Last modified on 13 November 2013, at 16:53

Werner Erhard (60 Minutes)

Werner Erhard is an investigative journalism piece by 60 Minutes about Werner Erhard. It was hosted by journalist Ed Bradley of CBS News and broadcast on CBS in the United States on March 3, 1991.

QuotesEdit

Alphabetized by author
Werner Erhard in 1979
  • Since the 1970s some seven-hundred-thousand people have signed up for a self-improvement called 'est', or as it's now called 'The Forum.' Est was the brainchild of a former used-car salesman named Jack Rosenberg. Back in the sixties, Rosenberg deserted his wife and four children in Philadelphia, changed his name to Werner Hans Erhard, and moved to California where he started another family, and, came up with the idea for est.
  • In a nutshell, Erhard's message was this: If you are in a rut, the problem isn't your parents, your boss or the system, it's you. Take responsibility, Erhard said, and you can transform your life overnight.
  • Who was the role model, the living example of what the est Training could do? Who else but Werner Erhard, a man some of his employees say, thought of himself, as god.
  • They said some true things about their father that are terrible.
    • Dawn Damas, former governess to the family of Werner Erhard
  • There's something about the fact that he is still out there doing all this and people still believe in him. This man still gets people sitting in an audience looking up at him, believing, that what he says is just so wonderful.
    • Dawn Damas
  • I would never have believed that I, could be a person who would wind up in a cult...And yet, certainly mind control was involved. And if that's what cults do, and they set up a leader to be bigger than anybody else, a god-like figure, I would say yes, that was true in the organization.
    • Wendy Drucker, high-level manager who was employed by Werner Erhard for 9 years
  • We were told to surrender to him as 'source.' I think that's idolatry.
    • Wendy Drucker
  • This was not like, being an employee. This was like being, a servant, or a devotee.
    • Wendy Drucker
  • There is only one appropriate response to these allegations, to heal and restore my family. And that is what I will do. To respond to the accusations at this time, would only further publicly exploit my family, and there has already been enough of that.
    • Werner Erhard
  • I am god...he did say sometimes in staff meetings.
    • Dr. Bob Larzelere, former Director of the Well Being Department at Erhard Seminars Training

AboutEdit

Alphabetized by author
Werner Erhard in 2010
  • Steven Pressman, a legal journalist, nicely recounts the bizarre tale, partly known already from muckraking magazine articles and a 1991 "60 Minutes" exposé. Particularly good on Erhard's Byzantine financial and legal affairs, he also conveys Erhard's callous egomania and the nastiness of the est seminars, where 'body catchers' and barf bags were available for people who fainted or vomited under the trainers' brutal, foul-mouthed harangues.
  • Werner Erhard, last sighted in Costa Rica, has dropped his megabucks libel suit against CBS' 60 Minutes, which did a number on him about a year ago. Nice guy that he is, he sent checks for $100 to each of the 20 defendants to cover the filing fee they had to pay to answer his charges of 'a conspiracy to defame and ruin me'.
  • Last week, Erhard attorney Susan Harriman, a colleague of Keker, described the 60 Minutes segment as a 'hatchet job' that 'succeeded in portraying Erhard as a depraved monster.' According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Harriman's court filings include the results of a lie detector test in which Erhard denied ever sexually molesting, raping or abusing any of his children.
  • Erhard has not been seen publicly for several months, having disappeared after one of his daughters accused him in a televised interview on 60 Minutes of molesting her. Shortly before Erhard disappeared, the IRS seized $ 7 million of his property, al leging that he had claimed phony income tax deductions. Through a spokesman, Erhard has denied both allegations. The Forum, one of several properties Erhard sold in the last few years, was bought by Landmark, according to a spokeswoman.
  • Werner Erhard has been sued successfully (his defenders say the plaintiffs won only because he did not show up in court to make his case), and he sued 60 Minutes himself for its 1991 story. Erhard later dropped the suit, he told Larry King during a December 1993 radio interview, because his lawyers told him he would have to prove not only that the TV show knew the material aired wasn't true, but that 60 Minutes used it maliciously. To King, Erhard denied the allegations of sexual and physical abuse, saying his family members had been pressured by CBS and had since recanted.
  • 60 Minutes was about to air a story in which one of Erhard's daughters claimed he had molested her and raped her sister. (Erhard denied the allegations, and the daughter later said that a journalist induced her to make them with the promise of a million-dollar book deal.) The IRS was taking an interest in an elaborate system of companies that Erhard's lawyer Harry Margolis had set up for him. (One of Erhard's lawyers says that Erhard and the IRS have resolved their differences.) The implication in the media was that Erhard simply fled to avoid these troubles.
  • In 1991, 60 Minutes ran a damning profile of charismatic EST founder Werner Erhard (born Jack Rosenberg). A onetime student of Scientology, Erhard was accused of sexual and physical abuse by his family, though some of those claims were later recanted. That same year, Erhard sold out to Landmark Education, which continues to attract millions of followers from all over the world. Landmark is now run by Erhard's brother and sister.
  • The low point was a March 3, 1991, segment on the CBS program 60 Minutes that interviewed three of his daughters about the alleged abuse. (Erhard denied it.)
    • Al Ries (2007). Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It. HarperBusiness. p. 164. ISBN 978-0060799908. 
  • After an hour of 60 Minutes, Erhard was as dead as Audi. One might have thought that Werner Erhard, the company, was beyond saving. Not true. The name was destroyed, but not the company.
    • Al Ries (2007). Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It. HarperBusiness. p. 164. ISBN 978-0060799908. 
  • Before the CBS program ran, but with knowledge of what it would likely say, Erhard sold the assets of Werner Erhard & Associates to his former employees and moved to Costa Rica. The new name: Landmark Education Corporation.
    • Al Ries (2007). Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It. HarperBusiness. p. 164. ISBN 978-0060799908. 
  • CBS News reported allegations of incest, rape and spousal abuse made against Werner Erhard by his daughters and former employees. Not long after the airing of this program Erhard sold his company reportedly to his employees and went into prolonged seclusion. The for profit privately owned company, which still sells the Forum and other training courses, is now known as 'Landmark Education' and headed by Werner Erhard's brother and sister.
  • Erhard's lawyers sent CBS affidavits from his sister and brother and from a few of his close associates disputing some of the stories from his children and denying that Erhard ever abused his wife.
  • One of his daughters went on 60 Minutes to air allegations of sexual abuse. Erhard sold his 'technology' to his employees and left the country. No criminal charges were ever filed against Erhard, and the claims were never proven; his daughter later recanted and said she was coerced by a San Jose Mercury News reporter into making the abuse allegations. Erhard later sued the IRS, claiming it made false statements about him, and the agency settled with him for $200,000. Still, the damage was done. Erhard was out, and Landmark was in. The new company, Landmark Education, was incorporated in California in 1991 and is headquartered in San Francisco, owned by its employees and led by Erhard's brother Harry Rosenberg, the chief executive officer.

See alsoEdit

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