Patterico's Pontifications

5/18/2022

Abject Failure: White House Disinformation Panel Likely to be Scrapped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:03 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Here is thus far the best political news of the week:

After a wave of backlash, the Department of Homeland Security is considering shutting down its just-created Disinformation Governance Board, which was officially tasked with combatting false narratives around domestic terrorism and human trafficking along the border, but which was widely interpreted as having a much broader brief to monitor and possibly curtail disfavored political speech.

Just three weeks after its inception, the disinformation board’s operations have been “paused,” multiple anonymous DHS officials told the Washington Post. DHS reportedly decided to shut down the board entirely on Monday and its director, Nina Jankowicz, tendered a voluntary resignation letter on Tuesday. But DHS officials quickly called Jankowicz to give her the option to stay on while the Homeland Security Advisory Committee determines whether to shut down the board entirely.

Beyond the potential for Orwellian behavior from a government board tasked with determining what is legitimate political opinion and what comprises “disinformation,” the selection of Ms. Jankowicz as director was a completely avoidable error that the White House nevertheless blundered straight into. A fellow (but not a fella) at the Wilson Center, an ostensibly nonpartisan research center but one which receives almost a third of its funding from the taxpayer, and an alleged expert on Russia and Ukraine, Ms. Jankowicz has also distinguished herself for her insider dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop story, her weird feminist musings which require her to concoct largely implausible scenarios of male boorishness to make her points, and her curious penchant for making up really weird songs and sharing them with the public.

The collapse of this ill-considered initiative has naturally disappointed the Biden Administration’s amen corner in the media, with the increasingly-shrill Taylor Lorenz of the Washington Post taking to her keyboard to huff about the unfairness of it all:

[W]ithin hours of news of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the very forces she dedicated her career to combating. The board itself and DHS received criticism for both its somewhat ominous name and scant details of specific mission (Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it “could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn’t”), but Jankowicz was on the receiving end of the harshest attacks, with her role mischaracterized as she became a primary target on the right-wing Internet. She has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.

[. . .]

Jankowicz’s experience is 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. It also shows what happens when institutions, when confronted with these attacks, don’t respond effectively.

Odd that Ms. Lorenz never bothers to cogitate on why Ms. Jankowicz, with her background in what Ms. Lorenz characterizes as “multiple nonpartisan think tanks and nonprofits,” would have drawn particular ire from “far-right influencers.” Could it be because Ms. Jankowicz’s online presence indicated nothing so much as a committed Democrat who viewed her mission as promoting the conventional center-left Washington wisdom, no matter how staid and fetid it has become? It’s not as if Bidenism, a less confident and thus more malleable version of the smug assuredness of Obamaism, has distinguished itself at all over the past sixteen months.

Ms. Lorenz argues that the board which Ms. Jankowicz was appointed to lead would have had no authority to declare any news stories as “true” or “false” and would have no regulatory power to threaten ISPs or media outlets, yet it’s a certainty that the board would exert an influence similar to that of a Politifact or any of the other gate-keepers who get to determine why a mostly true claim from a conservative source is wrong about some picayune item while a mostly incorrect claim from a progressive source has yet to be disproven. Since when has a Washington DC board hewed strictly to its mandate and not instead attempted to increase its reach well beyond its charter?

In any case, we are left to hope that this “pause” is actually the death-knell for the Biden Administration’s “disinformation governance board.” Like so much of what this Administration has proposed, it’s an idea that might sound vaguely practical in theory — at least to the media/academic/bureaucratic axis that runs the Democrat Party these days — but is so clearly open to manipulation and abuse that any thinking American who prizes personal liberties and a humble role for government would immediate recognize as a colossally bad idea.

ADDENDUM: I see that over at Powerline Steve Hayward points out a few more peculiarities in the WaPo’s coverage that I overlooked, like the standard reliance upon unnamed “experts” and the typical headline which announces what the paper really thinks about all of this. Indeed, as with most Taylor Lorenz pieces there is no shortage of elements to criticize.

– JVW

16 Responses to “Abject Failure: White House Disinformation Panel Likely to be Scrapped”

  1. So… “Mary Poppins” Jankowicz quits; Biden ‘Disinformation Board’ put “on pause.”

    ‘The pause that refreshes.’ – Coca-Cola, 1929

    “Sacked? Certainly not. I am never sacked!” – Mary Poppins [Julie Andrews] ‘Mary Poppins’ 1964

    DCSCA (77c3a5)

  2. This was a mind-numbingly dumb idea by the administration and every American should always be wary of such government overreach and potential censorship – by blue-checked Twitter users, no less. This is not a serious group of people. And the fact that the WaPo had Taylor Lorenz, of all people, do the write-up on the change in plans only serves to confirm the unseriousness of so many.

