March 1, 2019

The hapless RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel tried echoing her uncle's 2012 claim that private industry is responsible for the innovation that makes America great. Unfortunately for her she chose the one glaring example where the government was almost entirely responsible for the creation of an entirely new sector of the economy, and one that has changed how we all live: the Internet.

Source: Washington Post

On Thursday, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel echoed that 2012 Romney argument. Perhaps it’s genetic: Until President Trump reportedly asked her to excise it, McDaniel went by Ronna Romney McDaniel. Mitt is her uncle.

She was talking about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, jumping off from that discussion to contrast Democrats broadly with her own party. The tack McDaniel took is a now-common one, framing the differences between the two parties as capitalism vs. socialism.

“It’s going to be a choice,” McDaniel said. “Are we going to want capitalism? Look at all the great achievements of our country: flight, cars, the Internet. Sorry, Al Gore. The Internet. None of that came from government. It came from innovation. It came from the greatness of America.”

“So here’s the thing. The Internet very much did come from government, quite literally.”

Philip Bump outlines succinctly how the creation of the Internet came about:

But as Scientific American wrote in 2012, the Internet itself derived directly from government work. It began as ARPAnet — named for the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency. In 1972, ARPA became DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

ARPAnet was a network that at first, in 1969, ran only between Utah and three universities in California. Slowly, it built outward and by 1977 covered locations on both coasts. During that period, DARPA scientists Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn invented a protocol for carrying traffic over the Internet called TCP/IP, or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. If you’ve ever heard of an “IP address,” in essence you’re hearing about Cerf and Kahn’s work.

We’re cruising through this awfully quickly, but: About a decade later, engineer and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. He created a way that the Internet could be used to more easily share information by developing a language that more easily allowed for documents to link to one another. And, voilà.

ARPA was the government. DARPA was the government. Berners-Lee was working for CERN, a European agency. Oh, and he’s British.

Certainly there were innovations that stemmed from the private sector — many innovations, and important ones. But saying that the Internet didn’t come from government is simply wrong.


Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.