Terrible, self-destructive policies and nutty ideas just come in waves from the Biden administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress. The latest was the creation of a bureaucratic monstrosity under the Department of Homeland Security called a Disinformation Governance Board that would seek out and expose alleged falsehoods in print, broadcast and social media. A good place to start would have been Joe Biden’s public statements and the answers to journalists’ questions by his hapless former press secretary Jen Psaki.
Mercifully for the nation, the administration has suddenly backed off, with Psaki’s replacement Karen Jean-Pierre announcing at a press conference on May 18, that the DGB has been put on “pause;” let’s hope it’s forever. It’s even questionable that there was statutory authority for DHS to add this to its duties without congressional approval. When congressional Republicans pressed DHS Secretary Mayorkas about this project his answers to pointed questions were vague and unsatisfying. He failed to offer specific definitions for terms like ‘disinformation” and “misinformation,” or remedies that wouldn’t offend the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
In the 1942 classic movie, Casablanca, an iconic scene featured Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick being questioned by Claude Raines as Captain Renault.
Renault: “What in Heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?”
Rick: “My health. I came for the waters.
Renault: “The waters? What Waters? We’re in the desert.”
Rick: “I was misinformed.”
Rick knew Casablanca was in the desert. He had come for other reasons. He wasn’t misinformed. He was lying and, in the process, misinforming Renault.
The verb, “to misinform,” means to supply someone with false or misleading information. That could be inadvertent by one who’s mistaken, wishfully thinking, naive or ignorant. But if done knowingly with malice, that’s “disinformation.” People who disagree may honestly believe in conflicting “truths,” one or neither of which may be objectively true. (Abstract “postmodernists” believe there are no objective truths.)
You can see why this Disinformation Governance Board could be the devil’s workshop in what’s supposed to be a free society. Especially, after Nina Jankowicz was made the DGB executive director. Jankowicz is a radical left-wing, partisan Democrat (which is precisely why she was picked). Ironically, she’s on record dispensing disinformation, herself, about the Trump-Russia investigation and its connection to the Hillary Clinton election campaign, as well as about Hunter Biden’s incriminating laptop emails. Amidst a storm of protest, Jankowicz abruptly resigned from the post before she could even redecorate her DHS office.
Disinformation in geopolitics is a reality and a threat. To understand it’s nature, it helps to know the origin and context of the term. It’s the English transliteration of the Russian word, “dezinformatsiya,” a deceitful form of propaganda misinforming the public through the dissemination of information that is partially or totally false. It was established by the former Soviet Union in the Active Measures Department of its espionage agency, the KGB, and employed aggressively and internationally dating back to the 1950s. One example was the KGB planting of a lie that the AIDS virus was created in a laboratory by the U.S. and intentionally inflicted on the world.
Dezinformatsiya is now wielded by the FSB, Vladimir Putin’s hand-crafted successor to the KGB, and still very much in use. There’s good reason to counter Russian disinformation. As a matter of Spy vs. Spy, it’s a valid role for the CIA. But this Disinformation Governance Board was not the way to do it.
The DGB couldn’t be trusted under the Biden administration to limit its scope to foreign propaganda. The selection of Jankowicz as its head, was a dead giveaway. She’d have politically weaponized the DGB to attack Republicans and conservatives. Honest disagreement and criticism would be branded as disinformation.
The DGB was lampooned by its critics as a model of Big Brother’s Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s dystopian classic of totalitarian government, 1984. And the letters, DGB, are embarrassingly close to KGB.
Biden, himself, is this administration’s most prominent vehicle of disinformation. I say “vehicle” because, given his unfortunate failing state of mind, he appears to be just parroting the ill-advised, overblown rhetoric and bald-faced lies his staff writes for him on everything from inflation, to “white supremacy,” to Afghanistan, to women’s abortion rights, to Hunter Biden’s illicit international dealings. He’s now the disinformer-in-chief.
The best place to counter public disinformation would be by an objective free press. Unfortunately, The New York Times and most other bastions of so-called journalism and “fact-checking” in the dominant-liberal-mass-media have sold out to Democrat partisanship and progressive ideology.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.
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