    Dana (2c7c1d)

  3. Nina Jankowicz, tendered a voluntary resignation letter on Tuesday. But DHS officials quickly called Jankowicz to give her the option to stay on while the Homeland Security Advisory Committee determines whether to shut down the board entirely.

    For some reason, that reminded me of the apocryphal Hollywood starlet’s plaintive wail: “Who do you have to sleep with to get out of this movie?”

    nk (e2bf20)

  4. Well, good. Nothing more needs to be said.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  5. ‘but Jankowicz was on the receiving end of the harshest attacks, with her role mischaracterized as she became a primary target on the right-wing Internet. She has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral.[. . .] Jankowicz’s experience is 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…’

    OFGS.

    How can you not laugh at this desperate reach for rationalization? Her credibility on everything imploded the minute her ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ video went viral. Hell, a mere scream of campaign victory excitement sank Howard Dean’s presidential bid and Pierre Delecto’s daddy, George Romney, effort cratered when he declared, “When I came back from Vietnam, I’d just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get.”

    Remember when this was the pitch- 18 months ago?!?!—- “The adults are back in charge, and the American people are about to be reminded of what it’s like to have a competent government working for them.”

    Oh Ms. Jankowicz, a dinner theater in Scranton called and left a message: they’re looking for a lead in a stage production of ‘Mary Poppins’ and would like you to audition.

    DCSCA (77c3a5)

  6. DCCCP is worried about someone else’s credibility?

    It should warn us before saying things like that, because some people eat while reading comments.

    Jim Miller (406a93)

  7. OT- 53 years ago today; May 18, 1969 – when America was truly great- and threw Charlie Brown and Snoopy at the moon atop a fiery, 36 story building: Man’s second trip to the moon:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=610MIiMdlBA

    One of the ‘forgotten Apollos,’ but critical to the success to come two months later with Apollo 11.

    John Young, Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan were the crew. Met the late Cernan a few times over the years; he guested a radio show with me for an hour back in the late 70s. It was Apollo 10 that worked out the final systems bugs and filmed the approach and landing area for Apollo 11; televised the first superb color television images of the Earth and the moon back to Earth– and famously caught Cernan all too humanly swearing on hot mike when a wild gyration occurred during the LM separation sequence due to an out of place switch at sep.

    Ol’Geno was a really good egg and loved talking about his spaceflights, his Saturn V rides and efforting to inspire the young about the wonders and promise of manned spaceflight.

    Ad Astra, Gene.

    DCSCA (77c3a5)

  8. @6. Meh. Grown-ups are talking, Jimbo; Finish your peas; drink your milk and then you can have dessert and be excused from the table to get ready for bed. 😉

    DCSCA (77c3a5)

  9. Fellas, let’s forego the sniping at each other tonight, OK?

    JVW (020d31)

  10. @9. Agree. In my jammies; no snipe hunting tonight. ;-).

    DCSCA (77c3a5)

  11. Over at Reason, Robbie Soave calls the article by Ms. Lorenz a “wildly one-sided account of Jankowicz’s fall” and “an exercise in government PR,” as if “it was ghostwritten by Jankowicz herself.”

    JVW (020d31)

  12. This is why the democratic left base of the party thinks biden is a senile old fool and view the clinton corporate wing of the party with contempt. The clintonistas who got him the nomination with help from their friends in the media are worried about actual information so they can call it disinformation like hunter biden’s laptop. Right wing propaganda has little effect on the left like AOC ;but corporate grifters like the bidens, clintons and pelosi are vulnerable as the base except for older mostly white professional women and lobbying groups views them with suspicion to begin with.

    asset (bedb8a)

  13. Rinos are the leader in the clubhouse for promoting disinformation.

    mg (8cbc69)

  14. 81 million – more votes than worth counting – sarc

    EPWJ (ded958)

  15. 74,216,154 votes! For a guy who only got 14,015,993 votes in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, and only 62,984,828 in the election running against Hillary. Against Hillary!

    Yeah, right! Trump got 11,231,326 more votes running against Biden than he got running against Hillary? What kind of a naif schmendrick believes that?

    The corrupt, orange, criminal weasel has cheated and weaseled all his life, he holds the record for most lawsuits in the United States, and he still cannot get it right!

    nk (e2bf20)

  16. @14/15 Those numbers are meaningless in are electoral college system of electing presidents. The numbers that count: 2016 for trump mi. 10,000, pa. 43,000, wi. 22,000. 2020 for biden az. 10,000, ga. 13,000 wi. 20,000. Biden won presidential election by 43,000 votes and only because democrat party using laws republican party put in place to keep libertarian party off ballot in those states to keep green party off ballot in 2020 unlike 2016. In 2016 trump wins mi. by 10,000 votes jill stein green party 50,000 votes. Pa trump wins by 43,000 votes jill stein 50,000 votes. wi. trump wins by 22,000 votes jill stein 36,000 votes. this is how close it really was and why in 2024 we could have civil war.

    asset (53b224)


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