ESPN Honors Media Coverup of Jonestown Murders
Jonestown Apologists Alert
October 7, 2007
“Strike 3” For Nelson’s Cult Apologist Propaganda–While ESPN Honors Big Media Coverup Of Jonestown Prelude
Three weeks ago, the Television Community shut down Stanley Nelson’s “Jonestown” film fraud, denying it even one single Emmy, just as the Movie Folks had down earlier this year when their Academy refused him an Oscar. And for damn good reason. Bravo.
Now comes more bad news for the smoke and mirrors show our director was hoping would throw everyone into a half-nelson stranglehold on reality.
Late last week, the International Documentary Association released its official 25 Best Documentaries List. So where did Stan’s Grand Sham fall on the list? If not number 1, was it, oh, number 5? How about 10th place? Twentieth? Don’t tell me—last place?
No, it appears that the Indie folks are just as wise as those in the TV and Academy communities in recognizing a wildly disingenuous work of art. Thumbs down.
So, three times a loser you are. No matter how many naive bloggers or disreputable media mavens sound the praises for this 90-minute delusion fest, the real vote is now IN. Stan, you might want to temper your habit of making idiotic statements about the things you “learned” from Cult Apologists Central, i.e., Becky Moore and “Mac” McGehee.
“It was something that was sane, rational and made people feel good,” claimed Nelson when questioned about the cult’s pre-Jonestown horrors that went on for years in California, prior to the exodus to Guyana. Of course there’s little chance our official media pundits will provide any real information whatsoever regarding the San Francisco Examiner’s–and rest of Big Media’s–disgraceful cowering at Jim Jones’s cloven feet throughout the 1972-77 period, when the Temple cult was building a nightmare.
If anything, our mass media, from the New York Times all the way down to the lowliest radio station, either neglected their duty, or outright promoted Jones’s “socially progessive church” facade that concealed a criminal enterprise that featured fraud, extortion, death threats, forced labor, child abuse, and very possibly, a least six still-unsolved murders in California (including “unneeded member” Maxine Harpe, a mother of three.)
And the elites that run these newspapers, radio, and TV networks today want VERY MUCH not to talk about it.
It is time for them to fess up, instead of covering up. Be brave and tell the truth for a change. How much longer will we continue receiving this vintage sludge on the People’s Temple saga, that “Fair and Balanced” kind of myth-making that the right-wing partison Fox News Channel so efficiently shovels out to us each and every day?
THAT, in essence, is what facilitated the tragedy at Jonestown. The media editors and publishers today almost universally agree to continue in the cover up of their companies’ craven behavior. They were shaking in their wingtips over the thought of being sued by Jones’s legal strongman, Tim Stoen (who, despite his apology to my father, continues to deny much of his key role in the Temple litany of crimes.)
There has, however, been a faint glimmer of hope recently that the wall of media silence could start breaking down. Last August, Southampton Press (N.Y.) columnist Tom Clavin wrote this follow-up to a story earlier in the summer by former NBC reporter Pat Lynch. For those with a conscience, let the blood boil…
Jonestown: Was the Story Spiked?
Pat Lynch, the first female investigative reporter for NBC Evening News, was in the midst of her second consecutive hot story. She had already broken the story about the money schemes and the intimidation tactics of the Synanon cult in California, and as a result had her life threatened numerous times. In the fall of 1978, she was taking on another cult: Jim Jones and his followers of the Peoples Temple.
Apparently, she was undaunted by the threats, even though that May, while filming Synanon’s property from a deserted public road in Marshall, California, she and her crew were confronted by armed men and women with shaved heads who held the journalists captive at gunpoint for three hours. Lynch later learned of a lawyer who had successfully sued the cult and who almost died after being bitten by a rattlesnake hidden in his mailbox. (The 20-year-old son of the band leader Stan Kenton and a second Synanon member were charged with the crime.)
Her “Segment 3” reports on Synanon that aired on NBC Evening News (anchored at that time by John Chancellor) had earned so much attention from viewers and others in the news media that NBC went ahead with a series on cults in America. The Peoples Temple was next up. Lynch and her crew had filmed as much as a dozen hours of interviews with Jones’ followers, his detractors, and former cult members, and that tape had been edited down to a multi-part series. It was to begin airing in October 1978, shortly before a delegation led by Rep. Leo Ryan was to travel to Jonestown to investigate complaints by former cult members of abuse.
