Journalist Michelle Goldberg | Salon.com | "Untouchable" | "Sai Baba: Pedophile or God incarnate?" | July 25th 2001
Michelle Goldberg Menu (click on a link to go to relevant section):
- Introduction To Goldberg, Michelle And Her Salon.com Article
- Email Correspondence Between Michelle Goldberg And Glen Meloy
- Michelle Goldberg's First-Hand Interviews
- Goldberg's Shabby Research And Exaggerated Claims
- Michelle Goldberg's Failure To Verify Hari Sampath's Claims
- Michelle Goldberg Contacts Anti-Sai Activists Again
- In Conclusion
On July 25th 2001, Michelle Goldberg published a Salon.com (an internet news resource) article about Sathya Sai Baba entitled "Untouchable?". This article had a comments section entitled "Sai Baba: Pedophile or God incarnate?".
After reading the "Untouchable?" article, it was clear to me that it was thoroughly slanted against Sathya Sai Baba. After doing some research, I found a startling set of email correspondence between Glen Meloy (an Anti-Sai Activist) and Michelle Goldberg that "filled in the gaps", so to speak. Not only did Michelle Goldberg say to Meloy, "Thanks again for all your help", she also said she hoped her article would "bring much attention to your struggle". Glen Meloy reciprocated and told Goldberg that it was "a privilege to work with you" (meaning they were working together, compiling information against Sathya Sai Baba).
Email correspondence between Michelle Goldberg and Glen Meloy (an Anti-Sai Activist) divulged on the "hetnet.nl/~exbaba" site (the largest Anti-Sai Site on the world-wide-web):
Dear Former Devotees, Devotees, Friends and Supporters of Truth and Goodness, I am pleased to share with all of you that we have finally had a major breakthrough today in the USA, wherein salon.com has now published a major cover story on Sai baba entitled...Untouchable? Sai Baba, perhaps the most powerful holy man in India, is also an alleged pedophile. By Michelle Goldberg
You can view it online and print it out from:
When you have finished reading the story, please write a short thank you note to Michelle and the Editors. You can do this at the end of the story in the section entitled: Sound Off - Send us a Letter to the Editor
You can also send a personal note of thanks directly to Michelle (See her letter below).
For Love, Truth and Goodness,
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 21:22:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: salon story
Dear Mr. Meloy,
I'm writing to let you know that my piece on Sai Baba will run as a Salon cover story tomorrow (Wednesday). I apologize for not having the time to pursue every angle of the story, but I think the final piece (more than 2000 words longer than it was originally assigned) will bring much attention to your struggle.
Thanks again for all your help.
Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 23:33:29 -0700
To: Michelle Goldberg email@example.com
Subject: Salon.com Cover Story entitled "Untouchable"?
All former devotees and supporters of Truth and Goodness appreciate your shining the spotlight of Truth on the dark side of Sathya Sai Baba who calls himself God .
Hopefully your story will open the eyes and touch the hearts of the American people and that it will be syndicated throughout the world media until this evil molester of children is brought to justice; and that his organization is exposed and held accountable for covering up these heinous acts for over 40 years.
We thank you for your excellent writing and may it soon be proved that he is indeed... NOT Untouchable.
It has been a privilege to work with you and I hope the editors of Salon.com will consider allowing you to do a follow-up story on all the other leads and material that has been furnished to you.
Our Heartfelt Thanks from all of us,
In the "Untouchable?" article, Michelle Goldberg only interviewed the following Sai Critics first-hand:
- Glen Meloy (an Anti-Sai Activist)
- Hari Sampath (an Anti-Sai Activist)
In the "Untouchable?" article, Michelle Goldberg only interviewed the following alleged sexual abuse victims first-hand:
- Jed Geyerhahn (an alleged molestation victim)
- Said Afshin Khorramshahgol (an alleged molestation victim)
In the "Untouchable?" article, Michelle Goldberg only interviewed the following Sai Devotees first-hand:
- An unnamed female Sai Devotee from Denmark. No mention is made of her expressing any opinion about the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.
- An unnamed female Sai Devotee from Buenos Aires. No mention is made of her expressing any opinion about the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.
- An unnamed female Sai Devotee from Holland. No mention is made of her expressing any opinion about the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.
- A male Sai Devotee named "George Leland". Leland expressed the opinion that the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba were true (although he also expressed the opinion that Baba was "the most powerful being that ever came to the planet").
- A male Sai Devotee named "Rico Mario Haus". Haus expressed the opinion that the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba were completely false.
- An unnamed Indian "director of the Sai Organization". He expressed the opinion that the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba were completely false.
- "But the guru's alleged interest in his followers' phalli is pretty much an open secret among old hands at the ashram. The eerie thing about this story isn't just the evidence of widespread sexual abuse..."
