Newsbusters: CNN's 'Escape From Jonestown' Downplays Democratic Connections

View the original post and all its comments here: CNN's 'Escape From Jonestown' Downplays Democratic Connections http://newsbusters.org/blogs/michael-m-bates/2008/11/14/cnns-escape-jonestown-downplays-democratic-connections
(this posting is merely a scrapbook copy)
By Michael M. Bates
November 14, 2008 - 11:37 ET

On Thursday, CNN aired "Escape from Jonestown," presented by CNN special investigations unit corespondent Soledad O'Brien. This week marks thirty years since the horrific deaths of more than 900 people, roughly a third of them children, at Jonestown. The massacre was orchestrated by "Reverend" Jim Jones. What CNN barely referenced was Jones's connection to several leading Democratic politicians of the time. O'Brien did identify Jones as a believer in socialism and, with a survivor, passingly alluded to his influence in the Democratic Party:

O'BRIEN: In 1975, Jones moved his church headquarters from Redwood Valley down to San Francis, to a larger stage, where he became a political force and a face in photo-ops.

GOSNEY: Roslyn (sic) Carter was campaigning for Jimmy Carter. I believe that was 1976. And there was going to be a rally downtown. Literally, we stuffed the building. We were -- we were the rally.

Jones was much more than a face in a photo-op. Democratic San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed him to the city's housing authority. Willie Brown, who later served as Democratic Speaker of the California Assembly, in 1976 introduced Jones as a combination Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein and Chairman Mao.

That same year Senator Walter Mondale, later elected vice president, invited Jones to meet with him on his campaign plane. The People's Temple chief also had a personal meeting with Jimmy Carter's wife, Rosalynn.

Jones referenced that in 1977 when he wrote to the First Lady and recommended the U.S. government give Cuba medical supplies. He mentioned his "deep appreciation for the privilege of dining privately with you prior to the election." She replied by saying she'd enjoyed the experience and hoped the U.S. would adopt his suggestion on Cuba.

When Jones moved his operation to Guyana, he brought with him written accolades from several liberal Democrats.

Wrote Walter Mondale: "Knowing of your congregation's deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me."

Alaska Senator Mike Gravel thought the People's Temple "was almost too good to be true." California Congressman Don Edwards expressed the wish that "there were more like the people of the People's Temple Christian Church."

Joseph Califano, an official in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and secretary of health, education and welfare for Jimmy Carter wrote Jones: "Knowing your commitment and compassion, your interest in protecting individual liberty and freedom have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the cause of human dignity."

Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey said that Jones' work "is testimony to the positive and truly Christian approach to dealing with the myriad problems confronting our society today."

No, Jim Jones was more than just a face in a photo-op. He benefited from the attention and praise of several notable Democratic politicians of the era. In a two-hour program, that relevant part of history should have been reported.



Related post on watchpaul (mine) - with links to Jonestown Apologist's Alert (Tom Kinsolving's blog):

So, as the Anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre approaches, there are specials on the various networks, and stories in the paper. It's that time of year when Tim Stoen has to endure yet another few days of exquisite torture; interviews, attention and notoriety. This year is a big one, the 30 Year Anniversary.

Everyone 'knows' what happened, or thinks they do. This article in the Chronicle 10 days that shook S.F. gives a pretty good accounting with one major, repetitive flaw.

The Chronicle always leave out the early exposés written by Les Kinsolving. He was the Religion Writer for the San Francisco Examiner back then, and he had been approached by people who were very concerned about what was happening in People's Temple. They were begging the paper to 'do SOMETHING!'

His series was killed because of pressure from the Temple, including pressure from the Temple's Attorney, Jim Jones' second-in-command-right-hand-man, Tim Stoen.

Kinsolving's pieces can be viewed here, including the pieces that did not run.
1. THE PROPHET WHO RAISES THE DEAD Examiner [September 17, 1972 Page 1]
2. 'HEALING' PROPHET HAILED AS GOD AT S.F. REVIVAL Examiner [Monday, Sept. 18, 1972]
3. D.A. AIDE (Stoen) OFFICIATES FOR MINOR BRIDE Wednesday, September 20, 1972
4. PROBE ASKED OF PEOPLE'S TEMPLE Wednesday, September 20, 1972
They can also be viewed here: jonestownapologistsalert.blogspot.com/

Stoen apologized to Kinsolving a few years ago. (Press Democrat) presumably that apology is meant to cover not only getting the stories killed but the plot to kill Kinsolving himself.

The Chronicle would do well to get over whatever its reason for ignoring Kinsolving's work. Leaving out this important part of the story does a disservicve to their readers.

The story of the people who tried to do something, who tried to stop the madness long before the massacre is one that really ought to be told. No one took them seriously, no one listened, and they risked their lives to get the truth out. IF anyone had paid attention, 900 people might be alive today.

His weren't the only pieces that were squashed by pressure from the Temple (Indianapolis Star reporter Carolyn Pickering had the goods on Jones years before that....), there's alot to be told. And the newspapers have alot to atone for.

(And CNN isn't makin' it any better: CNN's 'Escape From Jonestown' Downplays Democratic Connections)