide range of untraditional educational methodologies." They both attended their parents' schools. Now he says everybody should drop out. So, I wouldn't necessarily take the advice of this 15-year-old. There are a lot of things wrong with school and we've -- all our schools could-- most of our schools could be better but to say you're better off if you just drop out -- when I stop working I want to go back to school. There's so much I didn't learn.

SHERRI SHEPHERD: I think, also when you're 15, you know what you know at 15 and the thing about Twitter is you tweet from your own point of view and perspective.

WALTERS: But he influences people.

SHEPHERD: He has four million followers. He does influence people. I think, you know, for him to tweet that, I think dropping out of school is a horrible idea for most teenagers because, you know, most teenagers, you need education to make a living and I was looking up some stuff. If you've got less than a high school diploma you can expect to earn an average of $24,500 a year and most people can't live off that. So, I think, to tell teenagers to drop out of high school – And I think, you know – like I said, you know what you know at 15 if – ten more years from now he will think differently.

ABC's "Good Morning America" -- that celebrity-obsessed fluff-ball of a show -- also covered the controversy over young Jaden's arrogant tweets. But when it came to L. Ron Hubbard-created religion, Walters went on defense and expressed her displeasure with her subordinates that this had to be discussed:

JENNY McCARTHY: They said also – and this might be a little controversial,  they were talking about it, that some of it is scripted from Scientology since they have a little bit to do with Scientology.

SHEPHERD: Oh, you mean the school?

McCARTHY: Yeah. The messaging. 

WALTERS: But there's also -- I mean, I'm not going to speak about Scientology in general, but Scientology has a pretty good educational program. They're not telling people to drop out.

SHEPHERD: Didn't we have somebody out here who said they took her away and put her on a camp for a long time? 

WALTERS: That's a different story, darling and I wasn't talking about that aspect of Scientology.

SHEPHERD: She was a teenager when they took her, their school system. She said they pulled her out and put her in a camp. What kind of school is that? It's like it was a hard labor camp. She built the doggone – the huts that they lived in.

WALTERS [Irritated]: Okay. I have been to some of the Scientology schools and some of their education programs are very good. The last thing I want to do is argue about Scientology.

SHEPHERD: Believe it, because they'll get you!

WALTERS: I'm talking about – No, that's not true.

McCARTHY: I like the next story.

WALTERS: You just shouldn't say things like that.


It seems transparent that either (a) Walters is very enamored with Scientology, or more likely (b) Walters wants access to the "Most Fascinating People" in Hollywood that are very enamored with Scientology. She sent a clear signal again this week that she doesn't want a dissenting point of view on her ABC show.

[Hat tip: Laura G.]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis