Weaponizing Information

By: Chris Johnson

About this time last year, Facebook made a dramatic policy change. After several months of “aggressively” banning certain “misinformation” regarding Covid-19 – especially the idea of the virus being manmade – they would now allow the discussion of this possibility.

What was it that changed Facebook policymakers minds? It wasn’t the fact that government officials were now taking these claims seriously, because the initial ban on these ideas came in the wake of Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed suggesting exactly that idea. Cotton, President Trump, and other Republicans questioning the origins of the virus were absurdly accused of anti-Asian prejudice for even wondering whether the facility researching these types of virus might have been its birthplace.

Then, within months, Facebook deemed the question viable for discussion, and why? According to a Reason.com article from June 6, 2021 “…in recent weeks, the lab leak theory—the idea that COVID-19 inadvertently escaped from a laboratory, possibly the Wuhan Institute of Virology—has gained some public support among experts. In March, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief Robert Redfield said that he bought the theory. (His admission earned him death threats; most of them came from fellow scientists.) Nicholson Baker, writing in New York, and Nicholas Wade, formerly of The New York Times, both wrote articles that accepted the lab leak as equally if not more plausible than the idea that COVID-19 jumped from animals to humans in the wild (or at a wet market). Even Anthony Fauci, the White House’s coronavirus advisor and an early critic of the lab leak theory, now concedes it shouldn’t be ruled out as a possibility….”

So, the “misinformation” was correct all along, whether Facebook, Fauci, and Redford wanted to admit it or not, and yet the possibility wasn’t even permitted to be discussed, because the “experts” on their side of the aisle had not yet recognized it.

This is just one example of how the label, ‘misinformation,’ can be easily politicized.

A recent segment by CNN’s Brian Stelter provides another example. Stelter is interviewing the authors of a study which paid FOX News viewers to instead watch CNN for a period of time and then measured whether or not they changed their minds on key issues.

When asked about their findings, one author reports this observation: “We find that partisan media is essentially hiding information from voters.” Brian Stelter, attempting to lean in for a back-scratch, tells him “basically you’re proving what we’ve sensed for a while, which is FOX viewers are in the dark about bad news for the GOP.” The other guest and author of the study affirms this, but then says, “on the flip side, CNN engages in this ‘partisan coverage filtering’ as well.” This puts Stelter on the defensive, as he accuses his guests of “both-sidesism,” leading them to explain that “…all networks do engage in this and in order for viewers to get a realistic picture of the world we need viewers to see all types of information.”

The segment also features a clip of President Obama referencing this study, and what’s remarkable is that it’s obvious that while both Stelter and Obama are very ready to apply this concept to the right, it doesn’t even occur to them that their side might have the same vulnerability, which as we can see in my first example, it absolutely does.

The most extreme example, of course, is that of the Hunter Biden laptop story. The story broken by the New York Post in the month before the election, and immediately banned by social media networks, ignored by news outlets, and denounced by experts as “Russian disinformation” – which social media and news networks clung to like a life raft. Only now, two years later, is it being admitted in mainstream media that those experts were not basing their claims on intelligence, but on their gut feelings. Just four years prior, however, many of these same players were pushing misinformation themselves, regarding a theory that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, based only on files disseminated by his political opponent, whom they doubtless all voted for.

While these are easy to assume to simply be cases of poor judgment, that assumption is harder to accept when the intelligence community proudly admits to using information among its citizenry as a weapon. Consider this piece from an NBC News report: “It was an attention-grabbing assertion that made headlines around the world: U.S. officials said they had indications suggesting Russia might be preparing to use chemical agents in Ukraine.

“President Joe Biden later said it publicly. But three U.S. officials told NBC News this week there is no evidence Russia has brought any chemical weapons near Ukraine. They said the U.S. released the information to deter Russia from using the banned munitions.”

Later, the article explains, “Multiple U.S. officials acknowledged that the U.S. has used information as a weapon even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high. Sometimes it has used low-confidence intelligence for deterrent effect, as with chemical agents, and other times, as an official put it, the U.S. is just ‘trying to get inside Putin’s head.’”

In other words, our intelligence community shapes our perceptions to weaponize international outrage against its enemies. Consider, for a moment, who the leftists in control of government have sought, above any state entity, to paint as an enemy. What traditional, conservative ideal has not been painted as “white supremacy” or “extremism” or even as the Department of Justice effectively accused parents concerned about LGBTQIA+ indoctrination and mask mandates of, as “domestic terrorism?”

All of this creates a terrifying backdrop for the Biden administration’s creation of a “Disinformation Governance Board,” a new section of the Department of Homeland Security. Their director is Nina Jankowicz, an attention hungry Tik Tok activist who has been known to sing odes to censorship in the mode of Mary Poppins and belt out praise for Elizabeth Warren on stage as lead singer of her “band.”

It makes one shudder to imagine what she would consider to be misinformation, particularly when so many on the left have already demonstrated an inability to look at their own side for misinformation or “partisan coverage filtering.” There’s already evidence of her bias on her own social media accounts.

Take this quote from her Mary Poppins parody on TikTok, “Information laundering is really quite ferocious. It’s when a huckster takes some lies and makes them sound precocious, by saying them in Congress or a mainstream outlet, so disinformation’s origins are slightly less atrocious. When Rudy Giuliani shared bad intel from Ukraine. Or when TikTok influencers say COVID can’t cause pain. They’re laundering disinfo and we really should take note. And not support their lies with our wallet, voice or vote.”

I think the best reaction to Jankowicz’ appointment comes from Pulitzer Prize winning independent journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Twitter account: “If you spent the weeks before the 2020 election spreading and ratifying the CIA lie that the Biden family emails were ‘Russian disinformation,’ and then never apologized or retracted it, you have *zero* credibility to lament ‘disinformation.’ You are a disinformation agent.”

It seems that Biden’s disinformation agent is now in charge of “Disinformation Governance.”

And the “czar” who will be determining what is considered “disinformation” has made it clear who she will be targeting, having stated:  “Most of the disinformation that we’ve seen . . . is coming from the right.”  You and I are the targets.  Jankowicz has already suggested that law enforcement should police online speech, stating: “… if I were walking down the street and there were a bunch of men yelling these slurs at me, the police would intervene … Online, that just doesn’t exist yet. So I’m hopeful for that architecture to come into play.”

Now she has the authority to do just that.  Biden’s “Disinformation Governance Board” wasn’t put in just any old government agency, but in the Department of Homeland Security – the law enforcement agency which has more armed employees that any other government agency and is tasked with policing “threats” to America.  And we know who they consider to be threats – those who express viewpoints which differ from the leftist narrative.

A free nation would not have a government agency in charge of controlling information and telling us what is and isn’t “disinformation.” Totalitarian governments do that – and that is what the Left is striving to implement.  The very essence of totalitarianism is to attempt total control. In order to do that, you have to control information.  This is a blatant attempt to further suppress speech and viewpoints which threaten their control.  And with the full power of DHS behind them, that is exactly what a Disinformation Governance Board will do.  We’d be well to remember George Washington’s  warning, “If the freedom of speech may be taken away, dumb and silent we may be led like sheep to the slaughter.”

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