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.”
If the GOP were doing this, it would be a dangerous conspiracy. Since it’s the Democrats, it’ll get the “politics ain’t beanbag” treatment.