By Larry Shea
As I am posting this story on July 26, 2018, The New York Times is still referring to the NXIVM Cult as “a self-help group.”:
In The New York Times article, “Seagram’s Liquor Heiress Charged in Nxivm Sex-Trafficking Case,” which is about Clare Bronfman’s “arrest on conspiracy and racketeering charges in connection with her role at Nxivm,” The New York Times refers to the NXIVM Cult “a self-help group.”
The Bronfman’ article is dated July 24, 2018. Why isn’t The New York Times calling NXIVM a cult? Is The New York Times genuflecting to the Bronfman family name? Are they deliberately attempting to prejudice the case? Do the 1% automatically have special privileges afforded to them for which the rest of us “lesser mortals” are not entitled? In other words, is the United States of America a de facto oligarchy? I believe that the answer to at least the last question is, undoubtedly, YES!
The New York Times is flacking for Clare and Sara Bronfman. Isn’t that special!
When it comes to referring to NXIVM as a cult, there appears to have been a form of journalistic dissonance occurring at The New York Times Magazine: The June 03, 2018 issue featured a red-washed photo of Keith Alan Raniere on the cover. As part The NYT Magazine’s Behind the Cover series, it released a video entitled, “Behind the Cover: The Empowerment Cult” on May 30, 2018.
That seemed fair enough: The NYT Magazine described NXIVM as “The Empowerment Cult.”
However, the headline of the feature story inside of The NYT Magazine is entitled, “‘The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment.’” Sex Cult has single quotation marks, but I am not sure why that was done. It does not appear to have been done because of a lack of space. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the editor had a reason for singling out Sex Cult by using single quotation marks.
It is in the “subhead,” or text, that overlays Keith Raniere’s photo on the cover of The NYT Magazine, where the journalistic dissonance begins to appear. The last line in the subhead on the front cover states, “The Group Made Women Feel As If They Were In Control.” Here, NXIVM has gone from being referred to as an “Empowerment Cult” to being referred to as a “Group.” Which is it NYT Magazine? Is NXIVM an “Empowerment Cult,” a “‘Sex Cult,’” or a “Group?”
I am quite sure that there was no legal reason for substituting the word “Group” for cult when describing NXIVM. Vanessa Grigoriadis, who wrote the feature story “The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment” for The New York Times Magazine, stated in an interview, about her feature story that she did for Meaning of Life TV, that “I keep using the word group and I’m not really saying that because of the legal issue. I’m saying that more, just because I have training in like religious studies and I just really don’t like that word. I don’t think cult is fair. I don’t like it.”
Is this blatantly biased statement an indication of an overall favorable bias on the part of The New York Times and Vanessa Grigoriadis towards the NXIVM “Group?” Did she and The New York Times Magazine bring a bias to the reporting on Keith Raniere and his NXIVM Cult? Her statement makes me wonder if Vanessa Grigoriadis read the Forbes’ article, by Michael Freedman, from 2003 which is entitled, “Cult of Personality?” Edgar Bronfman Sr., who was interviewed by Michael Freedman for this article, had this to say about the Executive Success Programs (the name of the Raniere Cult in 2003) “I think it’s a cult.” At one time, Bronfman had taken a course and had endorsed the cult, but he finally realized that a cult is a cult by any other name.
Perhaps Edgar Bronfman Sr. lacked “training in like religious studies.”
Throughout her interview for Meaning of Life TV, Vanessa Grigoriadis comes across as nervous and unprepared. Overall, she does not present herself with the gravitas of a professional journalist in her interview. The following is an exact quote and an all-too-typical example of how this 45-year old woman articulates throughout her entire interview: “Okay, so, um, you know, like…”
Watch the video; I am not making this bubbly jabber-babble up! (Her Meaning of Life TV interview was recorded on June 22, 2018, and posted on July 02, 2018.)
