When Mark Caldwell talks, the White House and much of Congress listens - not to mention over a quarter million people around the world.
The outspoken conservative from Lookout Mountain has an amazing following for his The Federalist Internet journal.
In a recent issue, The Federalist lambasted President Bill Clinton on issues ranging from his veto of the $792 billion tax cut bill to his stance on Puerto Rican clemency. It handed The New York Times its "Gender Disorientation Disorder Award" for sponsoring an event at the city's Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center.
Still, the Clinton staff is paying attention. Mr. Caldwell says there are 10 subscribers to The Federalist from the e-mail address of the White House. Mr. Caldwell says, The opposition is watching."
Two-thirds of the members of Congress and their senior staff are subscribers.
The Federalist describes itself as "a concise, highly acclaimed e-mail journal of anecdotal rebuttal to contemporary political, social, and media liberalism." It's "an advocate of individual, family and community governance, rights and responsibilities as espoused by our nation’s Founders, and as originally intended by our Republic’s Constitution as set forth in the Federalist Papers."
Mr. Caldwell, whose background is in political and national security consulting, began to seek a forum to utilize his interests and expertise to affect and influence policy through public opinion. He found the Internet to be the perfect tool.
He began writing on issues concerning public policy. From the beginning, his disdain for the mass media "taking the lead to dictate public opinion and therefore policy" was evident.
The Federalist advocates the principles of the Constitution with its timeless ideas, Mr. Caldwell says. Its origins are based on the original Federalist Papers, and a quote from Thomas Jefferson is on the masthead. That quote is: "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
Mr. Caldwell and two co-founders officially launched The Federalist in September 1997. He is the editor and publisher.
The writers for The Federalist are comprised from an editorial board, which brings varied professional and life experience to the publication. There are 20 members on the editorial board from around the country.
Readers will find no bylines in The Federalist. The editors believe their names should remain anonymous to readers.
Mr. Caldwell described his readers as conservative, activists, and thoroughly Internet savvy. The Federalist has a subscriber base of 250,000 people.
Most people arrive at reading The Federalist by means of three ways.
They may have been reading one of The Federalist’s sister organization publications - National Review, American Spectator, or Heritage Foundation.
Readers also may have seen a link to The Federalist at other conservative sites, or they may have received recommendations from other subscribers of The Federalist. The Federalist is truly Internet-based and reliant.
Mr. Caldwell strongly believes that the Internet offers the opportunity to de-sensitize the chokehold that the mass media has on public opinion. It makes sense that the Internet would be the vessel of choice to bring The Federalist to the people.
Mr. Caldwell said that it was a very in-depth task to determine what people would embrace in terms of a publication on conservative policy. The length, content, style, frequency, and several other details were of great importance to creating a successful publication.
Originally, the objective for The Federalist was to reach a subscriber base of 25,000 in the first three to five years of publishing. This goal was exceeded in the first year. Judging by readership, Mr. Caldwell has found much success.
According to Mr. Caldwell, there are truly so few ideas today that are really original anymore. Mr. Caldwell placed emphasis on the goal of The Federalist to be a commerce of ideas. Obviously the editorial board has to earn a living, but their mission is to find a balance between their efforts to promote conservative ideas and make money.
The Federalist is financed based on the goodwill donations of its readers. There is no advertising.
The Federalist editorials are re-published around the world. As long as acknowledgements are given to The Federalist, there is a firm policy to grant permission for re-publication. For instance, The Federalist is re-published in a South American monthly print publication with a circulation of three million.
The Federalist likes to focus on what is not being reported - the cutting edge news that most of us have missed.
Mr. Caldwell said “The collective bias of the media shines through based on what they print and don’t print. It’s about crimes of omission.”
Mr. Caldwell proclaimed that the Internet is the most pro democracy development since the American Revolution. He said, "There couldn’t be a better means to reach the people."
Mr. Caldwell used The Chattanoogan.com as an example of an independent publication. He said that with this independence came a free commerce of the expression of ideas that would not be possible with a publication that was controlled by a huge conglomerate.
He said that what The Chattanoogan.com was doing as a publication was an incredible exercise in the First Amendment to put public policy back in the hands of the people, where it belongs.
The Federalist is available free by e-mail in two parts- the Brief is distributed on Tuesdays and the Digest is distributed on Fridays. They publish 5,000 words once a week.
To subscribe or learn more about The Federalist, go to www.Federalist.com. All replies concerning the publication can be directed to Replies@Federalist.