“Trust Me, I’m [Now] The Government”: Jankowicz Pledges to Protect Free Speech Rights

There is an old fable of a scorpion who wants to cross a river and convinced a hesitant frog to carry him on its back. After all, if he stung the frog in the river, they both would die. That seemed logical so the frog agreed to do so only to have the scorpion deliver a lethal sting halfway across. When the frog asked why the scorpion would doom them both, the scorpion replies: “I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist the urge. It’s in my nature.”

The story came to mind this week when the new head of the Disinformation Governance Board, Nina Jankowicz, pledged to protect free speech despite a career dissing and dismissing the right. After withering criticism of her appointment, Jankowicz declared the new board at Homeland Security will “maintain the Dept’s committment [sic] to protecting free speech.” She has spent a career denouncing “first amendment zealots” like myself who believe in a robust view of free speech.

As previously discussed, Jankowicz has made a career as an advocate for public and corporate censorship as well as spreading disinformation. She has been a popular figure on the left in assuring audiences that “the ‘free speech vs censorship’ framing is a false dichotomy.”

Not surprisingly, she was one of the first to express outrage at the notion that Elon Musk might restore free speech rights to Twitter:

“I shudder to think about if free speech absolutists were taking over more platforms, what that would look like for the marginalized communities … which are already shouldering … disproportionate amounts of this abuse.”

Jankowicz has declared disinformation to be “an American pathology” and said that Joe Biden is the doctor who can cure that condition.

That pathology, however, appears to largely manifest itself on the right for Jankowicz who has been criticized for spreading disinformation on subjects like the Hunter Biden laptop.  She is also a huge advocate of censorship, including calls to ban conservative publications from social media.

In her article, “How to Defeat Disinformation: An Agenda for the Biden Administration” in Foreign Affairs in November of 2020, Jankowicz wrote that Biden needed to get into the business of regulating speech in a big way. Despite the outcry of many of us over the expansive censorship programs on social media, Jankowicz was not satisfied. She dismissed those programs as merely

“temporary, surface-level changes to curb the spread of false claims, but [social media companies] continue to profit from the very structures and imperatives that are now driving groups of Trump-supporting, reality-denying vigilantes to rally at ballot counting centers across the country.”

That has led Jankowicz to call for good old-fashioned government controls over speech if Biden is going to take the threat of disinformation “seriously.” She has pushed the same European censorship efforts that were recently championed by Hillary Clinton after the Musk takeover.

Jankowicz wanted Biden to “creat[e] a counter-disinformation czar within the National Security Council and setting up a corresponding directorate.” That “directorate” was created in Homeland Security instead.

Turns out, the Biden administration gave this new power to the Department of Homeland Security.

Jankowicz, however, is now assuring the public that it has nothing to fear with our new Disinformation Tsar on its back.  In history, the shores of civil liberties are littered with dead frogs who accepted that “trust me, I’m the government” assurance.

219 thoughts on ““Trust Me, I’m [Now] The Government”: Jankowicz Pledges to Protect Free Speech Rights”

  1. I like how Professor Turley subtly let us know that our new Reichszensur is too dumb to properly spell the word “commitment.” And yes I know I’m banned so my comment won’t be printed. Alas, alack.

  2. Maybe one of the greatest dangers of the 21st Century is COVERT censorship by both government and private censors (note: many private social media companies share with government censors). The American government has a really bad record of using “Cointelpro” style tactics (covert tactics).

    Shouldn’t a government-censor be legally required to censor you OVERTLY so you know about and the reasons why? What is the ability to challenge or appeal covert censorship? A government-censor (like DHS) is legally required to comply with First Amendment restraints on authority.

    There is also no risk of penalty to the censor if performed covertly. An official lacking ethics can censor anything they please and get away with it, since they would never confront you overtly.

  3. I don’t even bother to read the substance of what Turley writes anymore because it’s just partisan blather, echoing what Fox puts out, and it’s almost always misleading, incomplete, slanted, insincere, or downright untrue. Tell us, Turley, since Trump has taken over the Republican Party, and it’s now very clear that several key and vociferous Republicans helped in the planning of the insurrection and are either lying about their involvement (McCarthy, Jones) or suddenly claiming amnesia (Greene), how do you define “the right” and what are the “conservatives” you claim are being victimized? I used to know what these words meant, but that was before Trump, who has destroyed all of the traditional values and beliefs of what used to be the Republican Party, such things as respect for the rule of law, patriotism, belief in free and fair elections, honesty, acceptance of the will of the American people, the peaceful transfer of power, respect for the Constitution and fair play. Those things are long gone now that you have Trump in charge. And, as we’ve seen, he is such a fine leader: a long string of failed businesses, 6 bankruptcies, thousands of lawsuits, hundreds of millions in debt, hotels and golf resorts under water, and the most-disastrous presidency in American history–impeached twice, decimated our economy, botched a pandemic, alienated our allies, started a trade war, fomented an insurrection because he couldn’t accept the fact that he got voted out of office, 60+ failed lawsuits, attorneys under disbarment proceedings, and now, a Congressional committee turning up evidence every day that the Republican Party was directedly involved in attempting to prevent Biden’s victory from being certified. Jan 6th was NO peaceful protest that got out of control: it was a full-on insurrection to try to keep a losing candidate in power.