So, what is a cult? Wikipedia defines a cult as “a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object, or goal.” Well, the NXIVM Cult is certainly a social group that is defined by its philosophical beliefs. The NXIVM Cult also has a common interest in only one personality, Keith Raniere, who is the “philosophical founder” of the NXIVM Cult. As well, Keith Raniere was the only person who could establish the objects or the goals of the NXIVM Cult. Raniere co-founded the precursor to the NXIVM Cult, Executive Success Programs, Inc., in 1998 with Nancy Salman. ESP, as this entity is still known in Mexico, was also a cult with the same hierarchical-pyramid structure as the NXIVM Cult.
Nancy Salzman was the only other individual who held an official title within the NXIVM Cult. Nancy Salzman’s title was “Prefect”. A “prefect” can be defined as a chief officer or as a chief disciplinarian. As the “Prefect” of NXIVM, Nancy Salzman answered only to the “philosophical founder” of the NXIVM Cult, Keith Alan Raniere, aka “Vanguard.” Nancy Salzman is also the President and owner of the NXIVM Company.
Possibly the most shameful segment in Vanessa Grigoriadis’ feature story in The NYT Magazine, is when she glosses over the child-rape allegations which have been lodged against Keith Raniere. In her story, she states that “Prosecutors also claimed that Raniere, in the 1980s and early 1990s, had repeated sexual encounters with under-age girls. He denied this to me.” So, did Vanessa Grigoriadis believe his denial? She never lets us know and she never again mentions the claims of “repeated sexual encounters with under-age girls” that were made by the prosecutors.
Of course, some readers may recall that Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote a book entitled Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus. In this book, she maintains that, when it comes to sexual assault and rape, women are to be believed and men are to be assumed guilty. However, in the case of the allegations of underage sex lodged against Keith Raniere, his denial appears to have been good enough for this seemingly unconcerned woman.
Ms. Grogoriadis appears to be more interested in mahogany-colored chairs, sphinx cats, palo santo incense, women’s athleisure wear, and how tiny Sara Bronfman’s huge, cookie-cutter, Mac-Mansion made her feel. Perhaps a better title for Vanessa Grigoriadis’ NYT Magazine story about the NXIVM Cult would have been: “Blurred Vision: How the Badass Warrior Bitches of NXIVM and Their Persuasive Peripatetic Prophet Threw Pixie Dust in My Eyes.”
Was Vanessa Grigoriadis even aware of the four-part investigative series that The Times Union of Albany did on the NXIVM Cult entitled “The Secrets of NXIVM?” If she was not aware of it, then that is certainly a huge embarrassment both for her and her editor-in-chief, Jake Silverstein. The final installment in The Times Union’s series, “The Secrets of NXIVM, is entitled “In Raniere’s shadows: Women recall manipulation, underage encounters.” If Vanessa Grigoriadis had read this story, she could have reached out to an adult Rhiannon who has reported that she was statutorily raped by Keith Raniere 60 times when she was just 12-years old. The child-raping sexual predator, Keith Raniere, was in his early 30s at the time that his alleged rapes of Rhiannon occurred. However, it is still not too late for Vanessa Grigioriadis to reach out to all of Keith Raniere’s underage female rape victims or to their relatives, or to any of his adult female rape and sexual assault victims.
If Vanessa Grigoriadis had read journalist Chet Hardin’s pivotal article, “Stress in the Family,” that was published by Metroland and was available on the Cult Education Institute’s website, she would have learned about Dr. Carlos Ruela, who was the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Our Lady of Mercy Hospital in the Bronx. “Ruela joined a chorus of NXIVM’s critics after three former Espians [individuals who had quit the ESP Cult], he says, had decompensated, or developed psychiatric illnesses.” Dr. Ruela worried that the [ESP] training seminars were “just a way to make money, with no concern for the psychological damage they level.”
