CNN's Brian Stelter compares Donald Trump supporters to Jonestown cult members


CNN anchor Brian Stelter used his Sunday show “Reliable Sources” to feature a segment comparing Donald Trump supporters to Jonestown cult members. 

Stelter spoke with Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., to help explain the similarities between Trump supporters and Jonestown cultists. Speier, who survived the Jonestown massacre while investigating it years ago, agreed with the comparison between the Trump “cult,” as Stelter called it, and the Jonestown members.

“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, doesn’t come up a lot in American news coverage, so I wanted to put it to an expert, an unfortunate expert,” Stelter opened.


Stelter introduced Speier’s comments claiming he “wanted to hear her thoughts about the comparison, the notion of the cult of Trump, especially in the light of January 6 and the mass delusion that led to a riot of lies on Capitol Hill.”

Speier openly compared Trump with Jonestown leader Jim Jones. 

“There’s no question that you could compare Jim Jones as a charismatic leader who would bring his congregation together,” Speier stated. “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.”

Jim Jones originally lead more than 900 members of his settlement in Guyana to commit mass suicide by cyanide in 1978. A California congressman, Representative Leo Ryan, and four other people were also killed in an ambush attempting to investigate the group.

Although Speier and Stelter attempted to connect Jim Jones to Trump’s supporters, National Review reporter Daniel Flynn previously noted Jones’ previous connections to Democrat politicians and figures.

“Willie Brown, who would become the speaker of the California State Assembly and then mayor of San Francisco, compared Jim Jones to Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. Harvey Milk described Jonestown as ‘a beautiful retirement community’ helping to ‘alleviating the world food crisis.’ California lieutenant governor Mervyn Dymally actually made a pilgrimage to Jonestown that led to a gushing reaction typical of ideological tourists,” Flynn noted.


Stelter’s Sunday show has been plagued with low rating since Trump left office. The previous week was yet another ratings low for “Reliable Sources” in a key demographic. It was reported the show received only 100,000 viewers in the key demo of adults age 25-54, the lowest rated numbers for 2021.


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