New White House Press Sec Claims Disinformation, ‘Mischaracterizations’ Tanked Disinformation Board
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 18: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House on May 18, 2022 in Washington, DC. Jean-Pierre answered questions on a range of issues relating primarily to U.S. President Joe Biden's upcoming trip to Asia and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

New White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre argued that disinformation spread by critics of President Joe Biden’s administration were responsible for putting the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board on hold.

Jean-Pierre took questions on the topic at Wednesday’s press briefing, after it was announced earlier in the day that the board was on hold and the woman who had been tapped to head it up — Nina Jankowicz — had resigned.

“Last week, you guys said that you needed the Disinformation Governance Board at DHS to make sure that freedom of speech is protected across the country and that these platforms are not used for forums of disinformation,” Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy said, asking, “So, what changed?”

Jean-Pierre noted that the official statement from DHS had been that the board had been “intentionally mischaracterized” despite the administration’s efforts to “explicitly” detail what the board would and would not do.

“It was never about censorship, policing speech, or removing content from anywhere,” Jean-Pierre continued, adding that the goal was to make sure that DHS was aware of threats posed by disinformation pushed by foreign actors. She went on to say that while the board was on hold, the mission would continue regardless.

“So, if it’s pausing because you think the board was mischaracterized, then the Disinformation Board is being shut down because of disinformation? Is that what’s happening here?” Doocy asked.

“Look, I mean the board was put forth for a purpose, right? To make sure that we really did address what was happening across the country when it came to misinformation,”Jean-Pierre pushed back.

“And it’s okay to wait now 75 days?” Doocy pressed.

“Well, no it’s just — it’s going to pause. There’s been a mischaracterations [sic] from outside forces,” Jean-Pierre said again, once more promising that even though the board was going to “pause” for reevaluation, officials within the DHS still planned to continued the work.

“The work doesn’t stop. We’re still going to continue the work, the DHS is still going to continue the work,” Jean-Pierre said.

Jean-Pierre’s comments echoed the framing of a report that broke Wednesday morning at The Washington Post — written by Taylor Lorenz — which claimed essentially that the board was derailed by a “coordinated” attack campaign promoted by Right-wing activists and had resulted in such “harassment” that Jankowicz had ultimately resigned.

Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald mocked the framing in a series of tweets, saying, “It’s a cause of momentary celebration that the Department of Homeland Security was forced by popular anger to ‘pause’ its Disinformation Board and the absurd #Resistance cartoon they hired to run it, but read this to see how angry Post and @TaylorLorenz are that this happened.”

“Investigating and criticizing a Homeland Security official is now ‘harassment’ and bullying according to the WashPost and @TaylorLorenz. Only ordinary citizens can be investigated — not high-level U.S. Security State operatives. Them’s the rules,” he continued.

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