From this same article, Vanessa Grigoriadis also could have learned about Maria who “suffered a psychotic episode” and began to hallucinate. Maria attributed this life-ruining episode to the extreme stress that she underwent while she was training with the NXIVM Cult for six months. According to Dr. Ruela, the cult would simply “dump” people who had adverse psychological reactions to its intense neurolinguistic programming and its warped Ayn-Rand-based philosophy. These damaged individuals were deemed to be weak by “the most ethical man in the world” and his brainwashed “Family.” After all, these needy psychologically-damaged individuals might crave attention and become “parasites” according to Raniere’s twisted interpretation of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of life. Keith Raniere was reputedly a huge fanboy of Atlas Shrugged, which was written by Ayn Rand, who was born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum. (visit, thefallofnxivm.com)
Since December 6, 2015 there has been a notorious video on YouTube which is entitled “NXIVM Cult Leader Keith Raniere Claims to Have Had People Killed.” In this video, we see and hear Keith Raniere speak his now-infamous lines: “I’ve had people killed because of my beliefs and because of their beliefs and because of things that I’ve said and I’m mindful of that.” In fairness, to Vanessa Grigoriadis, she may not have been aware of this video. But then again, why didn’t she reach out to Frank Parlato for her feature story? Mr. Parlato’s relentless in-depth reporting on the Raniere Cult is one of the main reasons why Keith Raniere is currently residing inside of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY. Why on earth wouldn’t Vanessa Griggoriadis reach out to the leading authority on Keith Raniere and the NXIVM Cult? Only Vanessa Grigoriadis and the editorial staff of The NYT Magazine can answer that question.
In the “Behind the Cover” video that the editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein and design director Gail Bichler produced for the story about NXIVM, Jake Silverstein states “The cover story this week is about NXIVM, the founder of which is Keith Raniere.” Near the end of this short video, Jake Silverstein states that “One of the reasons that we did go with the red wash [background color of the cover] is that this is not a story about Keith Raniere.” Gail Bichler adds to his statement by chiming in with “You can still see Raniere, but you get the sense that the story is much bigger than him.”
These absurd statements by Silverstein and Bichler demonstrate just how woefully uninformed these two journalists are about the personal history of Keith Raniere and his cult. I think that both Jake Silverstein and Gail Bichler are missing the point entirely! The NXIVM Cult is led by Keith Raniere and Keith Raniere is the story. Without Keith Raniere, there is no NXIVM Cult and, therefore, no story. In fact, it would be far more accurate to identify the NXIVM Cult as the Raniere Cult.
It is shameful that the Editor-in-Chief of The NYT Magazine, Jake Silverstein, relied solely upon his contributing staff writer, Vanessa Grigoriadis, to get the facts straight about a devious and deceptive multi-national cult that is also a multi-national criminal organization. Poor Vanessa, poor Jake, and poor New York Times Magazine. The Grey Lady should turn the red-wash color of their NXIVM cover with embarrassment!
On the cover of The NYT Magazine, the following words are emblazoned over the photo of Raniere: “Actresses And Socialites Fell Under The Sway Of A Guru Named Keith Raniere, Who Now Stands Accused Of Sex Trafficking. But The Truth May Be Even Creepier: The Group Made Women Feel As If They Were In Control.”
That the NXIVM Cult made women feel as if they were in control, comes as no surprise to those who have delved into the mind control techniques that the manipulative duo of Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman developed for both the Executive Success Program (ESP) Cult and the NXIVM Cult. Both Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman were trained in hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming). NLP is an extremely serious form of mind control, which is why it is called “programming.”Vanessa Grigoriadis tells us in her NYT Magazine story that ‘“Breaking down identity was only the first part of NXIVM – replacing your data with another, or “replacing data with data,” in NXIVM speak was the second part.”’ As far as it goes, that is a fair enough assessment of the mind-control strategy that Keith Raniere’s cult used.
Steven Hassan, a leading expert on cults, has defined mind control as “a system of influences which break the identity of the individual (his/her, behavior, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings) and replace it with a new identity.” As for the hypnosis training that Raniere and Salzman both had, George Hoben Estabrooks, a leading academic figure in the field of hypnosis, stated this: “Is hypnosis dangerous? It can be. Under certain circumstances, it is dangerous in the extreme. It has been known to lead to murder.”
One former advocate and practitioner of NLP quipped that the acronym (NLP) should stand for “Nothing Left in People.” This individual goes on to further describe NLP as “a conscious hypnosis that is being used on you constantly…you are hypnotized and the way that they hide it is by giving you the tools to hypnotize yourself, so, that you don’t care that you are being hypnotized.”
