Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
FBI Catalogue : Identified persons
FBI preliminary tape identification note: One Tracs 60/ “10/16/77 Steve Katsaris”
Date cues on tape: August 1977, after publication of New West article
People named :
Public figures/National and international names:
California Assemblyman Willie Brown (#5)
First Lady Rosalynn Carter (#5)
California Lt. Governor Mervyn Dymally, by reference (#5)
San Francisco District Attorney Joseph Freitas (#5)
San Francisco Sheriff Richard Hongisto, by reference (#5)
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (#5)
Former U.S. Sen. George Murphy (R-CA) (#4)
Former California Governor Ronald Reagan (#4)
Charles Manson (#2)
Jim Clancy, Action 2 news reporter (#2) (speaks)
Leslie Gelb, New York Times reporter (#5) (speaks)
Bob Gnaizda, attorney (#4) (speaks)
Charles Garry, Temple attorney (#4, #6)
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Deanna Mertle (#5)
Mickey Touchette (#5)
Peoples Temple members:
Mike Prokes (#1-6) (speaks)
Bible verses cited: None
This tape consists of six separate segments, the first of which is unintelligible, the last five of which are phone calls between Peoples Temple spokesman Mike Prokes and different attorneys and reporters regarding recent unfavorable press coverage about the Temple, especially the recent publication of the New West article.
Following the publication of the New West exposé of Peoples Temple in August 1977, numerous television stations picked up the story and interviewed Temple members – principally former, disaffected members – about their experiences in the church. Channel 2 in San Francisco launched a series of investigative reports. The second segment of this tape is a recording off the air – likely made by unidentified Temple members – of the third part of the series which begins with Q 680 and continues on Q 681. In this segment, two apostates speak about the money collected during Peoples Temple services.
In segments 3 and 4, Prokes speaks with two different attorneys regarding what to do about the charges that have been leveled in the press – especially New West – against the Temple. Both attorneys express sympathy, and one says he agrees with the advice of Charles Garry, the Temple’s lead attorney, just to lie low for a while. Prokes says Jones wants to respond, but he’s in Guyana with an ear infection, and can’t return.
In part 5, Prokes speaks with New York Times reporter Leslie Gelb, who reads an article appearing in the Times. The article speaks of the Temple’s works, its political clout, and the charges that apostates have made, and that other press organs have reported. Prokes doesn’t like the piece, saying he thinks it’s unfair to report things that aren’t true. Gelb says it’s an accurate report of what the apostates charged, and reminds Prokes, he and Jones had a chance to respond. Gelb later reminds Prokes that church members who still belong to the church had a chance to say something, but they wouldn’t; Prokes defends the refusal, saying it was made under advice of counsel. The reporter says he understands that “any publicity that’s not favorable is bad publicity.”
But Prokes says something else is going on, and he suspects it has something to do with the Temple’s presence in Guyana, a Caribbean socialist country. “[L]et me tell you, Mr. Gelb, this is the most unlikely conglomeration of people, they would’ve never gotten together on their own.”
In segment #5, Prokes tries to deflect another reporter from writing a story. He says Jones would like to answer the charges – as well as hold a press conference for the media at large, or grant other interviews – but won’t, under advice of counsel. He also criticizes the New West piece saying that those reporters interviewed Jones for two hours, but used nothing from it. The Temple members believe they aren’t being given a “fair shake,” Prokes says, and “right now they’re paranoid and upset about the media.” The conversation ends with Prokes promising to try to get Jones to speak with the reporter.
Tape Q 629 includes similar phone calls between Prokes and members of the press, although that tape was likely made a few weeks earlier.
FBI Summary :
Date of transcription : 3/14/79
In connection with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation into the assassination of U.S. Congressman LEO J. RYAN at Port Kaituma, Guyana, South America, on November 18, 1978, a tape recording was obtained. This tape recording was located in Jonestown, Guyana, South America, and was turned over to U.S. Officials in Guyana and subsequently transported to the United States.
On March 1, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape numbered 1B47 #110. This tape was found to contain the following:
Side A: An unintelligable [unintelligible] meeting with overwhelming background noise.
Side B: Recording of a Channel 7, news story concerning People’s Temple, including interviews of ex-People’s Temple members. Side B also contains recordings of several telephone conversations between MIKE PROST (PH [phonetic]) [Prokes] of People’s Temple with two unidentified attorney’s [attorneys] concerning the news media attack on People’s Temple and two conversations with a “Newsweek” reporter. Side B was apparently recorded about one week after JIM JONES left the U.S. for Guyana.
Differences with FBI Summary : None
Tape originally posted January 1999