WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 18, 2022)—following concerns being raised in regards to the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, launched three weeks ago, the department is reportedly putting this project on a “pause.
According to The Washington Post, multiple employees working within the DHS said that the program is being “paused” just three weeks after its announcement.
“In naming the 33-year-old Nina Jankowicz to run the newly created board, the administration chose someone with extensive experience in field of disinformation, which has emerged as an urgent and important issue,” according to the Post.
“But within hours of news of her appointment, Jankowicz was thrust into the spotlight by the very forces she dedicated her career to combating. The board itself and DHS received criticism for both its somewhat ominous name and scant details of specific mission (Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it “could have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn’t”), but Jankowicz was on the receiving end of the harshest attacks, with her role mischaracterized as she became a primary target on the right-wing Internet. She has been subject to an unrelenting barrage of harassment and abuse while unchecked misrepresentations of her work continue to go viral,” according to the Washington Post.
Jankowicz had drafted a resignation letter in response to the board’s dissolution, but was given the choice during a conference call remain wit the department. The board has been put on hold because of the backlash it faced, according to multiple people with knowledge of the call, according to the Washington Post.
“Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats,” a DHS spokesperson told The Post in a statement. “In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the Secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the Department’s disinformation work, and he will continue to do so.”
Alleged Reports Of Sabotage When It Gets Tough
Jankowicz’s experience is a prime example of how the right-wing Internet apparatus operates, where far-right influencers attempt to identify a target, present a narrative and then repeat mischaracterizations across social media and websites with the aim of discrediting and attacking anyone who seeks to challenge them. It also shows what happens when institutions, when confronted with these attacks, don’t respond effectively, according to the Post.
Nina Jankowicz tweeted “Cat’s out of the bag: here’s what I’ve been up to the past two months, and why I’ve been a bit quiet on here. Honored to be serving in the Biden Administration at DHSgov and helping shape our counter-disinformation efforts.”
“The board was created to study best practices in combating the harmful effects of disinformation and to help DHS counter viral lies and propaganda that could threaten domestic security. The mission could have been written out of the “Ministry of Truth” in George Orwell’s “1984” that became a derogatory comparison point.”
The Attempts To Justify The Board
The weekend after her hiring was announced, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas attempted to clarify the board’s mission and defended Jankowicz’s credentials. He did a round of TV news interviews and testified about the board during House and Senate committee hearings. A forceful defense of Jankowicz was noticeably absent online, where the attacks against her were concentrated. White House press secretary Jen Psaki debunked false claims about the board during two news briefings and touted Jankowicz as “an expert on online disinformation,” but it had little effect on the growing campaign against her.
“These smears leveled by bad-faith, right-wing actors against a deeply qualified expert and against efforts to better combat human smuggling and domestic terrorism are disgusting,” deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates told The Post on Tuesday.
Source: Read the original article at the Washington Post.