Introducing Season 2 of Uncover with host Ian Hanomansing
In this special Q&A episode, host Josh Bloch of Escaping NXIVM sits down with Ian Hanomansing, one of the hosts of season two of Uncover, an investigative series from CBC Podcasts. They discuss the making of season one, address frequently asked questions from listeners and reveal exciting details about the upcoming season.
The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to Josh and Ian's full conversation at the top of this post.
IAN HANOMANSING: When you do a project like [Uncover: Escaping NXIVM], you're dealing with somebody who is a friend of yours for a long time and the podcast gets so much attention — she gets so much attention. How has the experience been for you and your relationship with her?
JOSH BLOCH: On the one hand, it really amplified the feelings that we always have when we cover a story, around getting a story right. We always want to get the story right, but in this case, I know the person whose story I'm telling and I really felt that obligation more acutely.
The other side of it was, I was kind of aware that people might perceive my journalism as being biased or influenced by the fact that I know her. And so I felt also more acutely that I need to be balanced in the storytelling and make sure that we were seeing it through a critical lens. Sarah has told me that she also struggles with it because she has put herself out there and opened herself up to scrunity.
We always want to get the story right, but in this case ... I really felt that obligation more acutely.- Josh Bloch
Behind the interview with Keith Raniere's lawyer
IH: Raniere's lawyer was fascinating in the podcast. I expected to hear that the lawyer wouldn't talk, that he would threaten to sue you to the Stone Age if you dared to make any allegations. Take me behind the scenes of that or even inside your head as you were doing the interview with him.
JB: We also were surprised and grateful. Over the course of the investigation, we had tried very hard to speak to anyone inside NXIVM or anyone that would be able to give us another perspective on the story we were trying to tell. So we were really happy that he agreed to an interview and came forward. It was really useful and helpful for us to get an understanding of the perspective from people who support NXIVM.
I was also really surprised at how charming he was on a certain level. Going into it, I thought this is going to be a kind of antagonistic interview and he is going to jump down my throat if I suggest anything that he doesn't agree with. And that was not what happened. I actually found it to be a really engaging conversation, even if I didn't agree with everything that he was saying.
Parallels between NXIVM and Scientology
IH: I was at the Just For Laughs Festival — the comedy festival here in Toronto — sitting next to a guy. And we started chatting about Escaping NXIVM. We'd both been listening to the podcast. And then the guy said to me, "I was a member of a cult." And then he talked about his involvement for years in Scientology, which he used the word "cult" to describe that. I know that people have drawn parallels between NXIVM and groups like Scientology. So for the leader of NXIVM, Keith Raniere, was he influenced at all by either Scientology or other, depending on your perspective, cult-like organizations?
JB: There was a couple of people that have made that connection. This woman that we interviewed said they talked about Scientology and Keith talked about Scientology as a really incredible money maker. He said that's where the money is. It's in creating a religion. They decided not to go that route. The first company he created was a multilevel marketing company that had nothing to do really with what NXIVM was or with what Scientology is. But it seems like it was on his radar.
One man we talked to, Rick Ross, who had analyzed some of the NXIVM curriculum, has claimed that there are many elements within the curriculum that are borrowed from Scientology.
Experts will say all these kinds of groups tend to operate in the same way.- Josh Bloch
Now other experts will say all these kinds of groups tend to operate in the same way and if you study three or four or five of them, you start to see the same patterns occurring again and again and again. But some people point to the fact that there does seem to even be terminology like "suppressives" that was used in NXIVM and has been used in Scientology as well.
IH: So is this going to be your life's work now? How do you move onto your next thing?
JB: The trial is coming up. Right now it's slated for March. It may be pushed a little bit later. There's a lot of information that they're trying to analyze and work through. I will be doing some kind of coverage and providing updates when that trial is happening. Speaking of the next project, I want to ask you about season two and I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about the story that you are looking into in season two of Uncover.
Season two, Uncover: Bomb on Board
IH: The title of season two is Uncover: Bomb on Board and it's a podcast that I'm working away on with some of the same team members who worked with you. The co-host is Johanna Wagstaffe, who is a meteorologist and science reporter from Vancouver where I was based for a long time. And this is a co-production with The National.
This is a story about a plane crash back on July 8, 1965. It was CP Flight 21 and it was headed from Vancouver to Prince George. It exploded in midair. People on the ground — even though this happened in a remote area of British Columbia — actually heard the explosion, looked up, saw the tail section of this plane fall to the ground. All 52 people on board this plane were killed.
People on the ground ... actually heard the explosion, looked up, saw the tail section of this plane fall to the ground.- Ian Hanomansing
And when you look at the newspaper coverage of this the next day, literally as you would expect, front page stories coast to coast. And even at that point — it must have just been a couple of hours after the crash these stories were written — already people were talking about how it seemed likely that it had been a bomb on this plane that led to the crash. And yet 53 years later, this remains unsolved.
JB: It's amazing — I think I'm probably not alone in this — that I had never heard of this case.
IH: So that's certainly one of the things that drew me to this story. It's really strange that it got such widespread news coverage at the time and yet it seemed to recede from the memories of the people who were alive at the time. It's never really been part of the history, the folklore of the area. Some of these stories of plane crashes are stories that people remember and talk about. So how did this one get forgotten, especially when you consider that it was not just a plane crash, but that it was a bomb?
And yet, you talk to the family members of the people who were on board — they certainly remember — and it's not hard to get them to speak about what happened. So we've been doing a pretty extensive investigation. We have talked to modern day air crash investigator and explosives expert; a criminologist, who used to be a police officer with an interest in cold cases, to try to move this case forward and try to get the answer to this 53-year-old mystery: who put that bomb on the plane?
Season two of Uncover: Bomb on Board launches Monday, Nov. 12.