Transcript prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
Part 1: One side of a phone call
I don’t know if you know me, I’m calling for Mike Prokes, right. Apparently he had told you about a situation that’s been developing with regards to a newspaper article. (Pause) Yeah. (Pause) Not yet. We hope it won’t be, ever. (Pause) Yeah. (Pause) I see. (Pause) Okay. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause) Oh, good. (Pause) Okay, good. Um, would you rather uh, that (struggles for words) you could call us back. (Pause) Okay. That’d be good. We’d just sort of like to know what’s— (Pause) Okay, good. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause) Yes. (Pause) Correct. And his refusal to, to rely on first hand, factual, verifiable information, well, about our programs and about what we do, and speaking directly and having an interview with uh, with Jim Jones— (Pause) Well, he’s— he’s not going with an interview. I mean, he hasn’t been able to get one yet because there’ve been, uh, so many difficulties in arranging one, so he’s— instead of waiting for one, and go— and doing it professionally, he said, I’m not going to— well, I’m not going to bother an interview. (Pause) Right, and he’s going to do it in such a way, he said that uh, so that he can’t be sued, well, that this is people’s impressions, you know, he’ll write a gossip-type of, of article which I think is outrageous. (Pause) Right. (Pause) Oh. (Pause) Oh, okay. (Pause) I see. Right. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause) Mmm-hmm. (Pause)
(Ed. note: Two or three other people in the same room are engaged in similar phone calls. Most of the other conversations are unintelligible, overwhelmed by the caller closest to the microphone; nevertheless, we were able to discern words such as “guardianship”, “FCC” and “Customs”, which were among the Temple’s principle concerns at the time.)
(Gap of several minutes between Segments 1 and 2)
Part 2: Phone conversation between Mike Prokes and unknown reporter
Reporter: Uh, what’s uh, happening so far is the orange juice uh, Florida orange juice boycott, I understand you uh— Jim Jones uh— uh, has urged uh, members of the Temple to observe that boycott. Is— Is that correct?
Prokes: Uh, well, he’s been away for some time, I’m not sure if he did before he left or not, uh, I guess he’s been gone three weeks.
Prokes: But uh—
Reporter: Well, the boy— the— the boycott beg— I mean, efforts to organize it began uh, longer ago than three weeks.
Prokes: Yeah, what — yeah, so he could have, because I, I was away too. But uh, uh, probably the best person to contact would be uh, Howard Wallace—
Prokes: — in the gay community.
Prokes: And uh— Do you know how to reach him?
Reporter: I have a number, yes, uh-huh.
Prokes: Yeah, I would say he, he’s the best one, but ah—
Reporter: I understand — is it correct that he, he spoke to uh, to your member— to the Temple? Did he—
Prokes: I believe so. Yeah, I believe so.
Reporter: You didn’t hear him yourself?
Reporter: Well, one question: uh, your membership uh, is now what, of the uh, Peoples Temple.
Prokes: Numbers, you mean?
Reporter: Yeah, yeah.
Prokes: It’s 9000, over 9000 in this area.
Reporter: 9000 in this area (sound of typing.) Okay, um, and what, what does the — you, you’ve uh, you have that, that newspaper that you uh—
Prokes: Peoples Forum?
Reporter: What— Peoples Forum, it’s called?
Reporter: And have you had articles about the boycott uh, in there?
Prokes: Well, the last one that came out that — no, it— it’s come out uh, about every month—
Prokes: — and uh, so far we haven’t had uh, anything on that situation.
Reporter: But you’ve done it— You’ve done it by way of uh, Sunday services?
Reporter: I see. Um, and do you remember what, what uh, actually was said, either by Jim Jones or anybody else on the subject?
Prokes: No. I could find out and get back to you.
Reporter: I sure would appreciate, just, just what the position is uh, you know, what his— if anybody actually heard Jim Jones preach on the subject, uh, I would be interested to know what he said, uh, uh. I can call Wallace myself, but you know, the more information, the better.