The Peoples Temple was founded in the 1950s in Indianapolis. Jones had become the head of it by 1965, when he and 140 followers moved to Mendocino County in California in the belief that they stood a better chance there of surviving a nuclear war. In 1974, the group leased 3,000 acres in Guyana, and Jones and over a thousand members of the cult moved there three years later.
Gordon Lindsay, a British journalist, had interviewed former Peoples Temple members who detailed physical and psychological torture, drug use, child abuse, and other actions that were taking place in Jonestown. Also described was Jones’ use of alcohol and drugs and his increasing paranoia, plus the so-called “white nights” when Jones would have members rehearse a mass suicide. Reading Lindsay’s report is what prompted Lynch to pursue the cult as a story after the Synanon series.
The Peoples Temple series was never broadcast. It still has not seen the light of day. Of the hours of footage Lynch turned in, NBC claims that only 18 minutes exist.
“It’s the story of The Insider with NBC replacing CBS as the network that caved in,” said Lynch, referring to the movie starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe about 60 Minutes initially refusing to air a segment on malpractices in the tobacco industry. “This is a similar story of a journalist who got hold of a great story that was going to cost the network a lot of money and a lot of grief, and they backed off.”
Lynch stated: “I believe that if the story was broadcast when it was supposed to be, showing how dangerous a man Jim Jones had become, the people in Jonestown would not have died. Instead, the story was buried along with those unfortunate people.”
The two top NBC executives involved at the time were Fred Silverman, president of the network, who had been a successful producer of shows like Charlie’s Angels, and Lester Crystal, president of NBC News (and now a producer with PBS). Synanon members had staked out the apartment building in New York where Silverman and his family lived. (The headline “NBC Boss Life Threatened” blared in The New York Post.) Letters containing death threats had been sent to NBC, with Silverman and Crystal turning them over to the FBI. According to Lynch, her Jonestown series was spiked because NBC executives feared there would be a violent response from Jones’s followers.
Instead, NBC reporter Don Harris and a crew with Bob Brown as cameraman were assigned to go to Jonestown and cover the activities of the Ryan delegation and reports that some cult members were being held against their will. “I really didn’t see it coming, I was so idealistic then,” said Lynch.
She tried desperately to reach Harris by phone or in person while he was in New York on November 13 to brief him on the mental deterioration of Jones and his followers, but he and NBC executives refused to talk to her. That same day, NBC issued a press release stating that a show about cults was being “temporarily halted” for valid journalistic reasons. The press release added that “NBC News has not been pressured by anyone to drop the work on this story.”
Five days later and only an hour after he had deliberately asked Jones several provocative questions, Harris was dead. So was Brown, Ryan, a news photographer, and 918 residents of Jonestown, including 300 children, victims of murder and suicide. The twisted mind of Jim Jones had finally snapped.
“I was in New York, and Gordon Lindsay was the first to call me.” Lynch recalled. “He was in Georgetown [Guyana’s capital], and it saved his life that Jim Jones would not let him into Jonestown with the NBS crew. A plane had just come in carrying the most severely wounded and some of the dead. ‘Pat,’ he said, ‘it’s happening right now, the white night is happening.’ And they all died.”
Lynch resigned from NBC and looked for another job. Though a young woman, she was already a veteran newsperson. She began as a staff writer for CBS News, then was a writer and producer on the Twenty-First Century science series with Walter Cronkite. After leaving NBC, she went to work for ABC News. But after Silverman and Crystal were ousted — the latter denied in a January 3, 1979 article he penned in Variety that any threatening letters had been received — Lynch returned to NBC to work with Tom Brokaw.
Her next hot story was on the seemingly illegal activities of Lyndon LaRouche, who has run for president every four years since 1976 and whose organization has been accused of being an anti-Semitic cult. He was convicted in 1988 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and tax code violations, and served five years in prison. Lynch went on to return to CBS on Street Stories with Ed Bradley and Eye to Eye with Connie Chung. Among the kudos for her are two Emmy Awards out of 10 nominations and a DuPont Award from Columbia University for investigative reporting.
“I’ve never written about the Jonestown story, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t kept thinking about it,” said Lynch, interviewed at her home in Southampton. “I had sort of resigned myself that it would never be told . . . but then things changed.”
What revived her desire to get the story out is that recently Lynch has received queries from editors and producers in the U.S. and from Canada, South Africa, and Australia who are embarking on Jonestown-related stories to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the cult community in Guyana. All have asked the same question of Lynch: “Did you shoot more than 18 minutes of film?”
