Before there was social media, there was talk radio.
The Democratic party developed an elaborate, multi-year operation in the 1990s that deployed thousands of activists to covertly mold public opinion using talk radio, according to documents from the Clinton Presidential Library.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC), with the blessing of the Clinton White House, launched the Talk Radio Initiative (TRI) ahead of the 1996 campaign. The program trained thousands of operatives to call in to radio shows, conduct surveillance of their contents, and secretly disseminate Democratic talking points while posing as ordinary listeners.
“Volunteers must be able to keep the project confidential so as not to create the image of a ‘Democratic conspiracy’ to infiltrate Detroit area talk radio shows,” a 1995 TRI guide prepared by Michigan Democrats said. “Democratic performance in the 1996 elections will no doubt be affected by the success or failure of this initiative.”
Radio show hosts long suspected that someone was training so-called “seminar callers” to inundate their shows with sympathetic callers. Lars Larson, a host in the Pacific Northwest since the mid-1990s, recalled being on the receiving end of many such calls, but was not aware that many may have been trained by the DNC.
“You would get calls, an hour apart, from different people with different voices and different names, but they would talk the same lines. So close that you knew that this was not a coincidence,” Larson said. “It was the same language on the same subject and the same arguments.”
One of the things I noticed during the 2008 primaries and the general election was that pro-Obama talking points would appear simultaneously in comments across social media using nearly identical language. I first noticed it when Obama gave his Greatest Speech on Race EVER (the one where he threw his grandma under the bus while affirming his close relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright) when I noticed two different people commenting on two different blogs who both claimed to have been moved to tears just from reading a transcript of the speech. Later, I found a third one saying the same thing.
Not long after that I became a moderator at TC and I was able to see more evidence of coordination in the comments made by trolls. What has been seen cannot be unseen. Once I became aware of what was happening it became more and more obvious. Sometimes they worked in teams.
When John McCain (MHBIH) announced that he had chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate it caught the Obama campaign completely by surprise. The Obama trolls were uncharacteristically silent for nearly an hour, then all at once, they were singing in unison about a small-town mayor who lacked the experience to be POTUS. The Obama campaign obviously didn’t have any official talking points about Sarah Palin so the trolls didn’t know what to say at first.
All the stuff the Democrats accuse the Russians of doing in the last election is what the Democrats have been doing for years. That’s what makes this part ironic:
Bua credited then-first lady Hillary Clinton with coming up with the initiative, while he was hosting a TRI seminar for feminists at the 1996 convention, according to a National Review dispatch. Clinton’s approach to private actors manipulating public opinion through popular media has changed in the wake of the 2016 election. She has since claimed that “misinformation” by “domestic actors” on social media helped lead to her surprise loss to President Donald Trump.
“The big social media platforms know their systems are being manipulated by foreign and domestic actors to sow division, promote extremism and spread misinformation,” Hillary said at a June commencement address.
Democrats hate it when you beat them at their own game.