History of Democrats.com
Democrats.com was founded by two Democratic political veterans, David Lytel and Bob Fertik. Our goal was to create the best possible news and community site for America's 100 million Democrats. We called ourselves the "aggressive progressives" to highlight our determination to fight for the progressive values that unite Democrats.
On September 27, 2000, Democrats.com introduced the first daily e-mail newsletter written by and for Democrats. We also created the first online Democratic community that was free of right-wing attackers.
During the fall campaign, Democrats.com tried to alert the media and the nation to the fact that Bush had lied in his biography about his National Guard service, and in fact went AWOL for the last two years of his six-year obligation. Our effort was led by Lt. Bob Rogers (Ret.), an 11-year Air National Guard veteran. We and others offered thousands of dollars in rewards for any witnesses who could prove Bush reported for duty either in Alabama or Texas in his last two years, but no one ever claimed the rewards. Three days before the election, the New York Times ignored all witnesses and instead cited a torned, undated, and unsigned document as "proof" that Bush reported for duty. The rest of the media followed the lead of the Times in killing the story - which resurfaced in February 2004 (more below).
When the polls closed on Election Day, Florida was the deciding state - and it was too close to call. At 2 a.m. that night, Bush's cousin John Ellis at Fox News called Florida for Bush, which was quickly followed by NBC, CBS, and the morning newspapers. Democrats.com heard about widespread voting problems in Palm Beach, so we contacted local lawyers to help investigate. We ran a banner ad campaign at on the Palm Beach Post's Web site to collect thousands of affidavits from voters who experienced problems. These and similar reports led the Gore campaign to request a recount in Palm Beach, Miami Dade, Broward, and Volusia - where a massive computer glitch caused Gore to initially concede to Bush.
While Republicans screamed "Sore Loser" and "Get Over It," Democrats.com organized dozens of nation-wide protests to "Count Every Vote" at TrustThePeople.com. We also launched JusticeinFlorida.org to support a lawsuit by voters in Seminole County Florida against Election Supervisor Sandra Goard, who illegally permitted GOP operatives to fill in 4,700 incomplete Republican absentee ballot requests, while discarding incomplete Democratic absentee ballot requests.
As recounting proceeded in various counties, Democrats.com was the only Web site keeping track of the actual results (GoreWonFlorida.org). Katherine Harris certified Bush as the winner on 11/27/00 by only 537 votes; on 12/9, Florida's Supreme Court added 383 Gore votes from manual recounts in Palm Beach and Miami Dade - cutting Bush's lead to 154 - and ordered a recount in all of Florida's other counties. But a 5-4 Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court stopped that statewide recount, thus making Bush America's first court-appointed President. On Jan. 6, when Congress met to count the Electoral College votes, Democrats.com drafted a formal challenge to Florida's electors for the Congressional Black Caucus. Nearly four years later, this challenge became famous as the opening sequence of Fahrenheit 9-11.
Chronology of major events:
8/15/00: Democrats.com officially launches with a "Hush-in" on privacy at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles featuring Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY), Rep. Jay Inslee (WA), Attorney General Christine Gregoire (WA), privacy advocates Robert Ellis Smith, Bob Gellman, Evan Hendricks, novelist David Brin, and industry visionaries El St. John (Silvertech) and Alex Fowler (Zero-Knowledge Systems).
9/20/00: Democrats.com begins the first daily news service written by and for Democrats. In order to reach the largest possible audience, Democrats.com News is available by e-mail for free, relying on the support of its generous readers.
10/4/00: In its first investigative report called "The Smoking Jet", Democrats.com reveals that George W. Bush was mysteriously suspended from flight with two years left in his military service, and never again reported for a single day of duty, contrary to two direct orders. Democrats offers a $1,000 reward for anyone who can prove that Bush actually reported for duty with the Alabama National Guard in 1972, as Bush insists without evidence. The reward remains unclaimed.
11/9/00: Amidst reports of widespread voting irregularities in Florida, Democrats.com launches a Web site called Trust the People. Democrats.com collects affidavits from Palm Beach voters who believe their votes for Al Gore were wrongly counted for another candidate.
12/1/00: Democrats.com launches a Web site called Justice in Florida to support the lawsuit by voters in Seminole County Florida against Election Supervisor Sandra Goard, who illegally permitted GOP operatives to fill in 4,700 incomplete Republican absentee ballot requests, while discarding incomplete Democratic absentee ballot requests.
1/6/01: Democrats.com drafts a formal challenge to Florida's electors for the Congressional Black Caucus. Fourteen House Democrats protest the Supreme Court's illegal selection of George W. Bush by walking out of Congress.
