The KNBC Interviews of Don Harris

Three of the reporters who accompanied Rep. Leo Ryan to Guyana in November 1978, were brand new to the Peoples Temple story. San Francisco Chronicle reporter Marshall Kilduff had a history with the Temple, including the New West article, and the paper decided to send Ron Javers instead, a man who, as Tim Reiterman pointed out in Raven (New York, E.P. Dutton, 1982), “had never written a word about the Temple” (p. 476). Charles Krause was the Latin American correspondent for the Washington Post, and, as he wrote in his book Guyana Massacre (New York, Berkley Publishing, 1978), “I had never heard of Jim Jones until a few days before the holocaust, and even then it was almost by accident” (p. 2). Don Harris, a correspondent for NBC News who died at the Port Kaituma airstrip, had drawn the assignment only about two weeks earlier than Krause had.

In preparation for his trip to Guyana, Harris immersed himself into the resources that NBC had, including an unpublished report by freelance writer Gordon Lindsay (Lindsay accompanied the NBC crew to Port Kaituma, but – because of his own previous history with the Temple – was the only reporter who was not allowed into Jonestown).

Harris, who was based in Los Angeles, also prepped for the trip by conducting two interviews for KNBC television – the NBC affiliate in LA – with two men who knew a great deal about the Temple, even though they were not members of it: Charles Garry was the Temple’s attorney; and Carlton Goodlett was the publisher of the Sun-Reporter in San Francisco, as well as Jones’ personal physician. A third man – Walter Duncan, the father and husband of two Jonestown residents – appears briefly in both. One of the interviews ran on November 13, 1978, the day before both Harris and Garry flew to Guyana. The second interview is undated, although since the three interview subjects appear in both, it is likely they were recorded the same day; in addition, a notation on one transcript suggests that the interviews took place in San Francisco.

Temple leader Jean Brown also appears in one of the interviews.

The two interviews were transcribed by Sandy Bradshaw, another trusted Temple aide who had remained in San Francisco after the majority of the leadership group emigrated with Jones to Jonestown in 1977. The transcripts appear in a verbatim format, but there are points in each during which Bradshaw summarized what was going on in the conversation.

Don Harris Interview 1, RYMUR 89-4286-I-1-a-9a – I-1-a-9h

Don Harris Interview 2, RYMUR 89-4286-I-1-a-9i – I-1-a-9p

Originally posted on May 28th, 2013.

Last modified on November 28th, 2020.
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