Gordon Lindsay telephone conversation with Tim Clancey, August 1, 1978

Collect call from Tim Clancey to N.E. [National Enquirer] reporter Gordon Lindsay

Lindsay: Hello, Tim, Gordon Lindsay.

Clancey: Yes, How are you?

Lindsay: I’m very well indeed, thank you.

Clancey: I was returning your call.

Lindsay: I know that you are not supposed to talk to me, which I find very strange, but I have a yellow piece of paper that was put out by the Peoples Temple in San Francisco on May 10, 1978. I’ve been trying to get ahold of Dr. Moore today and having no success there, so that is about the end of my– I mean I’ve been trying to track him down all over the country.

Clancey: He is out of town right now.

Lindsay: Yeah, he is in Asilomar. And point number sixteen – this is comments about Jonestown Guyana from on-site visits – number sixteen says: “A writer from one of the largest news agencies in the world, quote, ‘It’s very very impressive. Thank you for this opportunity, and best wishes.’” Now, unfortunately, you don’t quote the name of the reporter.

Clancey: No, we did not.

Lindsay: You don’t know who it is?

Clancey: Well, no, I don’t.

Lindsay: I checked the largest news agencies in the world. One the Associated Press, whom I happen to know the general manager very well, and he said that no one from the AP has been down there. So I checked UPI whom I happen to know Bob Andrews over there, and he said that maybe one from that news agency has been to Jonestown, so I checked Reuters, being British, I know Reuters very well, and no one from Reuters has been down there, and so I checked AFT (French press agency) and they say no one has been down there. Now that takes care of all the large news agencies in the world.

Clancey: Well, I don’t know the name of the person. I know– I’m sure that the quote is quite valid. I was going to get around to calling you– It’s kind of a surprise that you called this morning.

Lindsay: Well, not at all, I am trying to do a story.

Clancey: I understand, I understand. We had heard– we had a couple of questions.

Lindsay: Surely.

Clancey: Basically for one thing we have heard from various people around town that Mr. Tim Stoen had contacted, that your article was going to be out this week. It was going to be a smear on the Temple, and that people should read it, and we were a little concerned that you called yesterday and expressed some interest in talking to various people who had been there– I understand that were not members of the Temple who had been there and back would be interested in speaking to you about their feelings and opinions of the project.

Lindsay: Peoples Temple people would.

Clancey: Well, Peoples Temple people would of course, I mean there are people that have been there and would be more than happy to express their feelings, but from what I understand, you wanted people who not necessarily were members but were rather in a little more objective position to speak to you about it.

Lindsay: That’s right, because I think– I mean I’ve applied, God knows how many times, to go down to speak to Jim Jones without any success and then I get word from the lieutenant governor’s office – Dymally – saying that I have to have permission from the Guyanese government to go to Jonestown, and that is quite honestly – I hope you put it on tape – is a pack of lies.

Clancey: Well–

Lindsay: Because the Guyanese government gave me full permission while I was down there . The chap’s name is Hutton Archer. And I understand that Dymally was on the shortwave radio to Jonestown about that particular thing.

Clancey: Well, I don’t know–

Lindsay: Well, I know you do, Tim, because you are on the radio as well (over Tim’s further explanation).

Clancey: I don’t know where you are getting your information but–

Lindsay: Well, I’ve got tapes of it.

Clancey: Oh, I see. Well, as a result of the airplane incident, I mean, they have some serious reservations about letting you in the country. We’ve been talking to them of course about the possibility of you’re–

Lindsay: The plane incident. As reporter, when I am told to go after a story and people reject my advantage to go down there and do a decent job of reporting, I normally make every effort to find out what is going on, and one of the things is to find out what this place Jonestown looks like. [Illegible handwritten word] I know exactly what it looks like.

Clancey: Oh, understandable, but also you can understand the concern of the country when you violate their airspace.

Lindsay: There is no violation of airspace. You’re allowed to fly over.

Clancey: Well, I mean, that may be your opinion, but I think that they feel otherwise. I am certain there are some reservations in the ministries about this.

Lindsay: If you were in my position, wouldn’t you think that someone was putting up a brick wall between me and Jim Jones?

Clancey: No, not at all.

Lindsay: Why wouldn’t he allow me to go down there when I hadn’t done anything at all except ask permission to go down?

Clancey: Well, Mr. Lindsay, you never approached the Temple about going down there before you–

Lindsay: Well, my point is, you know, the Temple, as far as I’m concerned, is based in Jonestown. That’s where– How many people are down there?

Clancey: There are quite a few people there.

Lindsay: Well–

Clancey: Let me say this. If you are considering doing both sides of the story, which I really have no idea what you plan on doing with your article, but if you had– were considering doing both sides of the story, we are interested in seeing that you get down there to talk to Reverend Jones.

Lindsay: It’s been seven weeks now.