12/10/01: Washington DC forum: Authors of Books About the 2000 Election and its Aftermath, held at American University, drew 200 students and citizens. The featured authors were Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., author of A More Perfect Union, Newsweek reporter David Kaplan, author of The Accidental President, Nation columnist John Nichols, author of Jews for Buchanan, and U.S.Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, author of Breaking the Deadlock
12/12/01: Rising from the Ashes, Towards Democratic Victories in 2002 and 2004, a forum held at the historic Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City, drew 500 enthusiastic Democrats who refuse to ""get over it."" Featured speakers included pundit Paul Begala, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl McCall, NYU professors Todd Gitlin and Mark Crispin Miller, activist Liz Abzug, talk show host Ellen Ratner, author John Nichols, Mediachannel.com editor Danny Schechter, State Senator Tom Duane, City Council members Yvette Clarke and Robert Jackson.
1/4/02: Democrats.com issues an activist alert to our members and others asking them to show their support for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's sensible plan for economic recovery that generates hundreds of letters and gets a few dozen published in papers across the country.
1/11/02: Democrats.com introduces Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie to Nation Books, which agrees to publish an English language version of their groundbreaking book Bin Laden: The Hidden Truth about the secret diplomatic failures that led to the September 11th attacks.
1/14/02: Democrats.com launches Enrongate Web site and Internet advertising campaign to amplify its call for a special prosecutor.
2/1/02: Democrats.com opens a new office in Washington, DC.
3/1/02: In response to the ""swift and ferocious"" attack on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Democrats.com puts out an activist alert asking members to write a letter in support of Daschle to their local newspapers.
3/8/02: Democrats.com launches RadioActivism.com to engage activists to protest the firing of the sole non-conservative voice left on the air in Washington, DC, the capital of the free world.
3/9/02: We host an online chat with award-winning journalist Greg Palast, who discusses his book The Best Democracy Money can Buy as well as his recent article in Harper's about the unlawful efforts of the State of Florida to remove citizens from its voter rolls.
3/11/02: Democrats.com co-founders David Lytel and Bob Fertik begin a new original column exclusively on Democrats.com called Capital Offenses: A report on the latest outrages from Washington, DC
3/15/02: We release a new game called Pick Up Ann Coulter.
4/01/02: In our annual celebration of April Fool's day, we release UnfairandImbalanced.com.
4/02/02: To celebrate Paul Begala and James Carville's arrival on CNN's Crossfire, we open FairandBalancedBouquet.com which allows people to send a red, white and blue bouquet of flowers to the CNN executive in Atlanta who hired them.
4/02/02: Democrats.com launches a Caught in the Crossfire feature on Democrats.com that highlights the best exchange on CNN's Crossfire each night, in case you missed the show and enjoy sharing that glorious moment when Novak and Carlson scream at the unfairness of being challenged by Carville and Begala.
4/03/02: Democrats.com arranges a 45 minute guest appearance on C-SPAN for Greg Palast, a visit to the DNC to meet Terry McAuliffe, and his presentation before 250 citizens at the Martin Luther King, Jr. library in downtown Washington (along with co-sponsors WPFW-FM, VoterMarch, the National Newspaper Guild and Vertigo Books).
4/12/02: Democrats.com co-founder David Lytel makes a presentation on Internet-enabled campaigning and the role of the Internet in returning the Democrats to power at the Campaign for America's Future meeting in Washington.
4/13/02: The Washington Post publishes Democrats.com co-founder David Lytel's op-ed on the mistreatment Al Gore has received by the commercial news media.
4/29/02: Democrats.com publishes a Special Report on its exclusive interview with Jean-Charles Brisard, co-author with Guillaume Dasquie of Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, reviewing how well their reporting of the events leading up to the September 11th attacks has held up since it was originally published in France six months ago.
5/8/02: Democrats.com holds a party/meeting in San Francisco to discuss setting up a Northern California chapter of Democrats.com
6/5/02: Democrats.com launches BuckStopsThere.com to provide ongoing coverage of the series of revelations on the Bush Administration's advance knowledge and warning of the attacks that came on 9/11
6/13/02: The new Northern California Chapter of Democrats.com meets for drinks, dinner and discussion in San Francisco
6/14/02: Democrats.com holds a political party in Berkeley.
6/19/02: Democrats.com delivers a detailed letter from researcher Nancy Kuhn setting out the civil rights and election law violations that took place in Florida in 2000 and 2001 to a majority of members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as to the staff director and general counsel, in anticipation of their hearing in Miami the following day.
6/24/02: Democrats.com co-founder Bob Fertik publishes an expose of the Bush 9-11 Photo Scandal, which documents the evidence that Bush ordered the shooting down of the Heroes on Flight 93, a moment that may have been captured in the photo Republicans are selling for $150. Right-wingers react viciously to this story, including a denunciation by Rush Limbaugh on 7/1/02 that results in dozens of hate-filled letters from his dittohead followers.
7/16/02: Democrats.com launches Bushgate to track all of Bush's many scandals as they move inevitably towards Bush's impeachment.
7/16/02: Democrats.com launches Petition to Say No to Government Spying on US Citizens through programs like Ashcroft's proposed Operation TIPS.
7/17/02: Democrats.com launches FairandBalancedBoxofChocolates.com to enable people to thank NBC for getting Phil Donahue back on the air by sending a special box of Leonidas chocolates to the president of NBC.