- "What's also strange is that many of Sai's followers seem to accept that their chastity-preaching guru takes young men, including minors, into a private chamber, asks them to drop their pants, masturbates them and occasionally demands blow jobs. They believe the stories, and they believe that he's God."
When there was only one Sai Devotee (out of the 6) who expressed the opinion that the allegations were probably true, where did Goldberg get her information from that convinced her to make the claims she did? She only spoke to one Sai Devotee who believed the allegations. This hardly makes the case for her claims of "evidence of widespread sexual abuse" and "many of Sai's followers seem to accept...". This amounts to nothing less than bold-faced distortions and blatant exaggerations of the truth by Michelle Goldberg.
Despite only interviewing two alleged victims (both of whom stated that they initially saw nothing sexual in what Sathya Sai Baba did to them) and making references to stories she read, but never verified first-hand, Goldberg had the audacity to state that there was "evidence of widespread sexual abuse". Goldberg also referred to the allegations of Hans De Kraker, Conny Larsson, David Bailey and Tal Brooke to form her speculations (although she never interviewed these alleged victims first-hand).
In the Salon.com article, Goldberg reported that Hari Sampath was "petitioning India's Supreme Court to order the central government to investigate Sai Baba". In the following email correspondence, Goldberg acknowledged that she never verified Hari Sampath's claim that he was petitioning the Supreme Court. As a matter of fact, Hari Sampath publicly claimed that he petitioned (past tense) the Supreme Court on May 8th 2001, yet told Goldberg he was "petitioning" (present tense) the Supreme Court in July 2001. More contradictions from Hari Sampath and more failures from Goldberg to double-check claims.
Lisa De Witt:
Dear Ms. Goldberg,
Regarding Hari Sampath and the Sathya Sai Baba issue, can you please tell me if Hari ever actually showed you concrete proof he had filed a case with the Supreme Court of India? According to your July 25, 2001 article, Untouchable?, he had a case pending with the Supreme Court in India.
Yet, according to posts Hari made on the Anthony Thomas quicktopic board, the Supreme Court had, as of a decision on May 8, 2001, referred him to the High Court of India under article 37. I have checked the Supreme Court online records for May 8, 2001 and can find no such case decision.
Lisa De Witt
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2005 06:41:35 -0800 (PST)
From: "michelle goldberg"
Subject: Re: Hari Sampath
To: "Lisa De Witt"
I'm sorry I didn't get back to you sooner -- I rarely check this email address. Hari never showed me any documentation -- I was in India at the time I wrote that story, and he was in Chicago, if I remember correctly. I relied on his word and the confirmation of a journalist who was working on the same story for one of the major Indian weeklies. Honestly, though, all this was four years ago, and I don't remember all the details.
Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
On the snowcrest.net site, Goldberg contacted Anti-Sai Activists again:
07-12-2001 09:27 AM
I'm an American journalist working on an article about Sai Baba for Salon Magazine. I recently spent a week in Puttaparthi talking to Sai devotees, and am now eager to get the other side of the story. I especially need to speak with people who have been victims of sexual abuse by Sai Baba; I've heard countless stories second-hand but need first-hand sources if I'm to publicize these charges. As I'm currently in India, the best way to get in touch with me is via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you,
There is little doubt that Michelle Goldberg worked with Anti-Sai Activists and purposely slanted her article in their favor. Needless to say, this hidden bias was never publicly divulged in her article.
Michelle Goldberg spent one week in India interviewing 6 Sai Devotees (only asking 3 about the allegations) and obtained a single admission from one non-notable Sai Devotee who expressed the opinion that he believed the allegations were probably true. After getting this single admission, Goldberg claimed that there was "evidence of widespread sexual abuse" and that "Sai's followers seem to accept that their chastity-preaching guru takes young men, including minors, into a private chamber, asks them to drop their pants, masturbates them and occasionally demands blow jobs". These stunning and unsubstantiated comments wholly compromise Goldberg's integrity.
After returning from her one-week jaunt at Baba's ashram, Goldberg wrote to Anti-Sai Activists saying she was "eager to get the other side of the story". Hold on! Is asking 3 non-notable Sai Devotees their opinions about the allegations one side of the story?
Undoubtedly, Michelle Goldberg heavily relied on the words and views of Anti-Sai Activists. This was confirmed in her private email correspondence with Glen Meloy in which she said "Thanks again for all your help" and that she hoped her article would "bring much attention to your struggle". Glen Meloy reciprocated and said "it has been a privilege to work with you".
It is exactly this type of hidden bias and shabby research that is responsible for misleading so many people about Sathya Sai Baba. Anti-Sai Activists have often boasted about being responsible for various negative media articles against Sathya Sai Baba. Ex-devotees have similarly boasted about their involvement with Michelle Goldberg's salon.com article. Therefore, the general public needs to be fully informed about the Anti-Sai "behind-the-scenes" influence that is directly responsible for negative media against Sathya Sai Baba.