New documents found in the Clinton Presidential Library revealed that the Democratic Party developed a secret operation to influence public opinion in the face of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign.
It was an operation designed by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), with the blessing of the White House, called the Talk Radio Initiative (TRI).
The plot consisted of training thousands of volunteer activists to monitor the contents of different radio programs across the country and call posing as listeners to disseminate Democratic talking points, the Washington Free Beacon explains.
“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,” said a 1995 TRI guide prepared by Michigan Democrats.
“Democratic performance in the 1996 elections will no doubt be affected by the success or failure of this initiative,” the guide continued.
Many radio show hosts became aware of these maneuvers when suddenly their programs were flooded with calls from Democratic sympathizers who seemed to be reading a script. Lars Larson was one of them.
“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.”
The Washington Free Beacon, who conducted the investigation, says that this operation took place over several years in the 1990s and that even some Democrats commented on an initiative to bring “the truth” back to radio.
A comprehensive study of reports and internal documents filed at the Clinton Presidential Library, including secret DNC communiqués, confidential state party documents, and executive memos for the president revealed that “Democrats systematically trained more than 4,000 operatives in at least 23 states to lie about their identities, deflect difficult questions from hosts, and plant pro-Democrat messages on the radio waves,” says the Free Beacon.
“If you are afraid that producers are beginning to recognize your name and are weary of allowing you on the air, use an alias,” the Michigan Democrats’ TRI guide read. “For example, be Carol today, Sue tomorrow, and Debbie on Friday!”
The guide offered all sorts of tips on how to avoid difficult questions: “The key is that you can always just change the subject.”
White House Involvement
Documents found indicate that the Clinton administration closely monitored this operation to neutralize conservative radio stations in preparation for the 1996 presidential election.
TRI director Jon-Christopher Bua allegedly wrote a memo to White House deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes in April 1996, saying:
“My office is now coordinating closely with talk radio shops in the White House, Federal Departments, and Agencies, the House, the Senate, and [the] ones I have helped set up in the State Parties.”
Ickes reportedly sent the note to President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, among others.
Rush Limbaugh, a popular radio presenter in the 1990s who was very critical of Clinton, recalled Tuesday that at the time all media were in favor of Democrats, according to Premiere Networks.
Limbaugh hosted a three-hour radio program on KMOX where he criticized Bill Clinton and, according to him, the president went crazy.
” Bill Clinton went crazy… Bill Clinton was totally bamboozled by one three-hour radio show. Blaming me for the Oklahoma City bombing, anything he could talk about. One radio show,” recalls the presenter.
He tells how President Clinton once called the network from Air Force One to complain about Limbaugh’s program.
“One three-hour radio show ticked off Bill Clinton,” says the legendary broadcaster.
“Trump is in the same situation, except he’s not facing one three-hour radio show. He’s got the entirety of the American news industry, the totality of the American news industry—and his response to it is to tweet,” Limbaugh added.
“For all of you that are made nervous by it, get over it, because he’s not gonna stop it, and he’s gonna continue to punch down,” he added.