7/30/02: Democrats.com launches a Petition to Stop Bush's 'Wag the Dog' Invasion of Iraq, which collects nearly 8,000 signatures in one week.
8/2/02: Democrats.com creates Bush Pokey Scorecard after Bush promises to ""throw corporate criminals in the pokey, where they belong."" We're tracking how many of Bush's corporate cronies actually serve hard time in jail, because the proof is in the pokey!
9/11/02: In an incident we're calling Farrago North, Laura Dove of the National Republican Campaign Committee came upon the photo caption contest on our site that we ran last May, in which we invited users to send in their captions of the infamous photo of George W. Bush pretending to be in charge of the country during the attacks of 9/11. You'll recall that many months later the Republicans were widely criticized for using the photo as a fundraising tool, and they're obviously still pretty sensitive about it. We were in the midst of a campaign raising money for Senator Paul Wellstone, so the NRSC sent out a press release attacking Wellstone for permitting his advertisement to run on a site containing such ""vile"" content. [This is on the day when America was in mourning over our losses of a year earlier, and Vice President Dick Cheney observed this somber event with a mud slinging celebration on the Rush Limbaugh show.) The Minneapolis Star-Tribune was the only paper in the country to print the attack, then thought better of it, and finally printed our letter. Hey, we report, you decide, as the Republicans say.
9/12/02: Democrats.com organized one of the first anti-war protests when George W. Bush spoke to the United Nations.
9/25/02: Democrats.com co-founder Bob Fertik appears on Fox's O'Reilly show and addles the dishonest old spin hack by arguing that most Americans OPPOSE Bush's war when they understand the costs. Tell them how much it is going to cost in dollars and lives and the attack Iraq majority deflates like O'Reilly when confronted with facts.
9/26/02: The day after Fertik's visit to his show, O'Reilly smacks him again, like any bully making sure that the victim isn't able to offer up his own defense. Above all O'Reilly can't let Fertik's assertation that popular support for a war against someone who had nothing to do with the attacks against us is massively inflated.
9/27/02: In a Newsday profile, Bob Fertik gets in a few good licks about how bold and creative use of the Internet can harness and express the grassroots-based, popular appeal of the Democratic Party -- when the party genuinely puts its effort behind mobilizing public support.
11/15/02: Democrats.com launches the first Presidential Straw Poll for Democrats only. Al Gore won each poll until he formally announced that he would not run. John Kerry led briefly after that, but Howard Dean has led ever since.
2/15/03: Democrats.com organizes a rally in support of the Franco-German Peace Plan outside the German Consulate at the United Nations. Despite advance permission from the NYC police, the police prevented us from rallying at the last minute. So we joined up with the massive New York City protest that shut down the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
2/28/03: Democrats.com offers a $1,000 reward for convincing evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. This follows Bush's declaration that Iraq's destruction of its Al Samoud 2 missiles would not be sufficient to prevent war because they are just the ""tip of the iceberg."" Democrats.com's response: where's the iceberg?
1/30/04: Democrats.com launches MediaWatch (http://democrats.com/media), a brand-new campaign to challenge pro-Republican media bias. Media Watch has 3 goals: (1) document specific examples of anti-Democratic media bias (2) take direct, immediate action to challenge anti-Democratic bias (3) keep up the pressure to END anti-Democratic bias.
2/2/04: Democrats.com launches a grassroots impeachment campaign against George Bush at ImpeachCentral.com and ImpeachBush.Meetup.com. Within days, the ImpeachBush meetup has more participants than the Bush campaign meetup!
3/28/05: Democrats.com forms the DebtSlavery.org coalition to fight the "Debt Slavery" Bankruptcy Bill in the U.S. House. The coalition includes Progressive Democrats of America, AFL-CIO, The Nation, National Organization for Women, American Progress Action Fund, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, People's Email Network, Public Citizen, Democracy Week, Black Commentator, Thom Hartmann Show, Milwaukee Labor Press, Politology, Fly By News, Billionaires for Bush, Evans Media USA, Take Back America, United Progressives for Democracy, Rapid Response Network, Public Campaign Action Fund, Progressive Populist, ACORN, Drum Major Institute, Campaign for America's Future.
5/26/05: Democrats.com co-founds AfterDowningStreet.org to highlight the publication in Britain of the "Downing Street Memos." These memos, dated July 23, 2002 proved the Bush administration deliberately fixed the "intelligence and facts around the policy" of invading Iraq - a full 8 months before the invasion began. AfterDowningStreet.org formed a broad coalition to demand a Congressional investigation into whether President Bush committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. AfterDowningStreet.org worked closely with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) to hold hearings in the Capitol on 6/16/05, and to hold Town Hall meetings around the country on 7/23/05 and 1/6/06.
11/4/05: Democrats.com launches ImpeachPAC to raise money for Democratic candidates who support the immediate and simultaneous impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney for lying about Iraq.
5/6/10: We joined a broad coalition and delivered 50,000 petitions from our supporters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Break Up the Banks, but Wall Street lobbyists beat the Brown-Kaufman amendment by 61-33.