Prokes: Right. Uh— How soon do you have to have the information?
Reporter: Well, today or tomorrow would be fine.
(Abrupt end to conversation, cut into Part 3.)
Part 3: In progress phone conversation between Prokes and unknown reporter, most likely George Hunter, publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal
Prokes: —a guy we understood called you, and we’re trying to check out his uh, credibility, uh, and thought maybe you could—
Reporter: Well, geez, if it’s a Chronicle guy, I didn’t write his name down or anything, I just uh, bucked him over to Tim [probably Tim Reiterman, a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle].
Prokes: Oh. Uh, oh, I see, yeah. (Talking over each other.) Did he ask any questions?
Reporter: Oh, he asked me a few questions about background. I just simply stated that I’d had— had nothing but the most pleasant relationships with the church, and uh, and uh, but I had sort of an idea that, that whatever questions he did ask were based on uh, the uh, faith-healing.
Prokes: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Reporter: And so I didn’t know exactly what he was up to. I thought he was just a Chronicle guy that was uh, going to do a piece, but uh, I told him that uh, I certainly wasn’t the best source and then I referred him over to Tim.
Prokes: Yeah. Do you remember any specific thing he asked?
Reporter: Well it’s uh, it’s hard to say. He didn’t uh— he didn’t ask any real probing questions, they were just uh, more or less the uh, uh, the history of the church, just broadly, in the broadest terms—
Reporter: —in this area, which I, which I uh, gave to him, and about all the uh— as a matter of fact, (Laughs) he called me when I was pretty stretched, so I didn’t— I wasn’t about to pull my, file you know, and uh, and uh, give him everything. I just gave him the top, off the top of my head.
Reporter: — that Jim has served on the Human Rights Commission in Indianapolis, and uh, that uh, he had uh, uh, you know, gave the approximate time when he had arrived here in Redwood Valley, and just, other than that, I just you know just on the basis that— there’d never, never anything but the most pleasant relationship between the church and the newspaper—
Reporter: — and just let it go at that.
Prokes: Uh-huh. And then he asked what you knew about the faith-healing ministry?
Reporter: No, he didn’t. No, no, he did not. Uh— the only thing he did, he mentioned that uh, what he was asking questions about related uh, to uh, the uh, faith-healing and apparently to uh, the tremendous following that Jim now has in the uh, larger cities in the coast.
Prokes: I see. I see.
Reporter: And so I just can’t you any more than that, Mike, I just, just don’t have the information. I just wasn’t about to be pulled into a detailed conversation or anything—
Reporter: —because as I say, I was just busy when he called.
Prokes: Right, well, he’s— from feedback we’ve gotten, from others he’s asked questions of, he’s conducted himself in, well, let’s say less than a professional manner.
Prokes: And uh—
Reporter: Well, why don’t you call the editors of the Chronicle, then?
Prokes: Well, I—
Reporter: I don’t know if you got a staff member that’s going around asking questions for a story—
Prokes: Yeah, that’s what uh—
Reporter: Have you got a name on this guy yet?
Prokes: Yeah. It’s something like Ki— uh, Kaldorff [Marshall Kilduff] or something like that.
Prokes: And uh, he uh, it’s just uh— he’s misrepresenting himself, evidently.
Reporter: Well, he did say Chronicle.
Prokes: He did.
Prokes: Okay. Well, that’s interesting. Well, I appreciate it, uh, George [probably George Hunter, publisher of the Ukiah Daily Journal].
Part 4: In progress phone conversation between Prokes and unknown reporter
(Ed. note: See also Tape Q 630, Part 3, for later conversation with same reporter)
Prokes: In our (unintelligible) conversation, you say that you had not talked with him because uh, he’s said some things which indicated that uh, well, several people think that, you know, he’s the seen your article, the article that, you know, you’d written on us. And uh, we’re trying to uh, find out uh, what he’s uh, up to—
Prokes: — because the feedback that we’ve gotten.
