The tape arrived at KNBC-TV in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 1, and, according to the news director, Bill Peterson, "it was spectacular." It was Tamara Rand, a 32-year-old psychic, guesting on the syndicated "Dick Maurice Show," talking about seeing "gunshots all over the place," saying that Ronald Reagan would experience "a thud" in "the chest area" during "the last few days in March," that "someone fair-haired" would be involved. She mentioned a name. "Jack Humbley."
What made the tape so spectacular was that it was allegedly done on Jan. 6.
KNBC satisfied itself that the tape was authentic and ran with it that night.
Then Cable News Network did the same.
Then, the next morning, April 2, "Today" not only went with the tape, but had Tamara Rand interviewed by Kelly Lange in Los Angeles.
Its hand thus forced, "Good Morning America" ran the CNN tape on its 7:30 newscast.
By Friday morning, April 3, both "Today" and "Good Morning America" were backing off the Rand-fandango; both shows said on the air that the story might be "a hoax." By yesterday afternoon all the shows involved had grave doubts about the authenticity of the Rank prediction.
"I have five crew members here who are willing to swear that the interview that was seen on 'Today' and 'Good Morning America' was actually taped on March 31," said Ed Quinn, general manager at KTNV-TV in Las Vegas where the Rand-Maurice taping took place.
March 31, 1981.
The day AFTER the Reagan shooting.
Tamara Rand was not accepting calls yesterday. Her phone in Los Angeles was answered with the words, "Tamara Rand Institute," by Joe Edelman, the Institute's director of hypnosis. Edelman said that "Miss Rand is referring all calls to Dick Maurice and Gary Grecco [the producer of Maurice's show] in Las Vegas." Edelman said there was another psychic on staff, and that on weekends they held "psychic fairs -- every psychic is accredited, of course." Edelman said he knew "for a fact that the predictions were taped on Jan. 6." No, he hadn't seen the show, "but Miss Rand told me what she'd said."
Efforts to reach Maurice and Grecco were unsuccessful, but AP quoted Maurice as saying that Quinn's charge that the tape was reworked on March 31 was "ridiculous." Grecco was quoted in the same story as saying that he "personally" heard Rand make the prediction on the Jan. 6 taping.
"We did our own independent checking and decided to go with it," said Arthur Lord, NBC's West Coast news director. "I couldn't believe anyone would be dumb enough to fool with this kind of thing. This is NBC Network News. You're not talking about William Holden sleeping with a giraffe, you're talking about the president of the United States.
"Now I have no reason to believe that what we played was genuine," Lord said."When I found out, in fact, that Tamara Rand had gone back into the studio with Dick Maurice to tape some spots on March 31, I demanded that they produce THAT tape for me so I could compare it to the one we used that allegedly was taped on Jan. 6. I demanded they deliver it to me. They said they would last [Thursday] night. I still don't have it. This woman's reputation is at stake. Dick Maurice's reputation is at stake. You'd think they'd jump through hoops to prove themselves."
"If it is a hoax, then everyone was duped," said John Goodman, spokesman for "GMA." "We never would have run it if we didn't think it was true."
"We all feel abused. What really drives us crazy is that we really went to great length to verify it," said Peterson.
"There is now some question as to whether the tape was doctored after the shooting," said Art Sando, spokesman for Turner (CNN, WTBS) Broadcasting. "CNN is investigating the entire incident, and Dick Maurice has been discontinued pending the outcome of the investigation."
Meanwhile, the Psychic Swarm continues.
Mike Terry, program director at WXAM Radio in Charlottesville, Va., played a tape in a telephone interview yesterday, purportedly of a call-in show from Nov. 5, 1980 -- the day after the presidential election. On the tape, Noreen Ranier of Barboursville, Va., said "I feel very insecure about this, but I keep feeling problems in his [Reagan's] chest. It's not a natural problem; perhaps it might come from the outside. I think we should watch his health in the next six months." Terry also played a tape, allegedly of a seance in Ranier's home, in which Ranier says of Reagan, "He will be shot . . . shoulder . . . chest area . . . 81 . . . He'll live." That seance allegedly was conducted in January, but Terry says he received it from Ranier after the assassination attempt, and he's going on faith that it actually was taped well before the event.
A man identifying himself as John Monti, a 30-year-old self-employed painter from Massachusetts, telephoned to say he too had predicted that Reagan would be "shot on the left side of his body after making a speech in Washington before the end of March." Monti said he made such a prediction on March 4, on a talk show on WKBR radio in Manchester, N.H. Monti said he knew Reagan would survive. He also said he'd had deathly premonitions about John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and John Lennon. "I get these psychic feelings about once a day," Monti said. "I've gotten them ever since I was a baby. You know, when I was a little baby my crib was hit by lightning, and my mother pulled me out just before the bolt hit." Monti said he thought it was normal to be a psychic. He then predicted economic woes in Great Britain, conflict in Poland and an earthquake in Alaska within the next 11 days. For good measure he predicted the Atlanta killings would be solved, and "a woman and more than one person in the medical field will be involved."
Back in Rand Land, Art Sando, investigating the matter for Turner Broadcasting, gave this version:
The show Rand allegedly taped on Jan. 6 to air on WTBS, Truner's Atlanta Superstation, on Jan. 17 was preempted for a college basketball game. KNBC and CNN received confirmation of her appearance on a Dick Maurice Show, but the one she was on was actually aired last Saturday "and she made no predictions about Ronald Reagan."
A Dick Maurice Show taped on Jan. 6 did run on KNTV on Jan. 18, but, according to Ed Quinn, Rand wasn't on it.
"Rand now says that her predictions had been deleted because she slurred her words," said Sando.
So there appears to be no record of any Jan. 6 tape in which Rand predicts the shooting of Ronald Reagan, according to Sando.
Rand says in a wire story that she and Maurice did tape segments on March 31. According to AP, she "rearticulated" her Jan. 6 prediction on March 31. She also claims in a UPI story she tried to contact the White House to warn Reagan of the danger. A spokeswoman for the correspondence office of the White House said yesterday that "the White House gets 30,000 letters a day. There are so many nuts that call in all the time with stuff like this. Even if she made the call no one here would have believed her. Give me a break."