Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas defended the move to make Nina Jankowicz the head of his department’s Disinformation Governance Board despite concerns that her own political opinions could prevent her from approaching the job in an unbiased manner.
The DHS chief made appearances on several of the Sunday morning shows in an attempt to dispel concerns that the board might monitor American citizens in addition to worries about Jankowicz’s ability to be a neutral figure in her new role.
Mayorkas: Nina Jankowicz “eminently qualified” to lead disinformation board; “absolutely” neutral politically
Mayorkas also obfuscates on whether he’d support the same effort under Trump pic.twitter.com/9N1d0Pgny0
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 1, 2022
“Republicans are criticizing your decision, the administration’s decision, to choose Nina Jankowicz to lead this board,” anchor Dana Bash pressed Mayorkas on the subject on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding, “They say she is not somebody neutral.”
“Imminently qualified, a renowned expert in the field of disinformation,” Mayorkas objected.
“Neutral?” Bash asked.
“Absolutely so,” Mayorkas replied.
“Would you be okay if Donald Trump were president, if he created this Disinformation Governance Board or if it is in place in 2024, that he’s in charge of such a thing?” she asked.
Without directly responding to Bash’s challenge, Mayorkas replied, “I believe this working group that gathers together best practices, makes sure our work is coordinated, consistent with those best practices, that we’re safeguarding the right of free speech, that we’re safeguarding civil liberties. I think it’s an extraordinarily important endeavor.”
Mayorkas fielded a similar question from anchor Bret Baier on “Fox News Sunday,” who noted, “The president’s picked to lead this is Nina Jankowicz, she’s taking heat for tweets and comments about major news stories — the Hunter Biden laptop, others. The laptop story, obviously, was blocked from social media outlets because it was called Russian propaganda until it wasn’t.”
“Do you really think that Jankowicz is anywhere near objective enough for this particular job?” Baier asked.
“Yes I do, and by the way, highly regarded as a subject matter expert and I don’t question her objectivity,” Mayorkas replied. “There are people in the department who have a diverse range of views and they are incredibly dedicated to mission. We are not the opinion police. She has testified before Congress a number of times. She is recognized is a tremendous authority and we are very fortunate to have her.”
“Was the Steele Dossier disinformation?” Baier asked.
“It’s not for me to opine on that,” Mayorkas responded.
“Americans are generally wary of anything that suggests censorship,” Baier prompted.
“That is exactly why we set up this working group to make sure that our work to address a real threat to the homeland, the threat posed by Russian disinformation, the threat posed by Chinese disinformation, by Iranian disinformation, the work that we do does not infringe on people’s right of free speech,” Mayorkas insisted. “That’s why this working group was set up. And we will do a better job of communicating about that.”