Don Harris interview 1

KNBC Interview – Don Harris 11/13/78 in S.F.

Harris: I just want to go over this one time for all of you, because I don’t know how much all of you know about us, what we are going to do, how we are going to go about doing it. So if I clear all that just one time, you will all know exactly how we stand.

We are essentially a network news service. Someone called the other day and the opening of the sentence was “I understand you are going down to do an exposé?” That is not what we are going to do it all. We are going to do a news story. There have been some charges and there have been some answers to charges. I have absolutely no idea at this point, what the story will look like, whether they will be favorable to Peoples Temple, or critical. And I must tell you in all honesty, I really don’t give a damn. It’s just not my thing to be concerned about whether they are favorable or critical. As far as I know, none of the four of us have had anything to do with Peoples Temple before. But by and large, your biggest safe-factor is that we really don’t care how the story turns out.

Our initial contact was with the group who made some charges against the Temple. We will accompany a group of people going down tonight who generally are critical of the Temple. I wish you wouldn’t misconstrue that, that we are somehow in alliance with the people who are making the charges. We know them, we are going to deal with them, we are going to listen to what the people have to say, and to some degree, we will report it. But we simply happen to be traveling together.

If we had been able to set the arrangements up ahead of time, we would have gone in by ourselves, talk to the people of Jonestown first and then waited for this other group of people to arrive, and done this talking with them. It just happens that we are going together, because that is the way it was scheduled.

You have absolutely no commitment to us. You won’t have to talk to us, you don’t have to explain anything to us. We came here because we need information. We don’t know anything about the Temple (that is a damned lie from the rest of the conversation/sb [Sandy Bradshaw]). We don’t know anything but what we have found generally in the ‘morgue,’ that is, wire clipping, newspaper clipping, that sort of thing. So we just came to get some information.

The only thing that I can tell you to give you some peace of mind as to what we will do, is that unless it becomes a competitive situation– competitive meaning, that unless we have either one of the other networks, if another network comes in on top of the story, we will file instantly, and we will try to let you know about that. But as long as there is no other network there, then we control the release time and we will try to hold everything until we have a chance to look at the whole week long, or two week long, whatever this thing turns out to be. Then we will start filing. If it is going to be– (introduces Dr. Goodlett as he comes in)

Garry: Dr. [Carlton] Goodlett was there about a month ago to examine Jim Jones. He was the president of the Black Publishers of the U.S. and he has a newspaper here, the Sun-Reporter, Metro news, and several others, and he has been a long, long friend of the Temple, and a very close, dear friend of mine.

Harris: The bottom line is that sometime before we leave tonight, we will try to set up a way, the mechanism for what we are doing. I don’t care how we do it, as long as you are sure it will work for you.

If we find that we have to file in a hurry, give us the name of someone in Georgetown or here, because if we find that there won’t be much time, there will be time for one phone call to somebody, and that’s all. To say we are filing, the story will be negative, or we are filing and you don’t have anything to sweat, that’s all I can do for you. That is all I am supposed to do for you. That is all ethically we can promise anybody.

Garry: Well, let me say a couple things here. We don’t have any qualms or any reservations about what is there. I don’t care who goes there. As far as I am concerned, they won’t find anything but what we have seen ourselves. We have not only seen it, the American Embassy has been there, the Guyanese government has been there time and time again. I have been there twice. And what you see there is not a manufactured front. As a matter fact, I consider it a kind of paradise, a kind of utopia in action, living proof. I have seen it. But I want to also tell you that we are very apprehensive, not for what is there or what is being done. We are being attacked in areas that we quite don’t know where it is coming from. If we knew where it was coming from, of course, we would stop it. Now there are, what they consider a group of “Concerned Relatives.”

Now, Mr. Duncan there– he just came back, and he is not a member of the Temple. His daughter has been there for a long time, he was worried about seeing his own daughter, and he was also taken in by some of the crap that some of these so-called concerned relatives, these dissidents, are putting out. And he went there and saw for himself. His wife went down with him, and she stayed there. This is what we are talking about. We have had Rev. Moore, who was the head of the Northern Methodist church for the entire northern part of California– he has two daughters that have been there for two or three years, and he went down there with his wife, they visited there for two or three weeks, and they came back. Talk to them. They saw what was going on there. There is no mystery about what is going on there. But the thing that is a mystery is how it is that Tim Stoen, who was the attorney and probably one of the top leaders of the Temple for years, all at once he has filed lawsuits in the very areas that he advised the Temple. Now, I have a lawsuit against him on the breach of attorney/client relationship. And I have asked for an injunction and the judge has not yet ruled. He must be considering something, because there were thirty affidavits filed, one by Mr. Duncan, and by people who are not members of the Temple who were aware of the conduct of this man’s relationship.

