Summary prepared by Fielding M. McGehee III. If you use this material, please credit The Jonestown Institute. Thank you.
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FBI Catalogue Identified Individuals Speaking
FBI preliminary tape identification note: None
Date cues on tape: mid-April 1978 (eight months after publication of New West article; references to head of Guyana Livestock Corporation date from this period as well)
Dr. Peter Fernandes, head of Guyana Livestock Board
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of Unification Church
Charles Garry, Temple attorney
Temple adversaries; members of Concerned Relatives:
Walter “Smitty” Jones (by reference)
Sandy Bradshaw (speaks)
John Victor Stoen (by reference)
Bible verses cited: None
Temple member Sandy Bradshaw talks to a broadcast reporter about making a television documentary about Peoples Temple.
The reporter – who is never addressed by name during the 30-minute telephone conversation – has been a friend of the Temple and of Jim Jones since its Redwood Valley days. By his own admission, he has purposefully distanced himself from investigating the allegations raised in the New West article some eight months prior to this call. As a result, he has also heard little about the scope of the Jonestown agricultural project, although he is audibly impressed when Bradshaw talks about the facilities, the acreage in cultivation, and the population that the community supports.
Bradshaw wants not only editorial control over the project – she wants to approve ground rules for the documentary “in writing” before they start, she wants to review the final script before it airs – but also control over the logistics of the filming, such as the length of time it would take and the make-up of the television crew which would go to Jonestown. She dismisses questions about some aspects of the Temple’s recent history – such as the allegations raised in New West – as absurd, and asserts that pursuing them would dignify the questions themselves. Instead, as she indicates repeatedly, the final work is to be about the “selfless” work Jim Jones has done and how that work reflects the strength of his own character and integrity.
The major difference in the approach that Bradshaw wants to steer the documentary and the off-the-cuff ideas that the reporter might have for it, is in how to address the negative publicity Jonestown has received. Bradshaw wants the documentary to show how happy and healthy everyone in the community is; the reporter wants unfettered access to Jim Jones, to random Jonestown residents, and even to John Victor Stoen, the subject of the child custody suit which now underlies all discussion of the Temple.
The reality that the two parties are talking about different completed works becomes most apparent near the end of the conversation, even if the two people don’t realize it – or at least spell it out – themselves. Bradshaw wants to commission a professionally-shot (and vetted) propaganda piece, the costs of which the Temple will underwrite. The newsman wants to do a five-part news special, culminating with a half-hour interview with Jones, to run on his station. This becomes obvious when Bradshaw starts talking about the financial aspects of the proposal, and the reporter replies that money isn’t the issue, that what he needs to do is clear the idea with the station.
For all the experience and ability the Temple supposedly had in wooing the media and cultivating its contacts so that stories about it would be favorable, the phone call reveals an approach in press relations which is both naïve and heavy-handed. Bradshaw reminds the reporter that they have always stood for freedom of the press, suggesting that that support should give them some deference. She dismisses Temple critics as “dissenters and liars” whose backgrounds should be investigated to reveal their real motives. Jim Jones’ version of the circumstances of John Victor Stoen’s paternity might seem like adultery to the rest of the world, she tacitly acknowledges, “unless you’re a leader of thousands of people who look up to you and who you know will be hurt, unless you make this sacrifice.” Finally, even as she denigrates the other media outlets, she butters up the reporter over and over. “Jim has spoken of your sensitivity over the years,” she says early in the conversation, “and I can remember repeatedly hearing him speak of you with fondness.” She reinforces the point – and the reason for it – later. “I think he believes that you would be sensitive enough to present his honesty in an objective way.”
Whatever negotiations followed from this conversation, no Bay Area reporters or camera crews went down to the Jonestown project, and the documentary that Bradshaw envisioned was never made.
Date of transcription: 6/19/79
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 June 11, 1979, Special Agent (name deleted) reviewed the tape number 1B10241. This tape was found to contain the following: A call from SANDY BRADSHAW of the Temple to a television newsman friend of JIM JONES soliciting a television documentary on the Temple.
Differences with FBI Summary:
The summary is accurate and meets the FBI’s purposes.
Tape originally posted January 2013