Clancey: Well, as I explained, there are going to be problems to overcome the feelings that some people have about airplanes, and it’s going to take time–

Lindsay: But let’s go back to the earlier– what I said earlier. When I was down there, in Georgetown, I asked Hutton Archer at the ministry of information if I could go to Jonestown, and I have a witness, my partner, sitting right there with me, and Hutton Archer said there– he saw no reason why we could not because we were not in there to do a political story. And then he called someone at the Peoples Temple in Georgetown itself.

Clancey: Who is this gentleman?

Lindsay: Hutton Archer, I think his actual title is Deputy Minister of Information, and he said, as we were not in there to do any political story, we had no ax to grind whatsoever, and we had no response from the Peoples Temple. I was sitting there– I mean, you do admit that the Peoples Temple is in Jonestown, don’t you? (Chuckling)

Clancey: Indeed.

Lindsay: And how many people are down there? So we can get that straight.

Clancey: Well, I’m not sure exactly.

Lindsay: It’s over a thousand, right?

Clancey: Well, you can get the details like that from Charles [Garry].

Lindsay: You know, I’ve been trying to get ahold of Garry for four days.

Clancey: Well, he’s right in the middle of a murder trial and he’s presenting his side of the case. And it’s going to close this week.

Lindsay: I understand, but my deadline will have long passed by then.

Clancey: Well, if you’re interested in doing both sides of the stories, then something can be worked out. I mean – the Moores – you have their number, I take it. I mean I have it here, but I guess you probably already have it.

Lindsay: What’s, Moore’s number?

Clancey: Yeah.

Lindsay: Well, he’s in a place called Asilomar at the moment which is in Monterey, and I’ve left a message there, but I can do no more.

Clancey: Right, well, he should be back tomorrow or the next day.

Lindsay: That’s my deadline’s over.

Clancey: Your deadline’s over by then?

Lindsay: Yeah, I’ll be happy to follow up the story and do anything else I can, but I’ve given Peoples Temple more than enough time. I’ve given them six weeks now.

Clancey: We thought your deadline was the 28th.

Lindsay: Why would you possibly think that?

Clancey: That’s what we have heard from various people.

Lindsay: The 28th of this month?

Clancey: Right.

Lindsay: Good God, no. It was supposed to be a week ago, but we got an extension on it to see if Peoples Temple would be a little more cooperative.

Clancey: Well, we are willing to cooperate. If it takes time to work out getting you into the country like that– We don’t have that much say with the government. They are going to do what [they want] to do.

Lindsay: It took me 24 hours to get down there and into the country.

Clancey: That was when you first went down there [illegible handwritten word], Mr. Lindsay.

Lindsay: Huh?

Clancey: I say, that was when you first went down there. That was before you also flew over the project. And that caused a little bit of concern with the people there. And that is going to take some time and effort to go around.

Lindsay: What concern could I possibly cause?

Clancey: Well, you did. That’s–

Lindsay: From what ministry?

Clancey: Huh?

Lindsay: From what ministry? I will make representations from my government down there.

Clancey: Well, I don’t know which ministry. I know our people–

Lindsay: Well, you find out.

(Both talking)

Lindsay: If you’ll find out which minister, and which ministry, I will be happy to get the High Commissioner of the British government to look into the matter for me, and I will also have someone from the American government, as I’m working for an American newspaper, to look into the matter for me to, because we can move a lot faster than most people can.

Clancey: Well, if you’re planning on doing like two separate articles, one presenting one point of view and another one later, presenting– looking at the other point of view, then I don’t think that we would be interested [illegible handwritten word] in any type of cooperation. But if the story is going to be objective and it’s going to present both sides, of the story, then we will do our best to cooperate with you.

Lindsay: Four weeks ago– Look, look, let me quote you something. I got all this garbage in front of me. One, I’ve been accused of causing a cardiac arrest of a woman. I’ve got all these things here. Where is the one I would like to quote you? It says here we have not made – and this came from Charles Garry – we have not made a single call to him – that’s me – or to anyone else in any threatening manner, whatsoever. Until he came into Mr. Garry’s office, we did not even know his name or who he was. Lie. Hutton Archer told Peoples Temple my name and who I work for. How could anyone get an unlisted number for someone whose name or address which we do not know? It is very easy to get an unlisted number – this strikes me as very peculiar – if you will take up the challenge of finding out who made and is making these phone calls, find out who informed Hue Fortson about his supposed death threat, we would consider this a test of proof of his sincerity of doing an objective article. Include in his story of who is harassing Peoples Temple and who are the sources of these threats, and they expect me to find out who is making phone calls? Now that’s impossible, even the telephone company takes 5 or 10 minutes to put a trace on a phone call.

Clancey: Well, Mr. Lindsay–

Lindsay: I’ll read you what it says here (?) [Notation in original]. We will take any lie detector test, truth serum, voice print or whatever is required to prove to him we are not the source or any way responsible.

Clancey: That’s true.

Lindsay: I find that going overboard. Well, my goodness, I don’t want you chaps– If you’re telling the truth, I’ll accept it.

Clancey: Well, we’re just trying to make a point. And we are very serious, and–

Lindsay: All your points seem to be very overboard, they seem to go to the extreme.

