A federal speech czar? It is exactly as the Founding Fathers imagined it.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, told Congress earlier this week that his agency has created a “Disinformation Governance board” to counter “misinformation” from Russia in the lead up to this year’s midterm elections. Nina Jankowicz will lead the new Committee on Public Information under the Biden administration. She is a “disinformation fellow” and comes to this administration from a Woodrow Wilson think tank. Mayorkas is a source of untruths like Wilson. He does not specify under which constitutional power he intends to supervise speech.
Although it is tedious to keep this in mind, you can easily imagine the nuclear meltdown that the country would experience if a Republican president created a government panel to address “disinformation.” This is not Europe, where the state has the power to dictate what speech is allowed and can sometimes arrest those who do not comply. Citizens are the ones calling out the state for spreading misinformation and not the other.
Barack Obama is now a member of the pro-censorship Left. This is to say that it includes most contemporary Democrats. The former neoliberal champion for free speech, which he used aggressively to mislead American citizens when it served his political interests, claimed that misinformation is “killing people” during a Stanford University speech. You know that censorship can save one person’s life.
These arbiters of truth are not only some of the same people that ran around repeating absurd conspiracies regarding foreign interference for five years; they’re also some of the same people that used the threat of “Russian Disinformation” to suppress news that could hurt their electoral prospects, such as the Hunter Biden laptop story. You’ll be shocked to know that this crew also includes Czarina Jankowicz.
Even allowing for such cynical use of “disinformation,” can we really believe that an administration telling us straight face that a $3.5 trillion spending bill is “cost zero dollars”, that showing ID is tantamount to Jim Crow 2.0, or that your sex depends entirely on your perception is going be able to determine the accuracy of rhetoric? Jankowicz was employed by a man who has been one of our most entertaining fabulists for 50 years.
Tech companies don’t offer unencumbered rights of free association. They are vulnerable to threats and intimidation from the state and spend millions of dollars each year on Washington rent-seeking and lobbying for favorable regulation. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told the media that Facebook was “flagging problematic postings that spread disinformation.” Kate Bedingfield, the White House Communications Director, was also arguing that social media companies should be held responsible for the ideas and actions of users who use them. Or U.S. Or U.S. The government’s conspiracy theory may be plausible. This is evident when Facebook banned stories about the Chinese origins of COVID.
Although it is dangerous for freedom to have the state put an imprimatur on truth, it is laughable in practice. Jankowicz is completely inept at the job of judging truth. Jankowicz is not better than any leftist partisan on CNN, from treating the Steele dossier (Russian false information) as fact to repeatedly dismissing the Hunter Biden story in disinformation as a “Kremlin concoction.
But, truth is not what this is all about. It is better to let lies seep into the information stream rather than for a panel of nomenklatura or other people to dictate the truth of what we hear and read. It is authoritarian. The second reason is that those who accept the job are not trustworthy.