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OPINION

'Disinformation Governance Board' is Shocking But Nothing New, Federal Govt. Has Played This Game Before

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Gregory Bull

As shocking as is the news that the Biden Administration is using the resources of the federal government to monitor speech it opposes, what’s really shocking is that this “news” is not really new at all – it’s merely part of a long pattern of efforts by the left to use the resources of government to shut down its opponents.

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On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security revealed that it had recently created a new government entity, the “Disinformation Governance Board,” operating out of DHS. Co-chaired by DHS Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers and DHS Principal Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Daskal, the DGB, according to the Associated Press, will serve as “an effort to counter disinformation coming from Russia as well as misleading information that human smugglers circulate to target migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border.”  

In truth, the DGB’s focus will be even broader than that. Said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in March, in remarks to the National Association of Secretaries of State, “Each day, all of you … confront threats to the security and integrity of our elections from foreign interference, nefarious actors, and others … and what is increasingly becoming rampant mis- and disinformation about elections that undermine confidence in our democratic institutions.” 

Comments by Nina Jankowicz, who serves as the board’s executive director, raise red flags, too. Speaking of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop, she told the AP there was doubt the laptop even belonged to Biden’s son and concluded, “We should view it as a Trump campaign product.”  

I can’t help but wonder – if she had been in charge of a “Disinformation Governance Board” in the fall of 2020, what would have happened to the Hunter Biden laptop story? 

Jankowicz revealed her true feelings about the First Amendment in a comment related to Elon Musk’s recent effort to acquire Twitter. In an interview with NPR, she said, “I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities.”  

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I’m sure I’m not the only one disturbed at the fact that someone who can refer to supporters of the First Amendment’s guarantees with such disdain is now leading an effort to monitor and police political speech.

Beyond that, I’m also quite sure I’m not the only one disturbed at the fact that the federal government of the United States is once again undertaking to monitor and police political speech it opposes. The First Amendment guarantees each of us the right to speak freely about political matters without fear of the federal government locking us up. 

As the leader of Tea Party Patriots, an organization that was actually targeted by the Internal Revenue Service – another widely-feared federal government agency – I have some experience with the federal government’s abuse of taxpayer dollars to block political speech its leaders oppose. 

This isn’t the first time Biden’s DHS has used its powers to block the spread of information that counters its preferred narrative. Last September, when news organizations were flying drones over areas of the southwest border to show the size of the group of Haitian migrants that had clustered together, the FAA banned the flight of drones over the area at the direction of a Homeland Security official.  

Nor is it the first time a presidential administration featuring Joe Biden as a principal player tried to use the resources of the federal government to block the spread of information it opposes. In the summer of 2009, as President Obama’s efforts to pass ObamaCare were picking up steam, his White House launched a “citizen reporting” program to quell any type of opposition to ObamaCare, even if it was simply a conversation or an email among private citizens. The then-White House Director of New Media, Macon Phillips, claimed that “[t]here is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there,” particularly circulating in chain emails. Phillips said that “[s]ince we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”  

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It took less than two weeks for the Obama White House to acknowledge its wrong and shut down the “citizen reporting” program. It would behoove the Biden Administration to be as wise and adept at reading public opinion and acknowledging its wrong and immediately shut down the Disinformation Governance Board. 

Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.  

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