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Newsweek’s 1978 Jonestown issue

The Times, in preparation for Sunday’s story on the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre, got ahold of a copy of the Dec. 4, 1978, issue of Newsweek magazine, which featured a 26-page special report on the calamity that unfolded that Nov. 18.

It was an impressive and comprehensive report, and we’ll get to it in a minute. But first we have to touch on the most remarkable thing about the issue: the advertising, which looks like was it produced on a different planet.

This single installment of Newsweek contained 23 separate full-page liquor ads, from Christian Brothers and Crown Royal to Seagram’s and Tanqueray.

One ad for Wolfschmidt vodka consists of a gauzy photo depicting a czar, his wife and an enormous dog at the foot of a marble staircase, with copy recalling an age when the czar was a “giant among men” who could “bend an iron bar on his bare knee” and had a “thirst for life like no man alive.”

(The ad reproduced above is not the same one we’re describing but it’s from the same series. Copy is the same, and the wolfman-like czar, lady and dog are the same, though the pose is different. Link to the site that uploaded the image here.)

Leafing through these ads, we realized: No wonder print journalism is in an advertising tailspin. All those politically correct do-gooders in Washington have restricted the rights of liquor companies to cater to Americans’ unslakeable thirst for booze.

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Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: Aaron Kinney, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier, Jonestown, Leo Ryan, San Mateo County, Tom Lantos | 3 Comments »