Last week the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced to Congress that the DHS had established a new working group whose purpose is to monitor foreign sources of disinformation that pose a threat to national security. And within minutes Republicans and Fox News pundits blasted the Disinformation Governance Board (an admittedly discomforting name) as an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” that would suppress free speech.
The predictably alarmist and fact-free response by the GOP and their own Ministry of Propaganda (aka Fox News) deliberately misrepresented the mission of the new group. Their response was, in fact, disinformation, although not the sort that this group would be involved with. For the record, the group’s purpose was accurately described in a report by the Associated Press:
“The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up an effort to counter disinformation coming from Russia as well as misleading information that human smugglers circulate to target migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border. […] DHS said in its statement that the board will ‘protect privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties’ as part of its duties.”
Clearly the role of this operation is focused on foreign sources of disinformation and has explicitly ruled out any activities that would infringe on anyone’s civil liberties. Donald Trump, however and as always, was undeterred by reality, He was also afraid of being left out of any opportunity to grasp at media attention over manufactured crises. So Trump unleashed his own hysterically over-the-top criticism saying that…
“Just revealed that the Biden administration, on top of all the other horrible things happening to our Country, will be putting a longtime political operative in charge of censoring Free Speech. They don’t go after Facebook, Instagram, China’s TikTok, or any of the others that are so unhinged, corrupt, or Radical Left. Our Fake News Media refuses to cover the facts as our Country spirals into Hell!”
Trump’s complaint was posted on his TRUTH Social twitter clone and reposted by a cult follower on Twitter. Presumably because he knows that such disinformation will be eagerly embraced there. So he’s comfortable slandering Nina Jankowicz, who will be heading the Disinfo Board.
Jankowicz has a distinguished record as a disinformation expert. Her resume on Wikipedia notes that she “was a Fulbright fellow in Kyiv, working with the foreign ministry of Ukraine. She has also served as a disinformation fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and as supervisor of the Russia and Belarus programs at the National Democratic Institute.”
White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked about Jankowicz in a decidedly loaded question by Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich. Psaki defended her noting that the Board she is heading was “a continuation of work that began at the Department of Homeland Security in 2020 under former President Trump.” She also reiterated that the Board has a mandate to protect privacy and civil rights.
WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki Asked About Nina Jankowicz & DHS's "Disinformation Governance Board" Amid Concerns That The Biden Administration Is Setting Up A "Ministry Of Truth"
WH Defends Nina & The Board pic.twitter.com/GqR3dsjaVP
— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) April 29, 2022
None of that, however, will prevent the disinformation disseminated by right-wing propagandists and professional liars like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who tweeted “Now that the Biden regime has a Ministry of Truth, what’s next?” Or Tulsi Gabbard who tweeted that “Biden is just a front man,” asserting that Barack Obama is behind all of this. She was parroting Tucker Carlson who recently ranted about a speech Obama gave that warned against the perils of disinformation.
It’s ironic that Republicans are so zealously opposed to the Biden administration working to counter disinformation, and falsely labeling it censorship. They are the ones who are actually passing laws to ban books, prohibit protesting, and roll back civil liberties. And they, along with their media accomplices, are the ones spreading so much disinformation about everything from COVID, to Russia, to immigration, to the economy, etc.
Perhaps the real reason they are so worried about this Disinfo Board is that they know that without disinformation they really have nothing to say.
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