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17 May, 2019 21:14

‘Unlimited power’ or ‘ridiculous’: BuzzFeed brawls with Tony Robbins over hit piece

‘Unlimited power’ or ‘ridiculous’: BuzzFeed brawls with Tony Robbins over hit piece

After BuzzFeed published a scathing article accusing Tony Robbins of insulting rape victims and even sexual assault, the self-help superstar hit back by denying the claims and attacking the notorious outlet as peddling falsehoods.

While BuzzFeed is not exactly known for commitment to journalistic standards – recall that they published the dodgy ‘Steele dossier’ alleging Trump collusion with Russia – their hit piece on Robbins targeted precisely the thing he relies on most of all to run his multi-million dollar self-help business: his image.

In their article published Friday, BuzzFeed authors Katie Baker and Jane Bradley paint Robbins as a greedy tyrant running a secretive empire, using fear to manipulate people looking for help. Scrolling past a demonically smiling caricature of Robbins, the all-caps slogan "UNLIMITED POWER" sets the tone for the hit piece, compiled from "leaked recordings, internal documents, and dozens of interviews with fans and insiders" collected over the course of a year.

The authors say that Robins was not just after his follower's money (his sessions can cost up to a whopping $85,000 a year), but that he has also "created a highly sexualized environment in which both men and women have been told to touch themselves intimately and simulate orgasms." They also claim that Robins had "berated abuse victims and subjected his followers to unorthodox and potentially dangerous techniques."

While recordings of Robins' sessions are prohibited, a secret recording has him responding to a woman who came forward about her husband being violent toward her, asking: "Does he put up with you when you've been a crazy bitch?"

The authors claimed their piece for the 'Me Too' movement, this time targeting the self-help industry which they feel is ripe for abuse by charismatic figures with appetites for power.

Responding on social media on Friday, Robbins attempted to debunk the accusations by providing testimony from people interviewed by BuzzFeed, who said the reporters had misrepresented them, and pointing out that the journalists refused to meet with his team to get the other side of the story.

"Your claims range from indistinct to ridiculous," Robins retorted, claiming that witnesses who contradicted the BuzzFeed's "predetermined thesis" were "harassed and lied to" during the investigation. He also reminding readers of a Pew Research poll that deemed BuzzFeed among the least trusted names in all of journalism.

He ended his letter with a call to take a stand against the click-bait king:

Millions of people have experienced life-changing breakthroughs and transformations on our journey of growth and I invite them to join me now to stop BuzzFeed and others from tearing our society down by denying and mischaracterizing the truth. Enough is enough.

The BuzzFeed article seemed to get some traction on social networks, with many commenters on Twitter sharing outrage gifs, harsh words, and strong disagreement with Robbins and his methods. People were particularly angry over the secret recordings where Robbins can be heard berating his clients.

There were those who defended the guru, however, that the recording was taken out of context and that it was actually part of a therapy technique meant to encourage an emotional breakthrough.

The center of disagreement appeared to stem between opposing outlooks on the question of "victimhood" versus "self-empowerment." The journalists criticize Robbins' opposition to a "culture that rewards self-victimizing," highlighting his criticisms of the Me Too movement as though it were a part of their indictment... Robins response continued his early comments on the movement, although coded in his brand of glossy optimistic self-help rhetoric: "I pray that, out of all of this, we can choose to unite rather than separate; to drop our judgments and criticisms, and look for the goodness in each other."

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