Clancey: Probably because we haven’t gotten representation that we’ve–

Lindsay: I talked to Charles Garry four weeks ago that I was quite happy to go down there to do an objective story, and I think, you know, it seems that what is known in terms of the runaround, getting nowhere– I’m wasting a tremendous amount of money making phone calls getting nowhere.

Clancey: I mentioned to [you] the problem of why we are having troubles getting you in now, and you told me about you had gone there and the government had said you could get in, but the situation is different now, because there is also another possibility, too, that there is a freelance journalist and author who is going to be going to the project. All the paperwork and everything has been arranged, and he is going to be going there very soon to do a story. It will be a longer type of thing. He has done stories for your paper before. We’ve talked to him, and he said that he would be willing to do something shorter and give your paper the exclusive story on that.

Lindsay: What’s his name?

Clancey: I am not at liberty to give you his name at the moment, I just–

(Both talking)

Lindsay: There is nothing secretive– He works for the National Enquirer?

Clancey: Well, he doesn’t work for the National Enquirer, he’s written for it. He is a freelance author.

Lindsay: He cannot– Believe you me, he cannot say that he will give it to the Enquirer. They have to approve it before he even goes down there. I know how the Enquirer works, backwards.

Clancey: Well, I’m sure you know far better than I do. I’m just saying that he offered to do that. I’m not saying that they would accept it – the story – but he’s planning on going down there, and he’s going to do that.

Lindsay: Now why have we been so secretive about who the reporter is? If he’s a reporter worth his salt, he doesn’t mind giving out his name to anyone.

Clancey: Well, your views are–

Lindsay: I’ve given my name to everyone. I haven’t tried to keep my secret at all. I mean, that’s the normal reporter. If a reporter is not prepared to give his name out, then he’s not a reporter in my book.

Clancey: Well, I don’t think he’s actually a reporter, since he’s an author.

Lindsay: An author.

Clancey: He’s done, you know, newspaper feature articles.

Lindsay: That’s all I do. Newspaper feature articles.

Clancey: I understand.

Lindsay: I do not consider myself an author.

Clancey: There must be some difference there–

Lindsay: I consider myself a reporter. Feature reporter. If you like to have this gentleman call me, I would be delighted to talk to him.

Clancey: Okay, I was just saying that there is a lot of people I think you would be interested in talking, but they have a lot of reprehensions [apprehensions] about how they are going to be represented in the press.

Lindsay: Everything I do I tape so they cannot be misquoted. I’ve already told Charles Garry that. I spoke to Charles Garry for two hours on tape.

Clancey: Is that right? I didn’t realize it was that long.

Lindsay: In his office.

Clancey: Well, a lot of people feel that we are the victims of a conspiracy with regards to the media.

Lindsay: I think you feel you are victims of a conspiracy.

Clancey: I do. I do personally. I think there’s good reason for it. Well, let me– You’ve mentioned a lot of things.

Lindsay: You give me the name of the ministry that’s complaining about me going down there, and I will sort it out with the High Commissioner and the American ambassador. We have a lot of power.

Clancey: You do personally?

Lindsay: No, no, not high, but I am the least– I am just a reporter. No, no, I have no power, but by power I mean influence in government circles [illegible handwritten word]. Newspapers have to deal in government circles. I mean, I do deal something with the congressmen that I have spoken to about Peoples Temple and with various senators.

Clancey: I see.

Lindsay: And how they feel about it, you– I’m covering every base that I possibly can. I’ve been in this country for 21 years now, so I think that I know the American scene fairly well.

Clancey: Well, you certainly spent enough time here to see it firsthand. Now if you said you’ve past your deadline already, what point is all this discussion?

Lindsay: The point of all this discussion is, let’s get on the stick and let’s maybe talk to Jones by radio. If you can get me down there [in] 24 hours, to Jonestown, then maybe I can hold off the deadline.

Clancey: I think that would be impossible. I am fairly sure that that would be impossible. Twenty-four hours is just not enough time.

Lindsay: In this business, we never say it’s impossible.

Clancey: Well, I won’t say it’s impossible, but it would be highly unlikely.

Lindsay: Okay, well, if we don’t hear from you, we would just go ahead with the story, right?

Clancey: Well, if that’s what you are going to do, I don’t see that–

Lindsay: All I can say– Okay, the thing is that I–

Clancey: We’re interested in working with you. We need the time to work it out.

Lindsay: You see, I can’t understand this. As of tomorrow, this will be seven weeks I’ve been on this story. Seven weeks. It’s the longest I’ve spent on one story in my life, on actually one story. When I covered the heart transplant, I spent eight months, but that was an ongoing thing, a daily thing. This is just a one feature story. That was a news story far more than a feature story. So as I say, I’ve never spent this much time with– Those chaps on Watergate didn’t spend so much time almost.

Clancey: Well–

Lindsay: So I certainly have given that my honest effort.

Clancey: Okay, well, let me get back to you. You’ll be at this number then?

Lindsay: Yes, I will.

Clancey: Okay.

Lindsay: Okay, thanks very much.

Clancey: Thanks, Mr. Lindsay.

Lindsay: Bye.