All that an NLP-empowered woman inside the NXIVM Cult had to do “to feel like she was in control” was to have her brand-new neurolinguistically-programmed identity sign up for another intensive, take another course, or turn over her collateral and get branded with a 2,200-degree cauterizing pen. Of course, she also would have had to join the exclusively-female Jness Cult, before she could be initialed nto the super-secret sorority, the DOS Cult.
Vanessa Grigoriadis also relates to the reader that “In Mexico, Raniere insisted to me that claiming he brainwashed anyone was ridiculous. Brainwashing was a farce, a scientific impossibility, and indoctrination can be positive.” Vanessa Grigoriadis does not tell us if she pushed back at all after Raniere made this ridiculous claim to her.
Brainwashing is a synonym for mind control, coercive persuasion, and indoctrination. The true ‘positive” benefit of indoctrination was for the benefit of the NXIVM Cult, for Keith Raniere, and for his band of criminals. Primarily, Keith Raniere and his NXIVM Cult benefited from the money that he and his co-conspirators sucked out of the bank accounts of their brainwashed victims. This self-styled guru even persuaded women to pay for the privilege of having sex with him as a result of their indoctrination, mind control, and disorientation. Keith Raniere was the mattoid leader of the criminal NXIVM Cult. Webster’s New College Dictionary defines mattoid, as “a person of unbalanced mind who is almost psychotic.”
In her magazine story, Vanessa Grigoriadis admits that “Raniere is a master of disorientation, of making people believe that up was down and down was up,” and that “Raniere began thinking more deeply about persuasion and how you could talk people into anything, even helping themselves.” This statement sounds a lot like the famous quote by Benito Mussolini that appeared in the London Sunday Express on December 03, 1935: “Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.” This quote by Il Duce sums up what the way of life was for the hardcore members of the NXIVM Cult, the majority of whom were gullible women who blindly followed their charismatic cult leader. Why would a master criminal like Keith Raniere admit that he was brainwashing the people when he was brainwashing?
Still, I am wondering why Vanessa Grigoriadis did not challenge Keith about his ridiculous claim that “Brainwashing was a farce, a scientific impossibility?” Had Vanessa Grigoriadis been indoctrinated into the NXIVM Cult without her realizing it? In her TV interview, she makes the following incredible statement: “He [Keith Raniere] was a pretty unique person, who’s extremely devoted to looking at the world in a different way than anyone else.” Good grief, what a monumental disgrace! Vanessa Grigoriadis did neither the due diligence nor adequate research on the NXIVM Cult before she fell in with that den of viperish viragos.
If she had done due diligence and adequate research, she would have learned Keith Raniere is a detestable criminal and an outright pervert who is on the record as having stated that fathers should have sex with their daughters. He is not “a pretty unique person.” There has been a slew of sex offenders, child-rapists, pedophiles, and perverts before him who have held the same or similar perverse ideas. The Marquis de Sade comes to mind. Keith Raniere and his cult cried out for serious research, but The NYT Magazine apparently did not heed that cry! How extremely sad.
According to Clare Bronfman’s sworn testimony, Keith Alan Raniere is “the conceptual founder of NXIVM Corporation. He holds the title of Vanguard in our company.” Vanguard is “a title that the corporation has given to the philosophical founder of the company: He is the Vanguard.” Although, in her story, Vanessa Grigoriadis points out fact that “[Nancy] Salzman owns NXIVM, and Raniere has nothing to do with it, officially,” there is no compelling reason to either think or believe that Keith Alan Raniere, aka “Vanguard,” is not the sole leader of the NXIVM Cult. As Susan Dones, a former NXIVM trainer, who “spent ten years on the training side,” stated: “Everyone knows that regardless of who the figurehead of NXIVM is…Raniere runs the show and makes ALL the decisions of who is doing what and when.” (“Susan Dones on the Record”; Frank Report, October 23, 2017.)
