It’s only been three weeks since its creation and already the Biden administration’s ill-fated censorship bureau, the “Disinformation Governance Board,” is on the rocks.
What are the details?
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security had officially “paused” the board following days of dramatic back-and-forth talks about its future.
On Monday, the DHS had reportedly determined to shut down the board permanently. But apparently, its supporters curried enough favor to keep the project on life support, pending review — perhaps only to avoid the embarrassment of it collapsing even quicker than CNN+.
In all likelihood, the maligned panel will not continue. But even if it does, it will go on without its infamous first director, “disinformation expert” Nina Jankowicz.
Jankowicz officially submitted her resignation from the panel Tuesday, saying in a statement, “With the board’s work paused and its future uncertain … I have decided to leave DHS to return to my work in the public sphere.
“It is deeply disappointing that mischaracterizations of the board became a distraction from the department’s vital work, and indeed, along with recent events globally and nationally, embodies why it is necessary. I maintain my commitment to building awareness of disinformation’s threats and trust the Department will do the same,” she added.
— Dustin Volz (@Dustin Volz)
What’s the background?
The board had been the subject of scrutiny and ridicule for weeks since its launch as critics from across the political spectrum called it Stalinesque and compared it to the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s classic novel “1984.”
It had been launched with the stated aim of “countering misinformation related to homeland security, focused specifically on irregular migration and Russia.” Though many quickly saw the scheme for what it really was: a panel of left-wing elites empowered to determine what is and what is not truthful.
Jankowicz’s own background added fuel to the fire. The so-called “expert” on Russian misinformation readily disseminated Trump-Russia collusion talking points from the later debunked Christopher Steele dossier in 2016. Then in 2020, she echoed baseless claims that Hunter Biden’s laptop was part of a Russian disinformation campaign, even calling it a “Trump campaign product.”
Most recently, Jankowicz said she “shudder[s] to think about” the consequences of “free speech absolutists … taking over more platforms.”
And, of course, if the nail weren’t in the coffin already, a cringy video of Jankowicz singing an altered version of the lyrics to the “Mary Poppins” song, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” went viral online, garnering overwhelmingly negative backlash.
“Information laundering is really quite ferocious. It’s when a huckster takes some lies and makes them sound precocious. By saying them in Congress or a mainstream outlet, so disinformation’s origins are slightly less atrocious,” she sings in the parody song, adding,
“You can just call me the Mary Poppins of disinformation,” Jankowicz wrote in the caption to the February 2021 Twitter post.
— Nina Jankowicz ud83cuddfaud83cudde6ud83cuddfaud83cuddf8 (@Nina Jankowicz ud83cuddfaud83cudde6ud83cuddfaud83cuddf8)
In reporting on the panel’s demise, Washington Post columnist (doxxer) Taylor Lorenz lamented Jankowicz’s experience as “a prime example of how the right-wing Internet apparatus operates, where far-right influencers attempt to identify a target, present a narrative, and then repeat mischaracterizations across social media and websites with the aim of discrediting and attacking anyone who seeks to challenge them.”
But that assessment is hard to take seriously since both Jankowicz’s and the disinformation board’s unraveling stemmed entirely from problems they created.
Republicans, rather than lamenting the news, celebrated it online.
The House Judiciary GOP quipped, “CNN+ lasted longer than Joe Biden’s ‘Disinformation Board.'”
The Washington Examiner’s Seth Mandel joined in on the fun too, joking, “Ending Jankowicz’s board is the biggest step any administration has taken in combating disinformation, time to give Biden his props here.”