    Now that you work for an intellectually dishonest media outlet that peddles disinformation, Turley, where do you get off throwing shade on someone you accuse of being against the right? If you define the current Republican Party (with VERY few exceptions) as representing “the right” or “conservatism”, then it would be WRONG to fail to do something about the endless lying, stirring up culture wars, pitting Americans against one another, peddling of racism (see recent piece on Tucker Carlson, deemed to be the most-racist on television) all for the ego of a massive failure of a man. Never forget the words of Rick Wilson, Republican strategist: “Everything Trump Touches Dies”.

    1. Did you leave any of the Kool Aid for anyone else? TDS–an insidious malady that persists to this day. Give to the Defeat TDS Project! Today Twitter, tomorrow Facebook!
      On the bright side, even Natacha’s rather moronic beliefs won’t be censored by a normal Twitter. Spout away, Natchy! Glory in the marketplace of ideas!

      1. Calling me names is easy, but what did I say about Trump that was factually incorrect? Name something.

    2. That was a spirited attack on Trump! Not sure what it has to do with the subject at hand. Are you o,k, with government censoring “disinformation”? Even if the freedom speech angle doesn’t bother you, there is the obvious problem of who decides what disinformation is. I guess the party in control gets to decide. Right? And of course, yesterdays disinformation, is todays accepted fact.

    3. Jankowitz epitomizes today’s Democrat party apparatchik: shallow, ignorant, narcissistic. Also immature based on her performances on social media.

    4. This is a ridiculous attack and doesn’t challenge anything said in his piece. Take that mindless stuff elsewhere.

    5. When you mentioned Rick Wilson as a “Republican strategist”, I couldn’t hold my laughter back anymore. What a rant.

  4. This would only be legitimate if DHS took direct orders from the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the DHS management. The First Amendment was designed as a “restraint” on authority of Congress and a restraint on authority executive branch agencies – like DHS.

    Unless DHS changes this chain-of-command, this whole effort may well be illegal and wasted taxpayer expense. Congress under Article I does have the authority so maybe a “Legislative Branch agency” would be legitimate following high court rulings.

    1. When you say “This would only be legitimate…,” what does “This” refer to?
      When you say “this whole effort,” what effort are you talking about?

      Turley has portrayed Mayorkas’s comment about a “misinformation/disinformation governance board” as if that refers some sort of censorship entity, but Turley hasn’t presented any evidence to support his assumption.

  5. On a related matter, Berenson’s complaint against Twitter survived a motion to dismiss. Though I have not yet found the ruling, according to Politico it appears that the claim that Twitter violated its terms of service will be allowed to proceed, but that the free speech claims will not, because Section 230 precludes liability for Twitter for removing content that Twitter considers might be harmful to its users. That means that discovery can go forward, which may reveal something about how and why Twitter made the decision to remove Berenson. I don’t know if the decision can be appealed.

    If anyone has located the ruling, please post.

    1. I read the decision and I think it’s the first crack in the wall vis-a-vis Twitter, Facebook, et al. The trial judge is a lean-lefter (he also handled the case re: videos of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts). It is clear that 230 needs to be eliminated or, at least, modified extensively. Haven’t seen the full decision but will access via PACER.

  6. I caught Jankowicz‘ act before. When not singing bawdy songs, you can catch her with two other lovely lib gals stirring a cauldron and making some interesting political comments about a certain demented leader. The redhead in the center keeps saying “I’ll circle back on that one.” Not sure what Shakespeare had in mind with that line.
    https://youtu.be/VY0Hyza6C-U

    1. Mark, if you have an opportunity, contact Chris Malone. After Mass today John Tucker informed me that Chris suddenly lost his wife on Friday without warning. It has been a while since I have spoken to Chris, but he is a gentle giant, a Catholic attorney in the mold of Sir Thomas More, and a man’s man willing to help anyone. John told me Chris is in shock so a call from you would go a long way

      1. estovir:

        I know who Chris is since he’s been practicing in Richmond as long as I have but I can’t say he’s a friend. I will give him a call if John thinks it would help out.

