CNN Stoops to New Low: Compares Trump Supporters to Jonestown Massacre
'There's no question' you 'could compare' the two 'charismatic leaders'
CNN’s Brian Stelter invited a comparison of the “cult” of Trump to the horrific Jim Jones cult killings in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978.
During Sunday's edition of 'Reliable Sources,' Shelter brought aboard Rep. Jackie Speier, a Jonestown massacre survivor, to compare the “cult of Trump” with the mass murder-suicide of the Rev. Jim Jones followers.
“I wanted to hear her thoughts about the comparison, the notion of the cult of Trump,” Stelter said in setting up the welcoming California lawmaker.
Speier, who was shot at as she tried to escape at an airfield when she was a member of the staff of Rep. Leo Ryan, said:
“There's no question” you “could compare” the two “charismatic leaders,” she said.
Stelter played along:
“It’s scary to hear that when you have observed the Trump phenomenon, you have seen similarities to Jonestown.”
Stelter opened the segment by relaying feedback from international viewers:
“Why doesn’t the American media just call out Trump for what he is, call Trump fandom for what it is? Sometimes they use the word, cult.”
From the start of the segment on the Aug. 1 Reliable Sources on CNN:
BRIAN STELTER: Welcome back to Reliable Sources, live in the U.S. and all around the world. And one of the great things about being shown on CNN International is that I hear from viewers who observe American political dysfunction from an outsider’s point of view. These citizens in other countries sometimes email me and say, you know, why doesn’t the American media just call out Trump for what he is, call Trump fandom for what it is? Sometimes they use the word cult. I know that’s a sensitive word. It doesn’t come up a lot in American news coverage.
So, I wanted to put it to an expert, an unfortunate expert, Congresswoman Jackie Speier started out her career in politics, working for a lawmaker. She’s on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown. She sadly knows firsthand about the weight of that word, cult. She was able to escape with her life, others were not able to that day. So, I wanted to hear her thoughts about the comparison, the notion of the cult of Trump, especially in the light of January 6th, and the mass delusion that led people to a riot of lies on Capitol Hill. When I brought this up with her, she did not mince words.
Jackie Speier, former aide to late Congressman Leo Ryan, D-Calif., poses in her home in suburban San Francisco with a bust of the congressman, Nov. 13, 1979. On a fact-finding mission with Congressman Ryan to Jonestown, Speier's arms and legs were ripped with bullets on the Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana. Congressman Ryan was killed. The bust, sculpted by Bruce Kueffer of Belmont, Calif., was delivered to her recently.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER: There’s no question that you could compare Jim Jones as a charismatic leader, who would bring his congregation together, forced them to do things that were illegal, and then took 900 of them into the jungles of Guyana, where over the course of time, he then convinced them that they should die. I’ve never been able to say they committed suicide because I don’t think they were in control of their faculties, to be quite honest with you.
So, you look at Donald Trump, charismatic leader, who was able to continue to talk in terms that appealed to those who are disaffected, disillusioned, and who were looking for something, much like those who became part of Jim Jones’s congregation, the People’s Temple. They were lost, souls. And the only difference between Jim Jones and Donald Trump is the fact that we now have social media. So, all these people can find themselves in ways that they couldn’t find themselves before.
So, he basically was a merchant of deceit, both of them merchants of deceit, both of them making people not look at facts, not think independently. And sowed a story for them that was indeed destructive.
STELTER: It’s scary to hear that when you have observed the Trump phenomenon, you have seen similarities to Jonestown.