ou can just call me the Mary Poppins of disinformation.” That Twitter intro
to a TikTok parody
of the song “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” is now indelibly connected to Nina Jankowicz, the new head of the federal government’s announced Disinformation Governance Board.
Given her record of spreading disinformation and advocating censorship, Jankowicz hardly needed the musical-inspired persona. Yet, for the Biden administration, Jankowicz — like Mary Poppins — is “practically perfect in every way” to keep track of whether we all “measure up” in our public statements.
It is still unclear from the administration’s public statements what authority the board will wield, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the board as intended “to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities.”
It was no accident that Jankowicz alighted on this Administration. She is the perfect nanny to tidy up the mess of free speech. President Biden already has established himself as arguably the most anti-free speech president since John Adams. During his transition period, Biden appointed outspoken advocates for censorship; as president, he has pushed social media companies to expand censorship, while his administration has been criticized for spying on journalists.
Now, with Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and his pledge to restore free speech values to the platform, panic has set in among Democrats — including Jankowicz, who told National Public Radio, “I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities.”
Jankowicz’s singing voice may be impressive, but her appointment is tone-deaf.
She has been ridiculed for pushing the false “Russian disinformation” claim about the original reporting on Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, stressing that “we should view it as a Trump campaign product.” She continued to spread that disinformation, including tweeting a link to a news article that she said cast “yet more doubt on the provenance of the NY Post’s Hunter Biden story.” In another related tweet, she added that “emails don’t need to be altered to be part of an influence campaign. Voters deserve that context, not a [fairy] tale about a laptop repair shop.” Conversely, she cited Christopher Steele, author of the discredited “Steele dossier” during the 2016 presidential campaign, as a source on how to stop disinformation.
An even more tone-deaf figure may be Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who appointed Jankowicz to her new role. Mayorkas seemingly follows that other Mary Poppins command — “I would like to make one thing clear: I never explain anything” — as he and President Biden have maintained one of the most disgraceful examples of disinformation: the accusation that U.S. border agents whipped migrants in Texas.
The whipping story is a chilling example of real disinformation that can be devastating for individuals and destructive in politics. The story of white officers whipping Haitian migrants at the southern border was utterly irresistible and eagerly embraced by many media and political figures. It was based largely on a misleading photograph of a mounted border officer, despite an available video that clearly refuted the whipping claim. Even the image’s photographer stated at the time that the story was false and “nobody saw a Border Patrol agent whipping” anyone.
Still, many in the media went into a familiar feeding frenzy, encouraged by key political figures. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) declared that the alleged whipping was just the latest example of “white supremacist behavior.” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the incident was “worse than what we witnessed in slavery” and decried that “the cowboys who were running down Haitians and using their reins to whip them.” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) condemned the pur…