  7. It’s like this corrupt, incompetent administration is right out of a Mel Brooks comedy… except they ARE
    KAOS and CONTROL 🤣😆😂🤔🤪

  8. Surely, it’s purely coincidental that Dems are as popular as VD, the mid-term elections loom, and they invent a Ministry of Truth?

    And isn’t it great that Dimentia Joe rules from the center as per his campaign promises?

    1. Yep, conservatives are flirting with authoritarianism.

      For example, in an interview tonight, Steven Levitsky (professor of government at Harvard and co-author of “How Democracies Die”) noted “What’s most significant to me is in a small-d democratic party — a political party that is committed to democracy — party leaders should be unambiguous in breaking with figures, groups, factions that either endorse violence or that seek to undermine democratic rules of the game. Anti-democratic elements should be shunned, should be expelled, denounced and shunned by mainstream political parties. That’s what democratic parties do. When parties are not fully committed to democracy, they behave in exactly the way that Kevin McCarthy is behaving, trying to have it both ways, speaking out of both sides of their mouth, kind of denouncing when they need to but not really, not following up, ending up sort of condoning or tolerating or hiding under the table and remaining silent instead of expelling anti-democratic forces from their ranks. …
      “Marjorie Taylor Greene is an authoritarian member of Congress. Republicans are electing authoritarian figures to higher office. It’s true she’s not a high-ranking Republican, but she is among the best fundraisers now among all Republican House members. She is a rock star among the Republican rank and file. And most importantly, she is a demonstrably authoritarian figure who has, at various points of time, flirted with if not embraced acts of violence or violent rhetoric and has not been expelled from the Republican Party ranks. One thing that we learned that’s crystal clear from democratic breakdowns in Europe in the 1930s, from South America in the 1960s and ’70s, is that when mainstream parties tolerate and accommodate anti-democratic extremists within their ranks rather than expelling them, condemning them, distancing themselves from them, democracies are in trouble. …”
      https://www.npr.org/2022/04/30/1095781479/what-the-leaked-jan-6-recordings-say-about-democracy-right-now

      1. Hahahaha!!! So says the person who references N.P.R.!! I can’t even take you seriously 😆 Yeah, let’s remember that it’s Dementia Patient and his party that just instituted a Ministry of Truth in the American government. Marjorie Taylor Greene and the Republicans are authoritarian, give me an F’ing break….

      2. I doubt you read How Democracies Dies. I have. If you look at the two Harvard authors work you would see that all of the “signs” of a dying democracies did not slow down after Trump left office. In fact it is speeding up. When you create a Ministry of Truth, find out the Dems made up the Russian collusion, abused the FISA courts to go after Trump and his administration and important facts about Biden foreign business transactions is hidden by the press, and a Committee is appointed to study the problems of the Supreme Ct bc the decisions aren’t going your way, that is tyranny. The witnesses who have testified have asserted ideas of removing from the Court the power of judicial review. That means if Congress passes a law, even if blatantly unconstitutional like denying right to counsel or doing away with search warrants. The Court has no power to declare a law unconstitutional. That is nuts. Checkout the testimony of Harvard law professor Jim Bowie. He said that if you think a law is unconstitutional, you would need to get the law changed. I sent him an email and asked how an indigent person sitting in jail who was denied right to counsel is supposed to get Congress to change the law and have the president sign it—all from his jail cell. No response. These are authoritarian steps. An authoritarian government can rise from a legislature. In fact if you read Farrund’s work on the Constitutional Convention which is much more expansive and thorough than Madison’s notes, you would see the founders were much more afraid of an authoritarian legislature than an authoritarian president. As Franklin said, the president is a man who can be impeached or assassinated. An authoritarian Congress is much more dangerous. We have an authoritarian Congress under the democrats.

        1. kunstlersghost,
          I think of it this way, all those things people accused Trump was going to do (because he was literally Hitler), the Biden admin has done.

          1. Then you must surely recognize that the government under Biden has accelerated that of which they were afraid. Democracy is dying faster under Biden and the Democrats.

            1. I disagree. More importantly, Levitsky clearly disagrees. Who do you think understands his argument better: you or him?

              1. Don’t you ever pay attention to dates? The book was written Jan 2018, before Biden was President. You are very dishonest and not well educated.

                1. Howdy there troll!

                  Perhaps you’re unaware that the authors have continued discussing this since the book was published, including the interview with Levitsky just a few days ago that I linked to in my original comment.