“We shot in 20-minute sections and then put the film in a canister,” Lynch recalled. “There were between 20 and 30 canisters. In addition to that, I personally screened more than three hours of dramatic footage shot inside Jonestown by the cameraman who died doing his job. What happened to it?”
Lynch said that after the Jonestown tragedy the canisters of film were put under lock and key by NBC. Only the FBI was granted access to them, and the agency made copies of the film Lynch and her crew had shot and footage that had been recovered from Harris’s crew. Lynch said, “It is very hard to believe now that all that material was just accidentally lost.”
She added: “The recent queries from filmmakers have inspired me to start my investigation of the Peoples Temple once again. In two years all the classified material about the massacre is supposed to be released to the public. The government has kept their secrets well for almost 30 years.”
Theories abound as to why the FBI, CIA, and the State Department have kept documents about the Peoples Temple classified for decades. One was voiced by Rep. Leo Ryan’s mother, who told Lynch, “It’s a massive government and intelligence cover-up.” Ryan had co-sponsored a bill in Congress that required prior congressional approval of all CIA covert operations, and testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee revealed that Jonestown was part of a CIA covert operation in Guyana. Ryan may have been the target of an operation that went terribly awry.
“I can confirm based on the investigating I’ve done for almost 30 years that the U.S. government knows a lot more about the Peoples Temple and what happened at Jonestown than it has ever admitted to,” stated Steve Katsaris.
Katsaris lives is Montana and is the founder and head of Concerned Relatives. The organization was founded after the Jonestown massacre to press for more information about the alleged involvement of U.S. government and Guyanese government agencies in Peoples Temple activities and the subsequent deaths of over 900 people. Katsaris’s daughter, Maria, had been the treasurer of the People’s Temple and died with most of Jones’s other followers on November 18, 1978.
“The whole thing has a lot of seamy sides to it, and has never been adequately explained,” said Katsaris, who was in Guyana trying to persuade his daughter to leave Jonestown when the final “white night” took place. “It can only help the effort to find the truth with Pat Lynch renewing her investigations.”
Lynch is aiming to tell “the real truth about the Jonestown massacre” in a book, which would include how her Peoples Temple series was compiled and then scuttled. A priority is to try to track down the missing NBC footage. Lynch has obtained from the Jonestown Institute in California, which collects primary source information on the Peoples Temple, a three-hour pirated tape with footage lensed by Bob Brown and proof via a Freedom of Information Act request that the FBI is in possession of the 12 hours of footage from NBC. The institute has launched a lawsuit to acquire all Peoples Temple material that the FBI has.
Another part of the story is the possibility that Lynch was the object of gender discrimination. There was very little support at the time in television news for female investigative reporters, and Lynch was on her own at NBC. “This wouldn’t have happened to a man, I’m sure of it,” she said. “I don’t know why I just didn’t say that then. Those were macho times. I was an alien female in a man’s world, which is what investigative journalism was back then. Don Harris was a macho guy who had covered the war in Vietnam. He wasn’t going to heed warnings from a woman. And that killed him.”
Lending support to Lynch’s efforts has been Ken Auletta, a Bridgehampton resident who is a prize-winning journalist, the author of several nonfiction best-selling books, and a writer for The New Yorker magazine.
“The real story should be told for at least three reasons,” Auletta said. “First, there’s the matter of accountability for 918 deaths. Second, there’s the issue of journalistic responsibility. We ought know more about those who made those fateful news decisions. Finally, at a time when the media is criticized for missing the truth about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and for its own lack of transparency, telling this story is not only a way to come clean but a cautionary tale for all news organizations.”
Accountability, indeed. So many in this Temple Hall of Shame that still need to come clean in the role they played in helping a cult monster devour over 900 people. ESPN today will air a program about how basketball saved the life of Jim Jones, Jr. (who was away in Guyana’s capital in a tournament when the mass murder unfolded). The program will feature his son, Rob Jones, now a star basketball player who is attending college in San Diego–ironically enough, the headquarters of Becky Moore’s “Jonestown Institute”, which cranks out one apologist myth after another.
Her father, Rev. John Moore, took a key role in aiding and abetting Jones. Just six months before the November, 1978 massacre, Moore–after visiting Jonestown–told the L.A. County District Attorney’s office: “…We came away from the People’s Temple Agricultural Project with a feeling for its energy and enthusiasm, its creative, wholesome ways…and an understanding and high sense of adventure it holds for its residents.”