Now, I don’t know what is going on. I don’t know what is under all this – whether it is an IRS investigation, whether it is a CIA plot – but something is amiss, something is wrong. And these are the kinds of things that we don’t have answers to. We are not going to let anybody from that group get into Jonestown. It’s only a little over a year ago that Jim Jones was shot at, not once, but several times. We don’t know where those shots came from, [how] they got into Jonestown. Now, by the way, there is no security at Jonestown, no barbed wire. At my insistence, last year I said that there should be someone at the entrance. Now they have a 24-hour vigil at the entrance, you can’t drive in there without getting permission, and there is a communications at the gate, to the community itself, announcing whoever goes through there. But that is just a façade, because you can get into the jungle in a thousand areas.

Pat [Richartz, Charles Garry’s paralegal] asks Harris: Who are the Concerned Relatives who are going over?

Harris: Oh, Cobb, Stoen, Katsaris, the names are not all that familiar. I’ve only been doing research on this thing for two or three weeks? (sounds like) Essentially the same folks– You must have all the names from court papers etc. Medlocks–

(They are now setting up equipment)

(Garry is talking about Ryan’s aide talking about having sent invitations out to a number of congressmen inviting them to go – Burton, etc. – said he did know that Phil Burton wrote back that he couldn’t go.[)]

Goodlett is saying, nobody would tell him when they are coming to his house. They would come at his convenience, not when they say. I would say, you’d better stay at home, ‘cause you ain’t getting in! Talks about all these people being schoundrel [scoundrels] etc. and expect to run through the plantation when they want to. Oh no. They would have a lot of exercise going back home if it was up to him (Goodlett), but then he is not part of the congregation.

Garry to Goodlett: Well, the thing is that they arbitrarily say they are coming.

Goodlett: And I would kick their ass out too! Pardon my French. Nothing wrong with being invited to come, just come at the proper time.

Sounds like Javers: Well, I think Ryan’s position was that he was going to Georgetown no matter what, and the hope [is] that he would get into Jonestown if Rev. Jones would let him in.

Harris responds to Garry’s question as to who is paying for these trips. Harris says, off the record, from what I have heard, it is a collective thing, that each person is paying a portion of their expenses, and that there have been some collections of money by them as a group.

Charles asks if the U.S. government is paying for any of this. He wants to know. Harris says, not according to Ryan. In fact, there were some serious discussion about them even traveling on the same plane, and Ryan was very careful to spell out when he talked to us, that these were not members of his party, that they would be on the same plane as his delegation, but that was all the connection.

Pat says, the appearance is otherwise, regardless of what Ryan says. To whom, asks Harris. Pat says, to the public. Harris says, the public won’t see it except through me, him (Javers) or either one of the other reporters. Pat says, what I’m saying is unless that is spelled out to the public, the impression left is that they are part of the congressional delegation.

Harris’ response: That is entirely possible.

Charles says before shooting the interviews, he does not intend to get into any of the lawsuits etc. That is a matter pending before the courts. He points out about the 16 phone patches etc. We have the tapes in the office, and these people are not interested in anything like facts. As a matter of fact, Tim Stoen has told several people, including Mr. Duncan over there, (tape turns) picks up, “his client said to him, that Jim Jones is the father of that child.” (Must be talking about Hallinan) Here is it right here, an affidavit under oath.

Don Harris is saying that he needs a person to establish contact with quickly either in San Francisco or Georgetown.

Harris is saying that he would like to go in, even if he has to stay until after they leave. Charles says he would like to have them go in and he would like to have Mr. Favers [Javers] go in too. Something about Charles saying by nature, newspaper people are not very happy with TV. TV is entertainment (laughter)

Don Harris is saying that he has no idea when this will be shown. He says, “I have a sackel [satchel] full of notes,” and at this point he says he is “abismally [abysmally] ignorant,” but I’ll get smarter in the next 24 hours (sounds like he says) “when I get to read all this stuff.”

(Think they are setting up the TV now)

Harris asking Dr. Goodlett what his association with Peoples Temple is. Goodlett saying he first became involved when a number of his patients and Jones’ mother was in town, and she had physical problems and came as a patient, and he had a chance to treat her. And then he became involved in their medical program. At one time they had a physical therapy clinic under his license. And he has known Jim Jones as a leader for social justice, concerned about others.

Harris: Have you ever been to Jonestown?

Goodlett: Yes, I have been to Jonestown.

Harris: What do you think?

Goodlett: Well, it was a very unique experience in socialism. It is the effort to transmit an idea into being, and they’ve succeeded far beyond my anticipation. I have known some of these youngsters that are down there since they have been born, and they were real lost souls on the avenue out here, and also (something about) people who are suffering from rheumatism etc. and other debilitating diseases, and now they have a new lease, a new hold on life.