                  He knows better than you do what he believes, and in that interview, he said “Republicans are electing authoritarian figures to higher office. … [MTG] is a demonstrably authoritarian figure who has, at various points of time, flirted with if not embraced acts of violence or violent rhetoric and has not been expelled from the Republican Party ranks. One thing that we learned that’s crystal clear from democratic breakdowns in Europe in the 1930s, from South America in the 1960s and ’70s, is that when mainstream parties tolerate and accommodate anti-democratic extremists within their ranks rather than expelling them, condemning them, distancing themselves from them, democracies are in trouble.”

                  HE is clearly more concerned about Republicans electing anti-democratic extremists, failing to expel anti-democratic extremists, … than he is about Democrats.

                  1. What are MTG’s Authoritarian polices ?
                    Other Republicans ?

                    Here is the list of legislation MYG has sponsored or cosponsored
                    I might not agree with it all – but I do not see anything authoritarian ?

                    https://greene.house.gov/issues/sponsored-cosponsored-legislation

                    As best as I can tell authoritarian is just another slur from those on the left to target those pushing for individual liberty or opposing the left’s failed agenda.

                    If you can not make the case that MTG is authoritarian using FACTS – why should you be trusted ?

                    1. John,

                      I am not Steven Levitsky. If you want to know why he believes what he believes, listen to or read what he’s said and written about it, or email him and ask him.

                      I don’t care whether you trust me. I certainly don’t trust you. You often make unfounded claims, and you seldom correct your mistakes. For example, you’re the guy who repeatedly claimed that “One Kavanaugh protestor who took an AXE to a senators door – had the axe returned,” was challenged on it, didn’t substantiate your claim, and also didn’t retract it. An example:
                      https://jonathanturley.org/2022/04/23/destroying-democracy-to-save-it-court-advances-effort-to-block-gop-candidates-from-ballots/comment-page-4/#comment-2177855

                    2. ATS says: “[MTG] is a demonstrably authoritarian figure.”

                      Then he uses the name of a supposed “authority,” Steven Levitsky, to back up his claim.

                      ATS comes full circle. ATS can’t show why he made that statement and won’t quote what Levitsky said. In other words, ATS throws out statements that have no backing and then talks about books and authors until he runs out of words. Typical of most of the comments he makes.

                      To top it off, he changes the subject to talk about an ax.

                  2. Apparently you are ignorant of history.

                    The Nazi’s rose as an independent party, they were NOT part of any mainstream party.
                    Perone was briefly in the Labor party before forming his own party

                    Do you have an actual example to support your claim ?

                    A much better argument is that authoritarians come to power when governments – usually left leaning FAIL.

                  3. Sorry, you said the 60’s and 70’s in south america – that would be when Pinochette in Chile – unaffiliated with any political party staged a successful coup against Salvadore Allende a communist who was at war with the rest of the the elected government at the time and resisted constitutional limits to his own power

                    Chile has a long history of being prosperous and free – when not ruled by leftist idiots.

                    1. John B. Say —- “history of being prosperous and free”. Only for those who wrote the history. Ask, for example, the Malapuche.

                  4. “I read How Democracies Die a couple of years ago, thanks.”

                    The book was what your reference was to.

                    “He knows better than you do what he believes”

                    He knows better than you what he believes as well. His beliefs were put in his book written before Biden was President. You now have to make excuses because you forgot the dates. But how am I to now believe that your conclusions of what he believes is correct. You have no credibility and have been wrong far more than you have been right.

                    “when mainstream parties tolerate and accommodate anti-democratic extremists within their ranks rather than expelling them, condemning them, distancing themselves from them, democracies are in trouble.”

                    It’s always interesting when you make such claims without facts. What extinguishes our Constitututional Republic is when the party in power abridges the rights of citizens and attempts to control speech either by direct action or through third parties. So far Democrats have abridged freedom and freedom of speech along with their control over social media, the news and academia.

      3. NPR-National Propaganda Radio, funded by Leftists, to serve Leftist agenda….

  9. Biden’s handlers should have named it the “Knowledge Governance Board”

    Oh, wait. KGB was already taken.

    1. What’s your proposed legislation / constitutional amendment (since depending on what you’re proposing, you might need to amend the Constitution for your proposal to pass constitutional muster)?

      1. I don’t think you’d need an amendment to the Constitution. If a government agency wrongfully censors (i.e., violating 1st A rights), and such is adjudicated by the courts, the agency should be subject to civil penalties paid to the aggrieved party. Maybe extend that liability to the head of the agency (that’d be fun!).