Rev. John Moore, with daughters Carolyn and Annie Moore, two Jonestown executioners that ultimately perished with their victims, the infants, children, and elderly.
Three months later, Moore assured Gordon Lindsey (the same British journalist that had contacted Pat Lynch on the day Jones carried out the slaughter) that “Jim Jones is in touch with the pain and suffering of people…I think that anyone who can lead 1,200 people from their country to settle in a new country has got it together.”
There are many, many other Jones allies yet to be discussed. Predictably, you won’t find much of this, if anything, in today’s ESPN special on Basketball & Jonestown. Because Media Giant ESPN, after all, is still a part of the “team”.
Finally, the Jonestown Apologists Alert would like to present the last of the four exposes censored by the gutless wonders-in-charge at the San Francisco Examiner. This one is perhaps the most revealing of the true depravity of a cult tyrant.
Just imagine how history would have changed, if only those editors had possessed the backbone to wipe out a scourge when there was still time. Read it. Feel the outrage.
SEX, SOCIALISM, AND CHILD TORTURE WITH REV. JIM JONES
By Rev. Lester Kinsolving
Examiner Religion Writer
UKIAH,CALIFORNIA, SEPTEMBER, 1972 — When the Rev. Jim Jones, charismatic pastor-prophet of the nearby People’s Temple Christian (Disciples) Church in Redwood Valley, was teaching classes in the local school district’s night school program, he illustrated his instruction with extensive and numerical accounts of his personal sex habits.
One of his former students, Mrs. Betty Bailey, distinctly recalls that in his advocating that young boys be taught to masturbate, the Rev. Mr. Jones provided graphic, detailed accounts of his own masturbating. (“I masturbated five times a day until I got married,” Jones reportedly told his pupils.)
Mrs. Bailey, a stocky, feisty and good-humored lady, recalled that this unusual pedagogy was offered by The Prophet in his teaching of this class–in U.S. History.
“I wasn’t impressed either by those two bodyguards who always preceeded him into the classroom,” commented Mrs. Bailey, “nor did I believe this stuff about his own extrasensory perception. So I said that I’d be impressed if he could tell me my grandmother’s maiden name. Instead of doing so, he shot back: ‘You’re fighting me!'”
Mrs. Bailey also recalls the The Prophet became so furious that he screamed at her, and on a separate occasion referred to another student as a “son of a bitch,” while angrily chasing this student to the classroom door.
“Jones comes on TV as something like St. Francis and the angel Gabriel,” commented Mrs. Bailey, “But as a Catholic, I didn’t really appreciate his telling the class that the Catholic Church opposes birth control in order to try to rule the world.”
Why is such conduct tolerated by the local school district?
“I’ve written complaints to the school board and even to Dr. Rafferty,” recalled Mrs. Bailey, “but Max Rafferty simply referred it back to the local board–and they ignored it. After all, so many board members are either members of the People’s Temple or are afraid of it.”
Another of The Prophet’s former night school students was Pat Rhea, now 21. She recalls that teacher Jim Jones included lengthy discussions of both extrasensory perception and syphilis–in a Civics class.
The course (for credit) had neither assigned texts nor examinations–for teacher Jones informed his pupils that they would be graded entirely on their performances when he engaged them in discussion. Rhea recalls that somehow Jones overlooked her entirely in this regard–but she received a grade of “B”.
The Prophet’s recurrent references to sex are vividly recalled by many witnesses.
Denise Kindopp, who has attended People’s Temple, recalls:
“Almost every Sunday, there was some reference to sex. More than once I have heard Jones tell the congregation that ‘I have been propositioned by many women.'”
In addition to this recurrent emphasis upon his personal sex life, The Prophet is remembered by some witnesses as having almost invariably been critical of the U.S. Government–in striking contrast to what they recall as no such criticism of such nations as Soviet Russia, Maoist China, or Castro’s Cuba.
Jones, they recall, has expressed his admiration for Fidel Castro, having told his congregation that he once ministered in Cuba.
And while no one has contended that the Rev. Mr. Jones is a Communist, there are reports that The People’s temple has distributed a paperback volume entitled “Introduction to Socialism,”–which members are ordered to burn when they finish reading.
While this rumor may be apocryphal, a copy of one other paperback book has been given to The Examiner, with a written affidavit that it was distributed to members of The People’s Temple. (Note: The paperback was turned over to the FBI by the reporter.)
