A TV news anchor says he was fired from his morning anchor job in Arizona last month after running a story about the late Lisa Marie Presley‘s relationship with the Church of Scientology.
Dodge Landesma, 32, recounted to the New York Post that all had been going swimmingly two months into his new job at KYMA in Yuma, Arizona.
‘Everything had been smooth sailing,’ he said.
Until, in the wake of her death last month, Landesman wrote the script for a 1 minute and 45 second video piece about Lisa Marie’s involvement in the Danny Masterson rape trial.
The piece prompted a near immediate call from Scientology’s longtime spokeswoman Karin Pouw, asking him to take the story down.
32-year-old aspiring news anchor Dodge Landesman said things were going well at his new job in Yuma, Arizona, until he put up a piece about the late Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley died last month at the age of 54, she had been a Scientologist until about a decade ago when she decided to leave the religion
Masterson, a lifelong Scientologist, was and will again be on trial for three counts of rape involving accusations made by several accusers about incidents that occurred between 2001-2003. His Los Angeles trial ended late last year with a hung jury and two days before Presley’s death, an LA judge announced a retrial would move forward.
Landesman’s piece, titled ‘Lisa Marie Presley was planning Scientology takedown before her death,’ alleged that Elvis’s late daughter has prepared to testify for the prosecution in the original Masterson rape case that she’d been pressured by a member of the church to convince one of the accusers not to report him to the police.
The piece alleged that she was never called before the jury.
Landesmon wrote in the piece, which was not vetted by KYMA bosses, ‘It’s important to dig a little deeper into the death of Lisa Marie Presley.’
He wrote that Presley and Masterson had, at one point, been good friends until she left the church in about 2014.
Presley, he claimed, was going to ‘show up and testify in support of her friend who was one of Masterson’s alleged victims.’
‘She was preparing to declare that her friend told her she was raped that night,’ wrote Landesman.
The Los Angeles Church of Scientology building on Sunset Boulevard. Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw reportedly called Landesman to ask him to take the story down
Masterson, a longtime Scientologist, is currently facing a retrial on several counts of rape. His previous trial ended in a hung jury late last year
Landesman said his station bosses told him his piece was ‘sloppy’ and that they were afraid of a lawsuit from the Church of Scientology
The aspiring TV-anchor, who attended journalism school and worked at several small outlets around the country, said that after his piece went up, longtime Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw gave him a call and asked him to take it down.
He says he told her he would look into it but did not take the piece down.
Two hours later, then again the next day, she called and asked him again to delete the piece.
It was then that Landesman was called into a meeting with his bosses, the news director and the general manager of the station.
Landesman told the Post, they asked for his sources and told them his piece appeared to be ‘sloppy.’
‘I told them I got the information from Variety and other reliable sources. They said they were going to fight for me to keep my job with corporate and I thanked them.’
Several days later, however, Landesman says he was told by his bosses that he was too reckless and they fired him.
‘They also said corporate was afraid of a lawsuit,’ he said. ‘It was because they got scared of Scientology. They decided to cower to a paper tiger worth billions of dollars.’
Actor Danny Masterson (L) stands with his lawyer Thomas Mesereau as he is arraigned on three rape charges in separate incidents between 2001 and 2003, at Los Angeles Superior Court, in Los Angeles. Last month, a judge declared that the court will move forward with a retrial
Scientology global HQ in Clearwater, Florida called the Flag Building
The Post reported that the station’s news director Ernesto Romero wouldn’t comment on personnel matters and that the editor’s note that replaced Landesman’s story online speaks for itself.
The note reads: ‘In an exercise of editorial discretion, NPG of Yuma-El Centro Broadcasting, LLC has elected to unpublish this piece. After careful review, and given information that came to light after the piece was published, NPG of Yuma-El Centro Broadcasting, LLC has determined that it can no longer stand behind the piece because, among other things, it contained aspects of opinion by the author.’
Veteran Scientology journalist Tony Ortega told the post that, though Landesman’s piece got some of its details wrong, the gist of it was ‘essentially right.’
‘Look, Landesman’s piece wasn’t great. It didn’t really get the details right about Presley’s involvement in the Masterson matter.
‘But essentially, it was correct that she was, at one point, planning on exposing Scientology’s wrongdoing after having been involved in it for many years,’ he said.