The New Disinformationists

The Biden Administration feels that it must now use federal resources to attack “disinformation.” So the Department of Homeland Security recently announced the creation of a “disinformation governance board.”

The board’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, at least has clear qualifications for the post. She previously had spread false rumors on social media that Donald Trump voters would show up at the polls in 2020 armed, and joined the mob’s chorus that Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation.” Perhaps the idea behind her hiring was “it takes one to know one.”

Although the new board’s mandate is unclear, the idea seems to be that Jankowicz and her colleagues will use the federal government’s powers to adjudicate what Americans say as either true or false—and to suppress as “disinformation” anything it doesn’t find useful.

The new war against “disinformation” follows the narratives of the “insurrection” on January 6, the “democracy dies in darkness” return of Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin as a mastermind gasoline price-spiker. Such narratives are intended to distract us from the Biden disaster and the ongoing assault against constitutional freedom. 

When things turn south for the administration, Barack Obama—a sagging Netflix’s $50-million “idea man”—usually emerges from one of his three mansions in Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, or Kalorama to lecture clingers and deplorables on various threats they pose to the anointed. 

His sermons usually project his own transgressions. Recently, Obama went to Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, to admonish us that new free speech platforms might tolerate incorrect expression that he and the Left smear as “hate speech.” 

But is not Barack Obama ill-suited to lecture anyone on disinformation? Do we remember his Obamacare version of disinformation: “You can keep your doctor; you can keep your plan”? Do we recall “shovel-ready jobs”?

Obama was caught secretly promising Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev that the United States would deal away missile defense in Eastern Europe for Vladimir Putin’s good behavior (“but it’s important for him to give me space”) during his 2012 reelection bid. Was this transparency or another example of how, but for a hot mic, “democracy dies in darkness”? Could Eastern Europeans have used such a discarded anti-missile system today?

Who employed the misinformationist Christopher Steele to slander presidential candidate Donald Trump? Was it James Comey’s FBI? Or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Or the Democratic National Committee? Or the Perkins Coie legal firm? Or Fusion GPS? Or all combined? And which president was briefed regularly on his administration’s disinformation war against Trump?

For that matter, which media company banned any coverage of the Hunter Biden laptop story? Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post? Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook? Jack Dorsey’s Twitter? 

Or all of them?

Projection is a left-wing trademark. What it accuses in others reveals what it seeks to hide within itself. So when we hear Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announcing this war on disinformation, we suspect he is our master disinformationist. Is it not his agency that is airlifting illegal aliens in the dead of night to regional airports rather than transparently, in the light of day? Is that “disinformation dies in darkness”?

What happened to the Biden Administration’s furious charges that the mounted border patrol was “whipping” innocent illegal aliens? When a federal investigation cleared the accused, did Mayorkas correct his own administration’s disinformation and apologize?

Who should we expect next to lecture the nation on the dangers of “disinformation”? A paroled and once-leftist heartthrob Michael Avanetti? Joe Biden himself on his own supposed ignorance of Hunter’s cronies? CNN and MSNBC on Hunter Biden’s “Russian disinformation” laptop? 

Will Anthony Fauci weigh in on the nonexistence of federal funding for gain-of-function research at Wuhan? Will Robert Mueller reemerge to restate yet again that he never knew anything of the Steele dossier? Will James Comey go back under oath to claim another 245 times he cannot remember? Will John Brennan lie a third time under oath before Congress, James Clapper a second time, or Andrew McCabe mislead a fourth federal investigator? 

What about those 51 former intelligence officials who convinced voters before the election that Hunter’s laptop was “Russian disinformation”? Would Nina Jankowicz rule their letter of expertise “information,” “misinformation,” or “disinformation”? 

Or perhaps we could hear warnings of organized misinformation from those blue-chip “17 Nobel Prize-winning economists” who vouched in a letter that Biden’s massive “Build Back Better” plan would not contribute to inflation that was indeed already ignited and beginning to blow up the economy?

Perhaps ex-felon and FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith could serve on the disinformation board, considering his keen eye for altered federal documents that advance false narratives. Hillary Clinton would also be a good candidate given her expertise in hiring sleuths like Michael Sussman to conjure phony Alfa-Bank stories?

So what are the catalysts for this sudden assault on free speech? Why is the Left now so worried after holding all the reins of power for 15 months? Why their embarrassing new Nineteen Eighty-Four-like Ministry of Information and Truth? And again, why now?

First, the looming midterms well may see the greatest repudiation of leftwing politics in the last 100 years. Rarely do hardcore leftists gain the reins of the Senate, House, and presidency. And more rarely are the Democrats foolish enough to go full socialist and emulate failed statist regimes abroad. And yet they have now done both—and have managed to alienate much of the country. 

Rarest of all is to have both a president and vice president who are force multipliers of the disasters that ensue from their policies. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are no JFK, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. Instead, they make Jimmy Carter seem Ciceronian in comparison. 

The one cognitively diminished, the other blindly confident in her puerile ignorance, only add to the public anger over their disastrous 15 months. Surging crime, a nonexistent border, historic inflation, sky-high energy prices, record deficits and debt, racial polarization and appeasement, war, and humiliation abroad were all self-inflicted catastrophes, the logical bitter fruit of a diseased socialist tree. So fear of not just losing in November but also losing in humiliating fashion has made the Left more desperate than usual.

Second, leftwing politics are the operational face of a much larger social and cultural revolution that has also sickened the public and alienated the majority of voters—and also is about to “circle back” on its creators.

The media, Silicon Valley, CEOs, deep state, Wall Street, academia, Hollywood, and professional sports represent a vision of the future of America that most voters do not want. The scolding faces of the rich and pampered political, corporate deep state, and celebrity progressive crowd—Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, John Kerry, the Disney crowd, George Soros, Anthony Fauci or James Comey, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, LeBron James, and Colin Kaepernick—grow wearisome and bore the public. 

This erosion of our culture reflects the growing political discontent in insidious ways: the fall-off of Netflix subscribers, the utter corruption of Black Lives Matter, the humiliation of Disney, the rapid collapse of CNN+, the grassroots revolt against critical race theory and transgender tyranny. 

Third, the Democratic Party no longer exists. It is now hard-left, as sanctimonious as it is shrill. Such zealots will not discard their ideology. Rather they would prefer to embrace dogma and stay unpopular than adopt and gain public approval. 

Do not expect a suddenly closed border, an abrupt resumption of the Keystone XL Pipeline, or a tough new federal crime bill. Do anticipate more wild conspiracy theories, more Russian disinformation, and more Pravda-like ministries.

In this context, the emergence of Elon Musk as the Silicon Valley dragon slayer is emblematic of the ongoing left-wing nightmare. 

As Musk pulls up the shades at Twitter, what are leftists to say: that billionaires should not become media barons, heretofore the pillars of the progressive movement? That suppressing free speech is more popular with the public than liberating expression? That some censorship is better than others?

We have seven more months before the midterms. As the disinformationists see no way out of their self-created Armageddon, expect more disinformation ministries, censorious czars, and hack grandees to emerge from the shadows.

As good Orwellians, they will try to convince us that high gas prices are welcome; negative growth is good; borders are ossified ideas; unaffordable housing aids the economy; inflation can prove useful; a declining stock market is encouraging; crime is a mere construct in the eye of the beholder. 

Anyone who doubts all that will have a rendezvous with Nina Jankowicz. 

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.

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