It is a songbook, entitled: “A Little Boy of Sunshine, Little Grain of Truth.”
The affidavit notes that The Prophet Jones has “led the congregation in singing each and every one of these songs.”
“We are glad for emancipation from the profit motive lie… We’ll have to work together to survive, to overcome the systems and their lies… It’ll be a great day when the system’s overcome… We will shout Hallelujah living in communal beauty… There’s a highway to Utopia walking in a revolutionary way…”
As for the Rev. Mr. Jones’ alleged extrasensory perception (or divine omniscience, if you will), there are witnesses who are skeptical on the basis of experience.
One lady traveled to Redwood Valley from the Bay Area, with relatives in the Temple knowing of her impending visit. While she was en route, her 18-year old daughter received a phone call from a purported survey firm.
The line of questioning soon became so personal that a visiting neighbor asked to be included and proceeded to provide a series of answers which reflected a serious if entirely mythical set of personal problems.
Within the hour, during the Redwood Valley church service, the lady was asked to come forward by Prophet Jones–who proceeded to reveal the names of both her daughter and the neighbor. He then solemnly outlined the neighbor’s reported problem.
Such ethics extend to children of The People’s Temple, especially those in custody of members who have been ordered to divorce or separate from a spouse who is unwilling to follow The Prophet’s orders.
There are witnesses who have had the bitter experience of listening to their children give prepared speeches (as one 7-year old inadvertently admitted) of resistance to their non-Temple-member parent.
These have taken the form of youngsters threatening to accuse a father of indecent exposure, or a mother of countenancing rape.
One divorced father discovered that his visiting daughter, accompanied by the daughter of one of People’s Temple’s assistant ministers, had made copies of his most confidential papers.
If such methods as practiced by People’s Temple children seem horrifying, it may be due in part to the hardening provided by such rugged experiences as “Survival Training”–led by the Prophet Jones himself.
A 17-year old, who spent a month in People’s Temple residences, recalls that while he was on what is called “Survival Training,” all teenagers were ordered to walk into a cold river, at midnight.
The next morning, they were allowed to plunge in their bathing suits, but forbidden to change into dry clothing for the rest of the cold, overcast day.
For the youngest among them, who were non-swimmers, the experience was even more drastic.
These small children were strapped into life jackets and dropped into the middle of the river, in depth far above their heads–no matter how loudly they screamed.
This horrendous scene hardly fazed The Ukiah Messiah, however.
He subsequently informed the group that this was mild in comparison to the discipline he had imposed upon one young child of The People’s Temple.
The little boy threw up at the table, which prompted Jones to force him to eat his own vomit.
When the child gagged and again threw up, the Prophet again forced him to eat his vomit.
The Rev. Mr. Jones is an ordained clergyman of the Disciples of Christ (Christian) Church, while attorney Timothy O. Stoen is a member of the Board of Directors of that 1.9 million-member denominations’s Northern California-Nevada Conference.
President of this conference, headquartered in Oakland, is the Rev. Dr. Karl Irvin.
When asked about the People’s Temple and the Rev. Mr. Jones, Dr. Irvin mentioned an emphasis upon faith healing, social services, large congregations and “a high feeling for Jim Jones.”
“They give a sizable financial report, although there isn’t much of a breakdown provided and I don’t know how they keep their records,” explained Dr. Irvin. “There is a great deal of local autonomy in our denomination.”
But The Examiner has received a photostatic copy of a 4-page letter of deep concern, sent to this headquarters on Sept. 4, 1970, asking among other things that an M.D. be asked to analyze the exhibited “cancers” which Jones claims to have taken out of people’s bodies.
The letter was acknowledged in a letter written by the conference’s acting president, Elizabeth Kratz.
While the Disciples of Christ have thus far announced no investigation of the Rev. Jim Jones, who proclaims himself Jesus Reincarnate, the Indianapolis Star has investigated this new version of Father Divine.
The Star reported “numerous property transactions involving real-estate transfers which wound up in his name, or that of a profit-making corporation controlled by the Rev. Mr. Jones, his wife, and his mother.”
This corporation, titled “Jim-Lu-Mar”, reported The Star, “lost its corporate charter on June 1, 1970, because, according to the (Indiana) Secretary of State: ‘No annual reports were filed.'”
Posted by Tom Kinsolving at 8:34 AM 0 comments