A heavily redacted memo from then-President Bill Clinton’s White House, released last week as part of a vast cache of papers from the Clinton Library, revealed that the disgraced administration was frantic about the rise of the free Internet and its implications. The radical document expresses paranoia about the fact that Americans — especially those on what it calls the “right wing” — could now bypass the establishment media to spread the truth and ideas, all of it “unregulated.” Gasp!
The White House counsel’s office and the Democratic National Committee feverishly sought to stop the earth-shattering developments, even conspiring with their allies in the old “establishment” media while demonizing their foes as “right wing” so-called “conspiracy theorists.” It appears, however, that they largely failed to stop the Internet revolution, at least so far. Indeed, the Web continues to be the bane of establishment political and media classes in the United States and worldwide — and those trends are only intensifying as the implosion of the “mainstream” media’s credibility accelerates.
The 1995 so-called “conspiracy commerce memo,” shared with key figures in the “mainstream” press and first acknowledged publicly in 1997, describes how the budding Internet was becoming a “mode of communication employed by the right wing to convey their fringe stories into legitimate subjects of coverage by the mainstream media.” According to the document, the process often began with reports from a conservative newsletter or think-tank. From there, the story would hit the Internet before being picked up by elements of the establishment media through a variety of means, the memo complained.
“The internet has become one of the major and most dynamic modes of communication,” explains the document, authored by an as-yet unnamed White House bureaucrat with collaboration from the DNC. “The internet can link people, groups and organizations together instantly. Moreover, it allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all. The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people.”
Beyond just bypassing the so-called “mainstream” media and communicating ideas to “people” — a frightening prospect to those in power with something to hide, or establishment figures with a deeply controversial agenda that would be rejected if exposed — the White House had an even bigger reason to be concerned. “Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information,” the document continues, with “extremists” presumably referring to non-establishment voices opposed to Clinton’s agenda.
In other words — while hardly surprising — the ruling establishment had a well-founded fear that it would be exposed now that Americans could instantly communicate with each other and share information in an “unregulated” manner. Even worse, the White House was paranoid that everyday Americans might even obtain a greater voice in government by “interacting” with congressional staffers on the World Wide Web. After redaction, the 331-page memo has been whittled down to just 28 pages, but even what was released publicly has sparked alarm.
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