I sent this letter to CBS to:
Christa Robinson, Senior Vice President, Communications
Samantha Graham, Vice President, Communications
Tucker Hart, Senior Publicist
Richard Huff, Vice President, Communications
I have yet to hear back from them.
My name is Naomi Gibson. I’m writing to express my objection to your decision to give a platform to five NXIVM supporters, on a segment which aired September 29th on CBS This Morning. Your decision to allow them to claim the innocence and wrongful conviction of Keith Raniere, who was convicted of seven counts of federal crimes (including sex trafficking and child pornography, and who coerced women into branding their bodies with his initials) amounts to a blatant disregard for the American judicial system, and for human decency. Keith Raniere is in prison, convicted in Federal Court. Five other women were also convicted of federal crimes in connection with his criminal organization.
What is your reasoning for giving supporters of NXIVM, who are still under the influence of a convicted sex trafficker, a platform to claim that Keith Raniere was unjustly convicted? What was the motive behind airing this particular story, during the morning hours under COVID, at a time where families are home together, with young people and children watching? Do you have any sense of how a segment like this affects those who have been abused by Keith Raniere and his inner circle? Were you blinded by Nicki Clyne’s celebrity? Would you have aired the segment if it didn’t include her? Would you give a platform to any celebrity who supports a convicted criminal?
Would you give a platform to people who claim R. Kelly’s innocence, or Jeffrey Epstein’s innocence, or Harvey Weinstein’s? Would your assistants and producers take the time to heed their call, let alone put them on the air? There are people who are still either loyal to, or afraid of all of those criminals, but I don’t see CBS This Morning giving them a platform. What is the difference in your choosing to give a platform to Keith Raniere’s loyalists?
Keith Raniere is a convicted sexual predator. The prosecution called him a crime boss, the head of a criminal enterprise. His crimes include sex crimes against children. He is in Federal Prison, along with Clare Bronfman, the billionaire heiress who funded the organization, and who used her fortune and influence to threaten its detractors over decades. Clare Bronfman was recently sentenced to 81 months in Federal Prison. This was a groundbreaking case, and it took an irrefutable mountain of evidence to prosecute and convict Keith Raniere and Clare Bronfman.
I was a member of NXIVM. I’m sorry I have to educate you on how triggering and traumatizing it is to former members of NXIVM, or any high control groups, to see those loyalists on morning network television. The cult had a very legitimate front. No one thinks they are joining a cult. We thought we were signing up for an “Executive Success Program.” Indoctrination is a slow and deliberate process. There is no “consent” when blackmail and coercion are involved. You should have researched and educated yourselves on the issue of coercive control before you put those people on television. My mission is lobbying for legislation in the US that will assist prosecutors in being able to convict criminal cult leaders. I was born into a different cult, The Children of God. The leader of that cult was also a sexual predator and criminal, but he was never convicted. Neither have any of his acolytes who committed crimes, many against children. I was present at the Brooklyn Courtroom for Keith Raniere’s conviction. That day the law did its job. Lead prosecutor Moira Penza laid out the case clearly and methodically, presenting an overwhelming amount of evidence that led twelve members of a jury to convict Keith Raniere.
This case is precedent setting. It will make it much more difficult for powerful leaders of cults, religious organizations, and other cultic groups to commit crimes and coerce others into commit crimes to aid in their criminal behavior. Cult leaders have extreme ideologies and expertise in recruiting, indoctrinating and enslaving people. Many of the tactics used by cult leaders such as Keith Raniere are replicated in terrorist groups and other extremist groups.
I understand that CBS This Morning is planning to have Dr. Janja Lalich on to discuss Keith Raniere’s sentencing. Her work is groundbreaking and important to cult education and in the field of sociology. I appreciate you having her on the air and promoting her work. She is one of the foremost authorities on this issue, and will educate you and your audiences on the dangers of unethical coercion.
I’m sorry that you amplified the voice of the NXIVM supporters. I can’t help but think of all the victims of this cult and other cults, who never get that chance to have their voices heard. Or those who happen to see supporters of their perpetrator being glorified over breakfast on the morning news.
My hope for this email is that the producers of CBS This Morning will gain a little more perspective and understanding of the weight that the NXIVM case carries, and that you will become more discriminating about those to whom you offer a platform. I hope you understand what it means for the future of federal law, for the EDNY to have been able to fight a legal team funded by the Bronfman fortune, and convict a criminal like Keith Raniere.
Below is a link to the segment in question:
I appreciate your time.
Naomi is a writer, actor, producer and activist. Through her experience in choosing to share her story and expose NXIVM, she has discovered the importance and grace of finding her voice.