Democratic Underground

Seven Days Underground
Democratic Underground had its official launch on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2001. Much has happened since then. To mark the passing of our first week, we felt that our faithful visitors might like to read a
SLIGHTLY EMBELLISHED first-person account of the highs and lows of launching an underground political website. by Skinner

DAY 1 (SAT) - A GIFT FROM MSNBC
On Friday night, we were up until about 3:00am getting ready for the website's big Inaugural Day Launch. We were hoping to be in bed by midnight, but our intern — a young radical from one of the local community colleges — spilled paint all over our banner at around 11:30, and we had to start from scratch. EarlG thought the intern was trying to sniff the stuff, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were true (he kept mumbling something about how "acrylic lasts longer than this latex crap", but we weren't clear on the context). The rest of us are too old for that sort of thing, but we'll keep him around because he is the only one here that knows anything about programming perl. (Fortunately, he got the "Nuclear Button" script working by 10:00pm, before the can of paint arrived.)

On Saturday, we met at our makeshift "office" in Northwest DC sometime around 11:00am. We were supposed to meet at 9:30, but the intern overslept. He showed up with his own homemade "George W. Ass" sign, but we wouldn't let him bring it to the protests — Newshound thought it was "off message."

We got down to Pennsylvania avenue around noon, and were fortunate to claim a prime location right in front of the press bleachers. Protesters were confined to a few "designated protest areas," and it seemed strange to me that one of those spots would be right in front of the media. I guess the communications geniuses in the Bush camp didn't think of everything. The other protesters seemed to be a mishmash of left-wing types: Some dancing polar bears to protest oil drilling in ANWR; Some free-Mumia folks; Anti-death penalty activists; A pretty large contingent of Seattle-style anti-globalization college kids; and even a guy on stilts to protest, well, I don't know what he was protesting. Like us, lots of folks were protesting how Bush stole the election, but there were far fewer of us than I expected. A sizable chunk of the protesters I spoke with voted for Nader. I thought, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be out here freezing my ass off in the rain. But I digress.

While ostensibly there to protest, our real motivation for attending the event was to get our banner on television. (We have no money, and this was the cheapest national advertising campaign we could come up with.) The banner was eight feet long by 3 feet tall, white canvas, with the words "DemocraticUnderground.com" painted in big, black letters. With luck, some Good Democrats would see it on TV and stop by our website, which at this point was sitting unused on a server somewhere in Atlanta (I think).

Sometime between noon and 1:00, EarlG's cell phone rang. His wife yelled into his ear: "Stop shaking the banner!" She, and about a million other people, were watching us on MSNBC. A preliminary count turned up exactly four messages on our discussion board. The first one: "Nice f------ discussion board. There's nobody here." By the end of the day, there would be nearly a thousand posts.

Eventually Dubya's limo drove by our part of the parade route. It was going so fast that the secret service guys were in a full sprint. We decided to pack it up and go back to the office. The intern stayed behind to get some more of "that quality doobidge from the polar bears."

Back in the office around 5:00, we discovered our message boards had become a virtual food fight, and our inbox was bursting with messages like: Your the people who are whats wrong with this country. Why dont you go back to Rusia? [sic] Plus, we'd sent over 2,000 angry emails to conservatives using our innovative "Nuclear Button" one-click activism system.

Spent the evening patting ourselves on the back. That is, all of us except the intern, who spent the evening eating 3 loaves of Wonder bread.

Total page views by the end of today: 32,183
Hate email messages received today: at least 167

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