Harris: Then what is causing all this furor, all these charges?

Goodlett: Well, you know, I am a psychologist, I know there are times when the attitude “love and hate” are sometimes indistinguishable. (Something about) When people lose sight of their objective, and something happens, they turn their love into hate. I have known some of these people, and I knew that some of them had been looking a long time for something, and then I was surprised when they turned around, because they had been going the wrong way for years before. But I have known Jim Jones for number of years, and I have examined this man closely, and I find nothing wrong with him.

Harris: I am told that he is ill, that he is very ill.

Goodlett: Do you mean psychologically or physically?

Harris: Both, but I am talking about this particular report having to do with him physically.

Goodlett: Yes, I went there to see him about a medical problem, and I have been trying to deal with the problem.

Harris: Then he is seriously ill.

Goodlett: He is ill and he refuses to go to a hospital. In fact, I sent a message to him that he had not kept faith, and that the project would be leaderless in that he had sacrificed his health. And if he didn’t get something done in a short span, it would be very, very dangerous in the long run.

Harris: What sort of illness does he have?

Goodlett: I don’t discuss that. That is a medical problem, but he was ill enough for me to go see him. And I am not an undertaker, I am a physician, you know.

Harris: Doctor– I am interested in the young man [Larry Schacht] who is a doctor there.

Goodlett: Now, this young man, he was spaced out on alcohol and drugs, and when I heard that he wanted to be a physician, and he couldn’t get into medical school in this country and I advised them to send him to a medical school in Mexico. And after he was there for a couple of years, he straightened up etc., and with the help of Willie Brown and others, we got him into Irvine, University of California. He is a modern Switzer [Schweitzer]. This man has got it! Down in the jungle in this clinic, which is the only medical clinic in that region, people are lined up every day from outside the compound to get medical care. He is doing a tremendous job. In fact, when I go into retirement, I am going to spend more time down there.

Harris: You are going to join the group?

Goodlett: Not particularly. I belong to Third Baptist Church. I am a Baptist, not a Templeite. I’m not Catholic either, but I go to the Catholic Church sometimes. And I go to Holy Rollers sometime. I don’t go much, but I do go there. (Laughter)

Harris: I’m from southern Georgia. I’m familiar with Holy Rollers. I am still– I hear you and I hear these other good folks, and they say what a good place this is and what a good job it is doing. What I can’t understand why all these people– Again, if it were one or two or three, then you could dismiss it as malcontents.

Goodlett: You go, and we’re going to see to it – and I say that because I think I have the confidence in the man – we’re going to see to it that if they turn the other delegation away, that you will get an opportunity to get in and see of your own accord, Jonestown. And when you come back, I’ll put the same question to you, and you will have difficulty answering it. Because everything you see there will impress you by the fact that men can do many things if he does them collectively.

Harris: Do you believe there is a conspiracy?

Goodlett: Yes, conspiracy of silence, and conspiracy of those who would lie etc. I am not afraid of new ideas, and I am not afraid of socialism, but you may be brainwashed into thinking that we may have reached the millennium of laissez-faire capitalist dogma. And I have seen what they have done to Cuba, etc., and there are those who don’t want socialism to succeed under any circumstances. I know there are those people in this country who feel they have all to lose and nothing to gain, who are trying to rule this country and the world, and would even blow up the world, rather than lose it. Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I can talk about things I believe in.

Harris: What you are saying is the government would rather destroy this thing than have it succeed?

Goodlett: What I– For instance, the men who makes up the government, see the government represents the collective operations of people who control–

Harris: You are saying there are some people who are involved in the government who would like to see this operation fail?

Goodlett: Indeed, indeed, indeed.

Harris: Do you know who they are?

Goodlett: Oh, no, I don’t know who, like I don’t know who has been trying to destroy the Panthers, but we know that eventually it will be proven CIA and these other guys in the federal government. You know, at one time Nixon talked about fascism, and he was proven to be right, and I am not a visionary who is without some social perception.

Harris: Have you ever seen anyone beaten?

Goodlett: No, and I have never treated anybody who has suffered any ill harm.

Harris: Never saw anybody down there who looked underfed, malnourished?

Goodlett: I saw people underfed before I went to Jonestown, yes, but that was here (in this country). I saw they had a program for people who are overweight, who had eaten too good!

Harris: You find no basis for these charges?

Goodlett: I find no basis for them, and with my deep social perception– (cut off) I’ll ask you, how do you explain this?

Harris: You tell me, and when I get back, you call me collect and we’ll talk (or something to this effect).

Goodlett: Let me tell you, I am the one guy who would send you folks back home if I were there, because first, I don’t like anybody to come to my house uninvited, and expect to bring people–

Harris: Wait a minute, I don’t think you know the whole story. It was not to go there uninvited. We asked to go there before this.