The title, of The New York Times Magazine feature, “The ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment,’” is also misleading. The DOS Cult was a secret society, a slave-cult for women only, within the NXIVM Cult. Strictly speaking, the DOS Cult itself is not a ‘Sex Cult.’ The DOS Cult served a dual purpose within NXIVM; it functioned both as a secretive slave-cult for women only and as a secretive sex-slave cult for women only. Nevertheless, the entire DOS Cult was intentionally hidden by Keith Raniere within the overall structure of the NXIVM Cult. What is more, Keith Raniere was not the only individual having sex with the sex-slaves of the DOS Cult; the female slave owners could require their slaves to have sex with them or to have sex with other women who were also slaves beneath them in the DOS-slave pyramid.
I do not think that there is any reason to doubt that the DOS Cult was contrived and controlled by Keith Raniere, regardless of the ludicrous claim that it was a woman’s idea to start the DOS Cult. There is no doubt that Keith Raniere would have had to have given the DOS Cult his stamp of approval. After all, he was the grandmaster of the DOS Cult! Nevertheless, he would have required the help of his chief procuress, Allison Mack, to manifest his dream of controlling a huge stable of compliant slave women. But Allison Mack likely had the help of such other unscrupulous high-ranking badass warrior bitches in the Jness Cult, as the Salzman duo and Clare Bronfman (“So supportive, so pure”) to help her to carry out her slave-master’s command to establish the DOS Cult. (As it turns out, these three above-mentioned women have been named in the indictments that were handed down on July 24, 2108.)
I believe that the DOS Cult was most likely set up by a deranged Keith Raniere to realize his ultimate sexual fantasies. He was in the process of creating a huge stream of female slaves and female sex partners, including under-age girls, when the defections from the DOS Cult began, and the news about the branding went public. There are reports that there were as many as 150 members in the secretive DOS Cult. Was being the grandmaster of 150 slave-women of the DOS Cult also the psychological means by which Keith Raniere was able to feel as though he had finally gained control over his alcoholic mother?
Was Grandmaster Keith Raniere eventually going to be trafficking some of these women for sex internationally, with the help of his good friend, Emiliano Salinas? After all, sex trafficking, which is one of the fastest growing international criminal enterprises, is even more lucrative than money laundering, drug smuggling or gun running. A sex slave can be sold for sex repeatedly. Should whoremaster be added to Keith Raniere’s curriculum vitae?
DOS is an acronym for Dominus Obsequentium Sororium, which is the grammatically correct Latin for this contraction. The correct translation of this Latin phrase is, ‘Master of the compliant sisters, compliant female playmates, or compliant female companions”. Take your pick; Keith Raniere sure did. The ever-pervasive and ever-persuasive puppet-master, Keith Raniere was the Grandmaster of both the female slaves and the female sex-slaves of DOS.
In her article, Grigoriadis states that Keith Raniere also told her that “He was a wandering prophet, not a mastermind.” Did she mention this absolute rubbish because she believed Keith Raniere? Keith Raniere, aka the Vanguard, was the charismatic leader of the NXIVM Cult. In her interview for Meaning of Life TV, even the naive Vanessa Grigoriadis admits that “Keith was kind of like the ultimate alpha…everybody in this group was very influenced by what he thought, by what he had to say. He was like the evolved being.”
A more apt description of Keith Raniere would be; “He was like the evil-minded manipulative son of a bitch.” Keith Raniere is the narcissistic, Machiavellian, and sadistic psychopath who resided at the rotten core of his own predatory cult of personality. Keith Alan Raniere is an alleged multiple child-rapist and a self-proclaimed murderer. He ran his cult as an extremely manipulative multi-level-marketing pyramid scheme. Within his cult of victimization, Keith Raniere treated people as though they were products to be consumed! Thank God that freaks like Keith Raniere don’t come along too frequently.
Keith Raniere was able to attract and hold the attention of a large cadre of women and a small company of men through his power of persuasion. He was the charismatic leader that his hardcore women followers adored. Charisma can be defined as personal magnetism or charm, or as a rare personal quality of leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm. As the “Vanguard,” Keith Raniere held all the power of charismatic authority within his NXIVM Cult.