        If a private actor, you would have to demonstrate either that the entity is operating in something akin to “under color of law” (e.g., DHS’s new Truth Directorate requests something be censored) or the entity’s platform is such that it has become a marketplace forum (See Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980) as a starting point; not dispositive). Then civil penalties would lie. A fine of $100,000 per unlawful censorship might focus the mind wonderfully.

        1. Manny’s statement, “It is time to make censorship a crime,” was quite broad. I responded to that broad statement.

          If, for example, Manny wishes to make it illegal for a social media company to delete a comment that violates the company’s Terms of Service, then Manny’s wish violates the company’s own 1st Amendment rights. THAT could only be overcome with an amendment modifying the company’s 1st Amendment rights.

          1. In the case of private actors, you’re over-engineering the solution to the problem (if problem exists). It is not a matter of tuning up the 1st Amendment. You can leave that as is (if I was going there, I’d probably only work on making it easier to sue for defamation). I’m not saying it could be dealt with solely by statute, given the constitutional issues, but by court decisions such as Pruneyard. Especially where the court believes the private entity is acting in concert with and/or at the behest of government. Directly or indirectly (see news story yesterday about Biden Administration “admonishing” Politico for not covering his policies the right way in their view). Or that a social media platform has become so ubiquitous that it comes under the 1st A for the benefit of society at large.

            1. I don’t know what court rulings you’re imagining, but Pruneyard didn’t make anything a crime.

              Again, Manny said “It is time to make censorship a crime.”

        2. “If a private actor . . .”

          So you want a “law” that violates the rights of private citizens, e.g., to property, and to associate and not associate with who they want?! In the name of “protecting” a right, you want the government to initiate force against individuals and companies.

          In principle, there is no difference between the government banning speech, and the government compelling a person to publicize speech. More broadly, there is no such thing as the “right” to violate the rights of others.

          1. You apparently didn’t understand the qualifiers: The private entity is either acting “under color of law” or the private entity has become so ubiquitous that it has become “the public square”. I think both can be argued vis-a-vis the major social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It’s a relatively complex argument and may be beyond your understanding. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, I only mean that you may not be well-versed in constitutional precedent and statutory laws.

            1. “. . . It’s a relatively complex argument . . .”

              Your conclusion is crystal clear. Your appeal to complexity is merely smoke and mirrors.

              “. . . it comes under the 1st A for the benefit of society at large.”

              You use collectivism (the “public good”) to rationalize the destruction of, for example, the rights to contract and to property.

              ” . . .that a social media platform has become so ubiquitous . . .”

              And *that* is the evil of your argument. A company’s owners and management use their productive abilities to make a product fabulously popular (“ubiquitous”). Your response to that success is not to protect and reward them. But to punish them.

              1. Not sure how requiring, say, Twitter to allow people to speak is “punishment”. Isn’t the model for Twitter people speaking? You don’t explain that. Not sure how making a “public square” argument is “evil”. You don’t explain that, either. In terms of the latter, the courts have recognized the phenomenon of a private venue being treated as public for purposes of allowing speech. I’ve previously cited one case in that sphere: PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins, 447 U.S. 74 (1980).

                The *evil* actions are those that seek to turn a forum into an echo chamber for one point of view, that hides true facts it finds inconvenient to its own beliefs and suspends speakers simply for being contrarian…and then labels that speech as “hate” only as a cover to hide their anti-speech intent. And the shareholders be damned.

                1. “Not sure how requiring, say, Twitter to allow people to speak is ‘punishment’.”

                  That “requiring” is government force, compulsion, coercion. It is the government injecting physical force into a free market transaction. That “punishment” is usurping Twitter’s rights (e.g., to property, contract, association).

                  Statists always use the collectivist notion of public “good,” common carrier, public square to rationalize government control of an industry. Public ownership of the means of production is not capitalism. It’s a page from Marx.

                  That “echo chamber” is a separate issue. A private company has the right to set whatever terms of trade it desires. It has the right to refuse service. You may not like those terms or their implementation (as I don’t agree with Twitter’s). But it’s not your company. The civilized reaction is to take your business elsewhere.

                  1. You are simply arguing in circles and ignoring the point that the courts have held that, at some point, it is possible for a private enterprise to cross a line into public (government) oversight. Whether it is Pruneyard applied to Twitter or the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914 applied to Big Tech in general. None of those would be considered Marxist, none would be taking the means of production. All would be intended to foster fair and free trade…..and free speech.

                    1. Your appeal to (wrongly decided) court opinions is the fallacy of legalism. This is an issue of *rights*, not of court precedent.

                      Free trade and free speech include the absence of the initiation of physical force (whether by an individual or the government). What you, and others, demand is for the government to inject its police powers into a free market transaction. Playing games with words does not rescue you from that fact.

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