The Biden administration didn’t create a Ministry of Truth. We don’t have governmental ministries here in the United States. That’s a British thing. We have departments and boards.
The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it’s putting a “pause” on its new Disinformation Governance Board. The new agency, announced in April, was to operate under the Department of Homeland Security and would be tasked with “countering misinformation related to homeland security, focused specifically on irregular migration and Russia.”
The administration was unclear about what the role and scope of the disinformation board would be. Would, for example, having the “wrong” opinion soon be considered a national security threat worthy of censorship?
The one thing that’s clear is that the new board and the person tasked to lead it weren’t, as they say in Washington, “good optics.”
It was bad enough that the Biden administration seemingly took George Orwell’s book “1984” as a guide, rather than as a warning. It then made things worse with the appointment of Nina Jankowicz, the self-proclaimed “Mary Poppins of disinformation,” to lead the board.
The new—and now former, since she has resigned—disinformation czarina certainly appeared to be a real expert in “disinformation.”
She cast doubt on the veracity of the Hunter Biden laptop story, which was confirmed to be true. She dismissed the idea that COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, as nothing more than a way to give then-President Donald Trump a scapegoat for the pandemic. Clearly, there’s a good reason to believe that story, even if China makes finding the truth difficult, if not impossible.
In addition, Jankowicz backed since-debunked claims that Trump was connected to a Kremlin-backed bank.
What’s more, she has an extensive public record of seeing any story that counters left-wing narratives or makes Democrats in general look bad as examples of disinformation.
For instance, speaking at an event in Ohio, she said that opposition to critical race theory is just being “seized” upon by “Republicans and other disinformers” for profit.
Jankowicz’s solution to any such problem always seems to end up being censorship by people like herself, who naturally are always on the side of goodness and truth.
True to form, Jankowicz “shuddered” at the thought of Twitter becoming a more pro-free speech platform.
Jankowicz warned about social media companies allowing on their platforms “maligned creativity,” which she said had become “sexist” and “transphobic.”
Mean memes are apparently in need of censorship. And don’t you dare mock those of us in power.
Jankowicz also said in a recent Zoom chat that “verified” Twitter users—who are, of course, always known for their good sense and truthiness—should have the ability to edit other people’s tweets. She also said some people should be unverified because “they’re not trustworthy.”
Which raises the question: Who is trustworthy?
No doubt it will be Democratic Party activists and the Big Tech overlords who work with them.
Unsurprisingly, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki had said that the new disinformation board would be “nonpartisan” and “apolitical.”
It’s clear that the disinformation czarina who wasn’t thinks that anything contradicting left-wing groupthink must be false. That’s what the larger war on “misinformation” has ultimately been about. Democrats—now the party of insiders, agencies, and institutions—want to exert their monopolistic institutional power to ensure that all public forums are college campus-style liberal safe spaces.
Dissent—to the extent it is allowed to exist—is to be controlled and managed.
If any “conspiracy theories” deemed misinformation turn out to be true then, well, “mistakes were made.” There will be no mea culpas, no reckoning. The news cycle is expected to just move along.
What we have in America today is a full-blown and obvious attack on the culture of free speech. This effort is becoming so brazen that even some people traditionally on the left are noticing and expressing concern.
HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher said the Disinformation Governance Board had a “creepy name” and noted that the opaque mission of the agency was “even creepier.”
“Yes, they’re right to compare this to Orwell and the ‘Ministry of Truth,’” he said. “That’s exactly what it sounds like.”
Maher pointed to the main problem with the disinformation board, which is that the “government should not be involved in deciding what’s true or not true.”
He went even further: “This idea that we can clean up Twitter and protect you from fake news and disinformation—it’s so ridiculous. People always lie. That’s what people do. Every age is the misinformation age.”
Maher is correct.
“Fake news” is endemic to human civilization. Whether in a free or authoritarian society, we must grapple with the fact that you can’t believe everything you hear.
The disinformation board isn’t just an example of bad optics. It’s even worse governance.
As I wrote back in 2016, the concept of a government agency dedicated to sorting out what is true or false runs counter to the American tradition.
The Founding Fathers sought to create a system that would foster self-government and protect citizens from arbitrary power. We the people must ultimately be responsible for finding the truth in the world. No matter the era, lies abound. Fake news will always be with us.
That’s why the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech through the First Amendment, which was created when most European governments had bureaus of censorship.
Even in the case of issues like libel and slander, we have courts and juries of one’s peers, not arbitrary government boards, that ascertain the truth of the matter.
Free speech and trials by jury. That’s the American way.
When we cede the power to determine truth from falsehood to government boards and rulers, we are ultimately ceding the liberties and duties of citizenship. Societies where information is tightly controlled by the government in this way are not only less free, they are ultimately more susceptible to revolution.
People under tightly controlled systems are unable to determine for themselves truth from fiction. Governments—used to being able to control information—lie and manipulate to protect the power of rulers. Eventually, a system built on lies will fail or reach a breaking point.
The new disinformation agency and its czarina were indeed “creepy.” Let’s hope a similar board doesn’t come back under a more innocuous-sounding name and subtler leader.
The very idea of an American-style Ministry of Truth—regardless of what it is called—has no place in our constitutional republic. Most Americans still get that.
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