In the 1990s the Democratic Party created an elaborate plan that ran multiple years and secretly trained thousands of activists to manipulate the media. This is according to documents from the Clinton Presidential Library.
The Talk Radio Initiative (TRI) was launched by the Democratic National Committee with the approval of the Clinton ran White House. These activists were trained to call in to radio shows, conduct surveillance of their contents, and secretly disseminate Democratic talking points while posing as ordinary listeners.
"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."
Read the actual docs - https://t.co/ZMGsEvzJk4
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) September 11, 2019
Per Free Beacon:
"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."
There were many radio show hosts who suspected that callers were being trained to fill their shows with sympathetic callers. Lars Larson, a radio host in the Pacific Northwest, remembers receiving many of these calls, but had no idea they were 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," Lars Larson said. "It was the same language on the same subject and the same arguments."
The Dems pushed this program as bringing "truth" to radio. The inner workings of this program were kept secret for decades, though.
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More on the plan from Free Beacon:
"Sound dumb," a DNC-published TRI guide said. "Even though you may have indicated a difference of opinion with the host, appear to present an opportunity for him to demolish you with his ‘superior' intelligence."
The guide also offered advice on how to deflect tough questions, emphasizing that "the key is that you can always just change the subject." It also said activists should "reach out to the women listeners who may not usually call in" because "you can appeal to women with children who are being hurt by the Republican budget cuts."
Larson said sometimes they kept going back to the same talking points that the host wasn't even discussing:
There were usually some giveaways. Many pro-Clinton listeners dialed up his Portland station using Boston or New York area codes. Different callers would recite the same talking points back-to-back on a topic that Larson was not even discussing.
"They would call in and you would be talking about taxes and they would call in on something that involved an entirely different subject," Larson said. "And when you got that second call, it was on that entirely different subject from a different caller with a different voice and a different phone number, but running the same arguments in the same way."
It's not clear when this operation actually ended, but TRI Director Jon-Christopher Bua left the DNC after the 1996 election and there were no mentions of TRI after that.