A leader with charismatic authority “claims to have special powers or knowledge unavailable to others and which, therefore; entitle him to obedience from others not similarly blessed… When a group is regulated by a system of charismatic authority, it is typical for there to be a single person occupying the pinnacle of power; charismatic authority does not readily share the limelight. Because this figure is unable to perform all tasks necessary for the regulation of the group, of course, others are assigned positions… These assistants share in the charisma of the prophet or the leader by their association with him.”
Furthermore, “’charismatic authority never appears in a vacuum…By its very nature, charismatic authority poses a direct challenge to both tradition and law, whether in part or whole; instead, it derives from a ‘higher source’ which demands that people show it greater allegiance than they currently show towards other authorities…Charismatic authority is not stable and need not be consistent. It is characterized by movement and revolution – it is a means of overturning traditions and laws for an entirely new social and political order. In this, it carries the seeds of its destruction.”’ (q.v., “Types of Religious Authority; Charismatic Authority”; Thoughtco. @thoughtco.com)
In the case of NXIVM, this “‘higher source’” was the deliberately vague philosophical double talk and the deliberate deception of Keith Raniere, e.g., “Working to build a better world; a kinder, more sustainable, ethical world,” Blah, blah, blah – bullshit!
Apparently. the editors of The NYT Magazine made a conscious decision not to take an investigative route for their NXIVM story. Did the editors of The NYT Magazine not want a professionally investigated story about Keith Raniere and his NXIVM Cult to go mainstream? Why did Vanessa Grigoriadis not include more stories and more comments from people who had left the Raniere Cult? Why, instead, did she spend so much time focusing on the people who were still caught in the clutches of this cult? It is my opinion that The NYT Magazine story that Vanessa Grigoriadis wrote about the NXIVM Cult entirely missed the bigger story about Keith Alan Raniere. He is an alleged child-rapist, an alleged sexual predator, an alleged human trafficker, an alleged slave owner, a manifest pyramid-schemer, and a self-proclaimed killer. Why would Keith Raniere and his alleged crimes not have been the bigger or the biggest story?
Although it may be tempting for some folks to pull the conspiracy trigger on The NYT Magazine for its poorly conceived, poorly researched, and poorly written story on the NXIVM Cult, I think that that may be a wrong decision to make. After all, Jake Silverstein, the editor-in-chief of The NYT Magazine, is the same fellow who claims that he was distracted when he conscientiously tweeted a 2014 Obama-era photo of immigrant children in cages, as though this photo were a photo from May 2018. Nonetheless, Jake corrected his fake-news mistake on May 27, 2018, a week before the feature story on NXIVM was published. At least, Jake Silverstein was man enough to admit that he fell flat on his face for the caged-children photo from 2014. There are a lot of men and women who aren’t man or woman enough to admit when they are wrong.
For me, the take away from The New York Times Magazine’s NXIVM story is don’t send someone, as fatuous and as unqualified as Vanessa Grigoriadis, to cover such an important story about the highly-secretive NXIVM Cult and its Machiavellian leader. By doing so, The NYT Magazine did a disservice to all its loyal readers and to the public in general.
One can only hope that going forward that the New York Times Corporation will become more serious and responsible with its coverage of Keith Raniere and his NXIVM Cult. With the leveling of the new racketeering charges by the federal authorities and with the four newest defendants and with more indictments sure to follow, The New York Times has an opportunity to make amends for its inadequate coverage of the Raniere Cult for which it was responsible with its publication of The NYT Magazine feature on June 03, 2018.
The charge of racketeering conspiracy has been added to the charges of sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor already leveled against Allison Mack and Keith Raniere by federal authorities. Racketeering conspiracy is also the latest charge leveled by these same authorities against Clare Bronfman, Nancy Salzman, Lauren Salzman, and Kathy Russell, who, along with Allison Mack, are considered by these authorities to be Keith Raniere’s “inner circle.” The federal authorities also allege that ‘“they [the above-mentioned five women] comprised the second highest level within the DOS ‘pyramid’ and that, other than Keith Raniere, they wielded the most power within DOS.’” The racketeering conspiracy charge itself contains “an array of crimes, including identity theft, extortion, forced labor, sex trafficking, money laundering, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice.”