The short-lived Disinformation Governance Board reminds us of Washington’s dangerous lack of control.
Official Portrait of Nina Jankowicz, Executive Director of Disinformation Governance Board (Public Domain
A long time ago in a country far, far different–the United States of America in October 1964, to be exact–as many as 77 percent of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing almost always or most of the time.
No, don’t get nostalgic. The American public was extremely gullible at this time.
The FBI was spying on Martin Luther King Jr. Congress just passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which authorized the most absurd war ever waged in American history under false pretenses. (Sorry, millennials: Vietnam, which left over 58,000 Americans dead thanks to our much-trusted government, was even dumber than Iraq, with 4,431 killed in action. )
Americans have an improved grasp of reality. Only 24 percent are so foolish as to trust the government to do the right thing at least most of the time.
This was not a favorable environment for the Biden Administration to attempt to set up a Disinformation Governance Board at the Department of Homeland Security. The backlash against the proposal was quick and DHS has “paused” it. It’s still a warning sign about how out-of-touch Washington can be.
In a polarized nation, the Federal Government is the most credible entity that can correct misinformation. Then again, the Biden administration lives in a partisan echo chamber; 68 percent of Democrats have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the media to report news fairly and accurately, compared to 11 percent of Republicans. These numbers clearly show that most of the media supports Democrats.
This is Nina Jankowicz, the person the Biden administration wanted to lead the disinformation board. In the weeks before the 2020 election, the New York Post reported on the damning contents, including evidence of corruption and worse, on a laptop abandoned by Hunter Biden. The story was ignored by other media, except for those who claimed, with no evidence, it was Russian disinformation. Facebook ruthlessly suppressed the story, and Twitter even suspended the Post‘s account.
Disinformation expert Jankowicz was completely onboard with Team Biden. In an interview with Associated Press, Jankowicz dismissed the laptop story and said that it was “a Trump campaign product.” Jankowicz also live-tweeted a presidential debate in which he again denigrated the laptop story. He repeated Joe Biden’s unsubstantiated claim of Russian disinformation.
Needless to say, the laptop and contents turned out to be genuine, as even the rabidly pro-Biden, anti-Trump Washington Post and New York Times safely acknowledged after the election. Only disinformation was spread by the Biden campaign.
In Joe Biden’s America, any talk point that doesn’t come from Democrat is considered disinformation. Why not create a government agency staffed with people who are influenced by its worldview, and allow it to make statements that contradict this view? Instructions are eagerly awaited by Twitter censors.
The idea of DHS housing an Orwellian Ministry of Truth is especially appealing, as DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas himself has been a source of misinformation regarding what’s happening at the southern border. Mayorkas, at a time of increased border patrol agents encounters with would-be illegal immigrants, lied to Congress that “We” had operational control over the border.
If he said “We do”, he actually meant “we don’t”.
If he meant “We do not”, he was exactly right.
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Don’t be alarmed, Mayorkas promised us that the board would only function as a small working group and wouldn’t have any influence over U.S. citizens. Here’s a thought experiment. Imagine the Trump administration trying to create such a board. From the New York Times to the halls of Congress, it would have been condemned–rightly–as an authoritarian crackdown on free speech and dissent.
We have good reason to be concerned about a “disinformation governance committee,” regardless of its proponent. It is not necessary to have “governance” over speech. It is necessary for government to safeguard it. This is the fundamental responsibility of American government as outlined in the First Amendment.
No one is disputing that online information contains false and misleading material. There are many claims made about everything from Covid vaccinations to election results, moon landings, and JFK’s assassination. In our world of ideas, there is a lot of error mixed with truth. This is the price of liberty.