Disinformation and Censorship

As Scott noted yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security has established a “Disinformation Governance Board” to combat misinformation ahead of the 2022 midterms. Administration spokespeople have widened the alleged portfolio of this group to include covid, election integrity, and much else. The announcement has been greeted with both outrage and ridicule.

In a press conference earlier today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took on the Disinformation Governance Board along with a broader indictment of the Biden administration. I think it is a good example of DeSantis’s skill at communication: he talks in a way that everyone can understand, and just about everyone will agree with. The relevant discussion starts at 1:26 and winds up at 6:30:

The Executive Director of Biden’s Misinformation Governance Board is one Nina Jankowicz, an avowed free speech opponent and herself a peddler of disinformation as, for example, the absurd claim that Hunter Biden’s business records were a Russian plant. She has been ridiculed on other grounds as well. For example, this performance, where she yearns to be “rich, famous and powerful.”

A particularly striking lyric by Ms. Jankowicz goes, “Who do I f***” to be “famous and powerful?” This was, in a way, prescient. Jankowicz has gone on the warpath against those who dare to criticize Kamala Harris. Denouncing those who have mocked Harris on social media, Jankowicz wrote:

There is much worse, alleging that Vice-President Harris slept her way to the top.

But that statement is true. It is not disputed that Harris was for years the very public illicit mistress of Willie Brown, California’s most powerful politician. Nor is it disputed that Brown greased Harris’s path as she rose in California politics, to the point where she became a U.S. senator without ever being seriously tested. This is why Harris ascended all the way to the vice presidency before it was widely noticed that she possesses no perceptible political skills.

Willie Brown, who knows his protege much better than the rest of us, publicly advised her not to accept the vice presidential nod. Given Joe Biden’s decrepitude, there is a fair chance that Kamala Harris will be President of the United States. Our country, and frankly the Democratic Party, would be better off if her qualifications had been more openly debated. But that is the sort of conversation that the Biden administration and its press and social media allies want to foreclose.

A final point: earlier today, the ridiculous Jen Psaki tried to defend the Disinformation Board on the ground that it was created during the Trump administration:

Psaki said the board’s efforts are part of “a continuation of work that began at the Department of Homeland Security in 2020, under former President Trump.”

Asked by Heinrich how Jankowicz can serve as an effective board leader based on prior comments, which include public support for the Democratic Party and dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story, Psaki reiterated that the work began under the prior administration.

“For anyone who’s critical of it, I didn’t hear them being critical of the work under the former president, which is interesting to note contextually,” Psaki said as she outlined a fact sheet released by the department that explains the board’s mission.

It would be fun to learn more about this. When during 2020 did the “work” of DHS begin? What exactly was that “work,” of which the current bureau is a “continuation”? Did Trump ever hear about it, whatever it was? Did the Trump administration ever appoint an Executive Director of a Disinformation Governance Board? (No.)

Can you imagine the response from the Democratic Party press if President Trump had announced a Disinformation Governance Board to censor views that dissented from his administration’s policies on illegal immigration, trade, and so on? No, really, I don’t think we can imagine it.

The Biden administration is so bad that it is tempting, from day to day, to think that it can’t possibly get worse. The establishment of the Disinformation Governance Board and the appointment of Nina Jankowicz to run it are evidence that, however bad things seem, they can indeed get worse. And probably will.

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