White House pledges DHS disinfo board will be ‘nonpartisan and apolitical’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that a board on disinformation recently convened by the Department of Homeland Security will operate “in a nonpartisan and apolitical manner.”
“The mandate is not to adjudicate what is true or false online or otherwise,” Psaki told reporters during a briefing. “It will operate in a nonpartisan and apolitical manner. It’s basically meant to coordinate a lot of the ongoing work that is happening … and the focus is on disinformation and threats to the homeland.”
Psaki said that the board would address disinformation related to threats such as violent extremism, human trafficking and malign foreign influence. She also noted — as she did last week — that the work of the board started under former President Trump’s administration in 2020.
Republicans have attacked the board since its creation was disclosed last week, comparing the effort to the “Ministry of Truth” depicted in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”
Some have also zeroed in on the board’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, suggesting that she can’t be neutral because of tweets that she sent in 2020 regarding a New York Post story about a laptop purportedly belonging to President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Jankowicz, an expert in disinformation and eastern Europe, at the time amplified the opinion of national security experts that the laptop was part of a Russian influence operation. Publications including The Washington Post have since verified content on the laptop.
Conservatives have also mocked Jankowicz over a TikTok video she made about disinformation.
Psaki and other Biden officials have defended Jankowicz, describing her as highly qualified to lead the new Disinformation Governance Board.
During an appearance on CNN on Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas disputed on the criticisms of the board while acknowledging the department “could have done a better job of communicating what it does and does not do.”
Mayorkas said the board would not infringe on free speech and would not monitor U.S. citizens, noting that the board has no operational authority. He said that the board plans to communicate “best practices” to operators already addressing the threat of disinformation.
Mayorkas also described Jankowicz as “eminently qualified” and said she would “absolutely” be neutral.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.