Reporter: I see no way he could have seen that article. There were four copies, I believe, one of which I guess you still have, and the other three are with me and the editors.
Reporter: And I’ve, I’ve never showed it to him.
Prokes: I see. Did- Did you say that he asked to see it?
Reporter: Well, when we had our original conversation, the day I, I left uh, for the east, um, we’d talked about getting together and, and possibly talking to each other about what we had um uh— various things we knew as a result of our— our looking into the stories. At that time I knew nothing about Kilduff, except that he was a reporter for the Chronicle. Um. Subsequently to that, I kind of asked about him, and found out he was not someone I— I would— quite apart from the controversy that uh, arose around this story, I found out he was not someone I, I really wanted to talk with to begin with.
Prokes: Umm-hmm. Did— Did he approach you, or uh, did you—
Reporter: (Straightforward) The original contact was me to him as a result of my having gotten that information that he had— was doing the story—
Reporter: —um, and that there had been some pressure to have him not do the story. So that original phone call before I left was from me. And then, when I came back, all the contacts were the other way around, with his phoning me.
Prokes: Mmm-hmm. How many times did he call?
Reporter: I think he phoned three times, two or th— I think it was three.
Reporter: The third one conceivably was my phoning him back to tell him you— that I, uh, you know, didn’t want to get together with him.
Prokes: Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. Okay, uh—
Reporter: Is he still working on the story?
Prokes: Well, (struggles for words) people call us and uh, uh, yesterday we got a call and uh, he’s still, you know, asking questions—
Prokes: — and he’s uh, going about it and so it’s a uh, well, a less than professional manner.
Prokes: And uh, we— there’s a, there’s a likelihood that uh, we’re going to sue him—
Prokes: —because of something that uh— well, a couple of things that uh, he said, and uh, we have people that uh, look like they’ll be willing to uh, you know, testify. So what we’re trying to do, is see if he uh, intends to uh, uh, publish — or try to get it published —
Prokes: — (unintelligible word) uh, we’ll initiate a suit.
Prokes: Um, but uh, I guess (struggles for words) when, when was your last contact with him?
Reporter: The Wednesday of the week I got back—
Reporter: — which, um, I got back on Easter day, so whatever the Wednesday right after that was.
Prokes: Mmm-hmm. It’s just, uh, the way he’s tried to get information is uh, uh, highly questionable.
Reporter: In what ways have they been unprofessional?
Prokes: Well, he uh, has represented himself as being uh, something other than what he is.
Prokes: And he’s said things about us that uh, are, uh, unbelievably outrageous.
Reporter: (Incredulous) Huh. In the course of the interview?
Prokes: Of, of— yes, questioning people about us.
Reporter: Kinda strange (Laughs).
Reporter: That’s not a very good way to conduct interviews, among other things.
Prokes: No, and it’s not just uh, you know— we’ve got it back from more than one person, so—
Prokes: —it’s uh—
Reporter: Have you talked to him about it?
Prokes: Uh, yes, we have.
Prokes: And uh, he uh, sort of gives you the run-around.
Prokes: But uh, it’s uh— I think that he— he still intends on pursuing this, so uh, I think uh, we have no alternative but uh— it’s legal stuff still (unintelligible word). It depends on what he’s going to do, I guess.
Reporter: Well, I’ve never met the guy, I’ve just uh, heard he’s kind of somewhat young and arrogant.
Prokes: Yeah, yeah.
Reporter: That’s, that’s the extent of my direct knowledge.
Prokes: Right. Okay. I guess you had somebody here yesterday (unintelligible phrase), covered the World Peace Council.
Reporter: Oh right, yeah, I uh, scheduled — Someone told me they were going down, I forget who that was.
Reporter: Was it a good meeting?
Prokes: Yeah, it was. It was uh, very interesting.
Reporter: Good turnout?
Prokes: Yeah, yeah, it was a good turnout.
Reporter: Good, good.
Prokes: Thank you very much.
Reporter: Okay, Mike.
