Here’s a welcomed follow-up to my May 13 column, “Orwell tried to warn us”:
The Department of Homeland Security’s planned Disinformation Governance Board has been “paused” and Nina Jankowicz, who had dubbed herself “the Mary Poppins of disinformation,” has resigned.
As soon as the formation of this board was announced, it drew comparisons to the Ministry of Truth from “1984,” George Orwell’s book that warns against all-powerful government.
After the new board’s demise, Homeland Security said the board had been “grossly and intentionally mischaracterized: it was never about censorship or policing speech in any manner.”
In response, the Wall Street Journal weighed in with an editorial, saying, “Even if this is true, a board that sounds like a government fact-checker was a lousy idea sure to feed public mistrust.”
The Journal reviewed a couple of Ms. Jankowicz’s earlier declarations:
“She also tweeted that she hoped ‘the adtech industry stops placing ads for masks and worse (straight up disinfo!) … on articles and info about coronavirus.’ That was in March 2020 when masks were dismissed, shortly before they were required. She said Hunter Biden’s laptop should be seen ‘as a Trump campaign product.’ In 2016 she tweeted this conspiracy theory: ‘Trump had not one, but two secret email servers to communicate w/influential Russian bank. Unbelievable.’ Disinformation doctor, refute thyself.”
Hence, the Journal pointed to a fundamental problem with overseeing speech: Last week’s “straight up disinfo” is this week’s accepted truth.
With few exceptions — threats, slander, libel — speech must remain free of government influence.
After her resignation, Ms. Jankowicz said this to National Public Radio (coincidentally, a government news outlet): “I’m coming out of this experience pretty pessimistic. But I’m still committed to the work, because I don’t want my son to grow up in a world where you can’t tell truth from fiction and where you can’t trust anything anybody says.”
Her words reveal a deep misunderstanding about the nature of information. Since the beginning of time, people have had to use their own judgment about what they hear and read. Mankind has never needed — and has certainly never benefitted from — government trying to tell us what is true and what isn’t.
Officially, the Disinformation Governance Board is on pause for 75 days. Let’s hope its demise is permanent.
• • •
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, D, is the May Porker of the Month.
Citizens Against Government Waste singled out Hochul “for forcing New York taxpayers to pay for a new Buffalo Bills stadium.”
“She is blindsiding New York taxpayers with an $850 million bill for a new Bills stadium that won’t even be located in Buffalo,” CAGW reported. “The Bills are worth $2.27 billion and their billionaire owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, will only kick in $550 million of the $1.4 billion cost for the new stadium.”
Said CAGW President Tom Schatz, “Taxpayer-funded stadiums have a long history of becoming financial boondoggles and the proposed Buffalo stadium would likely be worse than most. … Gov. Hochul is guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct with her extravagant plan.”
Contact Bart Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.