Goodlett: Yeah, and were you given something that would be considered an invitation?

Harris: We didn’t get there yet.

Goodlett: Well, have you been invited to come at this time?

Harris: No. Nobody has said we aren’t going to get an invitation. The general feeling that we got was that things were in an uproar right now, and let’s figure out where we are. But understand – I don’t know whether you came in late on this conversation – we are traveling with a group, but it has nothing to do with being associated with the group.

Goodlett: Let me tell you, in the event – I don’t know what is going to happen – in the event you are not allowed to get in because of your associates, before you leave, you will be invited to come back.

Harris: Oh, I suspect that I will get [notation of inaudible word] one way or the other of the folks in Jonestown.

Goodlett: What I’m saying, you will be accepted as an invited guest. You see, I have reservations about this personally because of the fact [notation of inaudible words, sounds like, “there is nothing but good to see”] and don’t have anytime [anything] to hide. Our people basically are a people of peace, and they have been harassed, plus here in San Francisco, but I believe, just like Castro told Allende–

Harris: By the way, the next assignment after this is in Cuba, with Castro.

Goodlett: Give him my regards.

Harris: Do you know him personally, and should I indeed do that?

Goodlett: Yeah, indeed.

Harris: The man that– As is often the case, the man who is going down, or there is a man who is going to be there at the same time, and because I, like you, worry about going in and trying to survey something on a short notice, a fellow by the name of José Broata? who left Cuba before Castro came to power, came to this country to study for the ministry, he is a lay minister in the Baptist Church, and what he really discovered was that he was a damned good capitalist, and is now a sizable painting contractor, and he was our next door neighbor for a while, and he has now opened offices in Atlanta and is flying back and forth to LA. So he is a good working capitalist, and also a minister. José, I believe, was the first person to be allowed to go to this country and back. He makes the trip back and forth very often. And what we are proposing– Part of his family are heavy supporters of the government, part are not, and we were going to try to use them as a guide. He, like you, seems to think there are some things that are much better now.

Goodlett: Well, listen, when you get there– Jim Jones and his family were in Cuba during the time of the revolution, at the end of the Batista regime and the beginning of the Castro regime, and Jim Jones has been back to Cuba, he was there in January of ‘77, and that calling card will not hurt you! That you have come and looked upon this Temple, as a friend, I hope–

Harris: I am anxious to see this thing through.

Goodlett: You know, one thing I am sure sorry that this country was so open-minded and allowed all those Cuban refugees into this country. (A voice says there are over 100,000 of them) They represent the worst scoundrels in the world, out of there, and the most racist of the Cubans, and they brought all of their superiorities and what not, and in Florida they represent another strata in society pressing on the backs of the blacks. In the South, you have the poor whites sitting on the top of the necks and the backs of blacks, got three classes setting on backs of the blacks now.

Harris: You know, that is something that I want to discuss with José. He is black, and we have never discussed racism before.

Goodlett: Well, then he was one of the few of the elite blacks who were needed by the Batista regime to give it validity. (Harris argues about this with him saying that José left before, and was just a kid who didn’t have enough to eat etc.)

They left over struggle for power. They are the worst, just like the Vietnamese who came here. They are just another problem for blacks and racial minorities. We have got enough problems with racism, sexism, and classism without having any more numbers to fight all of these people, some of them from the most deadly social pathology known to man in their particular country. We have the capacity for supporting all of the scoundrels all over the world.

Harris: Well, I know the other side isn’t doing too damn good on picking leaders also.

Goodlett: Well, some of them are surviving.

Harris: Idi Amin?

Goodlett: Well, who the hell picked him?

Harris: He has Soviet weapons.

Goodlett: So did the government of Nigeria have Soviet weapons, because we wouldn’t sell them any. (Goodlett leaves saying he has to practice medicine, says he does so once in a while, you know. It keeps him radical.)

ON THE AIR: to edit

Harris: My guess is, if everything stays like it is, my guess is that everything stays even. We will release at the end of this five day period or whatever it is. What notice do you need from us, or what information would you like from us? As far as release is concerned, do you need advance information?

Charles: It would help.

Harris: Oh, if we talk to someone at the Temple in Georgetown, will that information be relayed to you?

Charles: Not necessarily, because matters of communication are very bad. See, we are not permitted to carry on any communication between Jonestown and San Francisco. The FCC raises hell about it. And the communication between Georgetown and San Francisco is very, very expensive, sixteen dollars, I think, for three minutes. (Get Charles phone #)

Harris: You represented the Black Panthers, you talked about some other controversial clients. Are there any that I might not know about that I should?

Charles: Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, Angela Davis, Inez Garcia.

Pat asks how long do you plan to be there? They say the 19th, or until they plan to get through.