Prokes: Take care. Bye.
Reporter: Bye bye.
Part 5: Phone conversation between Prokes and unknown reporter
Reporter: I, I don’t ever recall having mentioned that, um, the very first conversation, the one on the day before I left, uh, was some amount of kind of talking. I was interested in, in what he was doing. This was the first I’d heard about that someone else was working on a story on Peoples Temple, and I don’t think I really told him— I think I, I mainly kind of asked him what he was doing.
Prokes: Umm-hmm, umm-hmm.
Reporter: Um. Problem is, my notes on that are — (laughs) Uh, I took all the stuff with me East and then I mailed it all back, or some friend of mine mailed it all back to me, ‘cause I was going to Mexico and I didn’t want to take all that stuff with me. And it hadn’t yet arrived—
Reporter: —including my notes on that conversation. But my memory was that virtually everything being kind of a one way —
Reporter: —conversation of uh, uh, my asking him what he was doing.
Prokes: Umm-hmm. (Phone rings). Could you hold just one second?
Prokes: (Off main phone) I’m on the phone, can I call you back? (Back on.) Okay, go ahead.
Reporter: Um. The plane thing, I don’t know what to say, ‘cause that’s something that uh, someone had told me and conceivably the same person who uh, told him that information, uh, uh, mentioned it to, to Kilduff as well.
Prokes: Umm-hmm, umm-hmm, umm-hmm. So—
Reporter: And it wasn’t uh— As I recall, it wasn’t said in an unfriendly manner. It was actually— when I talked to that person later, ‘cause I wanted to check on some facts—
Prokes: You— you think it’s possible he could have heard it from the same person?
Reporter: It’s conceivable. It, I mean—
Prokes: It could be the same source.
Reporter: This person actually said that he had maybe been mistaken as far as— what he had heard was that had — there were two people introduced as pilots.
Reporter: Uh, I think— as I recall— Again, these notes are, it’s in the notes, but uh, there was a man and a woman—
Prokes: Oh yeah (talk over reporter)
Reporter: —introduced as the Temple’s pilots.
Reporter: And I guess he had had inferred from that, that if the Temple had pilots, it had a plane.
Reporter: I talked with him later, he said he— that was possibly an incorrect inference.
Prokes: Yeah. I— I know who that is, I think.
Prokes: Dave Whitaker, but— did, uh, do you think there was uh, uh, any— (Pause) I mean, you don’t think that you gave any information that, uh, was in the article, just inadvertently (talk over each other) — a few other things—
Reporter: Yeah, I can’t remember really having passed on any of the information from the article.
Prokes: Umm-hmm. Umm-hmm.
Reporter: Um, I— I don’t see any reason that particular point would have, would have been any of it— if there was any more general—
Prokes: —anything about the Fillmore Center? There’s some reference in there about us, involvement, wanting to get involved in the Fillmore Center. Unless I (talk over each other)
Reporter: I cannot really— it’s really hard, because it was what, now like three or four weeks ago that conversation—
Reporter: —and it was a very rushed one because I was about to leave. And obviously I was kind of also— it was a very upsetting time, obviously, so—
Prokes: Yeah, yeah.
Reporter: —(talk over each other) may make my memory less than sharp, but, I, I can’t really recall any, my having transmitted any specific information from the article to him.
Prokes: Okay. Well—
Reporter: If, if— I hope these notes are going to arrive. If, after looking at them, I uh, if that refreshes my memory to the extent that I realize what I did say more to him, I can get back to you on that, but I’m, I’m almost positive uh, uh, that there wasn’t anything like that.
Reporter: And— and— unless uh— as far as the (unintelligible word) (senior? Simi?) article, that would be uh, a virtual impossibility—
Reporter: — because the three copies that we have are with us, and we never would have showed it to him.
Prokes: Umm-hmm. Okay. Well, if you— if you do think of anything, I’d really appreciate a call.
Prokes: Thanks a lot again.
(Side 2 is blank)
Tape originally posted January 1999