On Wednesday, the Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz reported on the disastrous rollout of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. Announced on April 27 with a hazy remit to “coordinate countering misinformation related to homeland security,” the initiative generated immediate fierce backlash from conservative pundits and politicians who compared it to the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984. The expert tapped to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, faced a wave of ferocious, viral, and often personal attacks online as well as scrutiny over her past statements seeming to betray her partisan sympathies. Now, just three weeks later, the Disinformation Governance Board is no more, and Jankowicz has resigned.
According to Lorenz and her sources (other disinformation researchers, as well as staffers in DHS and on the Hill), Jankowicz was taken down “by the very forces she dedicated her career to combating” and was undermined by a flat-footed, timid response from the Biden White House. The campaign against Jankowicz and the board, Lorenz writes, was “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.” In other words, the Disinformation Governance Board was undone by a “textbook disinformation campaign.”