Nina Jankowicz, the self-proclaimed “Mary Poppins of Disinformation” who was up until recently supposed to become the chief of Joe Biden’s Orwellian and ominous Disinformation Governance Board, can’t seem to stop herself from stepping on rakes. She has complained, now that the Board has been “paused,” that the Board itself was a victim of “disinformation,” which casts into question how effective it could possibly have ever been, if Jankowicz couldn’t even manage to counter false statements about what it was supposed to be doing. On Monday, she made matters even worse by remarking off-handedly that the Board was meant to do something that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had said it would not be doing: countering “disinformation” not just from foreign sources, but from Americans.
Jankowicz fired back with a claim that Bier and Blum were — you guessed it — spreading disinformation: “The thread you’re citing—which you’ve removed the initial context to—is in reference to a paper about *hostile state disinfo.* You can disagree w/ my assessment that it affects domestic politics/discourse, but the strategy described in the paper is the work I’m referring to.” Blum, however, was having none of it, responding, “I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what ‘context’ means. Speaking of something being entrenched in domestic politics necessarily means combating domestic sources of disinformation, which is not what you were hired to do. Not to mention that by disabling replies to your tweets, you are preventing people from introducing any context that might show you are wrong or otherwise refute your claims, so please don’t lecture me on the best practices of informational discourse, Nina.”
To that, Jankowicz replied, “Nope, it doesn’t- Take a look at the recent work to prebunk [apparently she means pre-debunk] Russian narratives about Ukraine. It focused on raising awareness of the falsities coming out of the Kremlin so Americans wouldn’t buy into them. It worked. No ‘combating’ domestic sources anywhere in the mix.” But what if “domestic sources” had repeated these allegedly false narratives? What then?
Certainly the Disinformation Governance Board was going to spend all its time countering the lies of the evil Putin, and never, ever interfering with Americans or the freedom of speech at all. Or maybe Jankowicz offhandedly let slip that what Mayorkas had said about the Board’s scope wasn’t the whole story, and then hastily had to cover for what she had revealed. How can we ever know for sure? If only we had a Disinformation Governance Board to sort it all out for us! But in the meantime, Jankowicz’s longstanding taste for repeating genuine disinformation should lead us to regard her words with more than a little skepticism.