News broke this week that Nina Jankowicz, President Joe Biden’s former pick to be the federal government’s disinformation czar, had been hired as a lobbyist for a London-based nonprofit.
The group Jankowicz works for seeks to fight “human rights abuses and combating online harms against women and minorities,” a press release said.
And it turns out that the government agency Biden picked Jankowicz to lead was also back in the news.
Earlier this week, a handful of Republican senators, led by Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, questioned Biden about the revival of the Disinformation Governance Board, although under a different name and in a different form.
In a letter to Biden, the senators expressed “grave concern” that the administration sought to “collude” with Big Tech “to censor Americans’ speech under the guise of ‘misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.’”
The Republicans accused Biden of pursuing an “end-run” around the First Amendment through “backdoor channels” with tech firms, “without regard for Americans’ civil liberties.”
“It is not, and should not be, the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or any government agency, to be the final arbiters of what speech can be deemed true or acceptable,” they wrote. Yet, “It is clear that this has been a coordinated effort throughout your administration.”
In the news: Thanksgiving Day Mass Casualty Event Averted In Florida When Police Stop “Reckless” Woman
The senators then revisited the brief and ugly history of Biden’s “1984”-style Disinformation Governance Board that Jankowicz was selected to lead. As The Free Press reported earlier this year, under pressure from conservatives and free speech activists, Jankowicz resigned less than a month after its existence became known. The idea was formally dissolved in August.
Yet, the senators noted, “instead of heeding extensive criticism of the board, it appears efforts to censor Americans’ speech have only been driven further underground, where the censorship campaign has continued free from public scrutiny and without transparency.”
Actually, they added, “the censorship operation actually expanded to other agencies, including at the newly minted ‘Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation’ team within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), whose mission is to ‘counter all types of disinformation, [and] to be responsive to current events.’”
To get his way in controlling speech, Biden has “systematically and improperly pressured” Big Tech to control the flow of content that government bureaucrats find “problematic.”
The letter pointed out that, despite the administration’s past “missteps,” a CISA advisory committee released a report in June that required CISA to monitor “‘social media platforms of all sizes, mainstream media, cable news, hyper partisan media, talk radio and other online resources’ to prevent the ‘spread of false and misleading information.’”
The “censorship campaign” has now spread to other agencies, even though Congress has not authorized it.
“When the federal government colludes with social media platforms behind closed doors to censor Americans’ speech, it sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be easily undone,” the senators wrote. “Without transparency, authoritarians masquerading as elected officials will continue their campaign of pressuring social media platforms to censor content that is not government approved, chilling free speech and causing irreparable damage to democratic institutions in the process.”
In the news: US Bans Tech To Prevent China From Spying On Military Sites
The lawmakers then asked Biden to cite his legal authority for classifying speech as “misinformation, disinformation, or malinformation.” They also want to know if the administration “communicated, coordinated, or worked with any social media platform to target, flag, or remove domestically-generated content related to the recent midterm election, including if such content “specifically lacks a nexus to foreign interference efforts,” and how frequently it has happened.
Lastly, they demand Biden share whether DHS or any other government agency plans to target supposedly “inaccurate information” about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice, the Afghanistan withdrawal, or the war in Ukraine.
Besides Cruz and Rubio, the letter was signed by Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Mike Crapo, and Jim Risch of Idaho.