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The Biden administration’s newly appointed disinformation czar claimed in a book she authored that disinformation in the world “shakes the bedrock of democracy” and “can be deadly” as she encouraged government intervention.
In her 2020 book, “How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict,” Jankowicz, who will lead efforts to push back against disinformation through a position at the Department of Homeland Security, highlighted a number of stories that she considered to be “disinformation” and outlined her view of the U.S. government’s response to the “information war.”
An image of Nina Jankowicz from Twitter and a hand scrolling through ‘fake news’ (Arkadiusz Warguła/iStock)
“The year 2020 was not just replete with disinformation about the election, or Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s work in Ukraine, or the severity of foreign interference,” the preface stated. “We encountered a novel category of falsehoods, a list so long and strange it is difficult, if not impossible, to recall its full contents.”
Jankowicz discussed “Russian influence” on America and described the Kremlin’s actions and denial of “basic freedoms” for its citizens, attempting to draw parallels between Russia and the U.S. “These government actions are not in line with the democratic ideals, but since 2016, we have observed the slow erosion of those principles in several Western countries, including the United States,” she wrote.
Digging deeper into the actions Russia has taken against America in recent years, Jankowicz claimed in the book that “American democracy – once a shining city on a hill – is weak and crumbling.” Citing her own reasons for that, Jankowicz took aim at former President Trump’s refusal to place faith in the Russia investigation led by Robert Mueller that cost taxpayers nearly $32 million and did not result in a Trump indictment.
“The hack of the DNC, the amplification of disinformation, Trump’s rejection of the Mueller investigation and refusal to take foreign interference seriously, Democratic operatives’ use of Russian tactics in the fight to defeat Roy Moore in Alabama, Republicans’ refusal to push back on Trump, the continued deterioration of the news media, and social media companies’ pursuit of profit over morality – all of these are events that have taken place or actions that are ongoing,” she wrote.
At one point in her book, Jankowicz claimed the Trump administration “engaged in many of the same tactics as the Russian government, and it has done so for short-term political gain, increasing American vulnerability to future information attacks.”
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
In an attempt to explain that claim, Jankowicz cited examples “tracked by The Washington Post” and pointed to Trump’s dispute of his inauguration crowd size and his amplification of concern over the mysterious death of Jeffrey Epstein.
“Trump has willingly and repeatedly eschewed the truth and eroded American democratic discourse,” she wrote, appearing to suggest that she knows what is fact or fiction.
Discussing the role social media companies have in combating disinformation, Jankowicz blamed Republicans for not putting pressure on big tech and dismissed concern over the apparent political bias that exists on certain platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
“White House and Congressional Republicans have attempted to divert serious discussions about social media companies’ role in creating the disinformation crisis to circuses about questions of ‘political bias’ on the platforms,” she wrote, adding criticism of a social media summit held at the White House in 2019 that “included only right-wing activists to discuss alleged anti-conservative bias on the platforms.”
Discussing certain actions taken by Facebook and Twitter to combat disinformation, Jankowicz suggested it was not enough and encouraged government intervention, which now seems to be a reality she will helm under the DHS.
“What I’ve listed above are the more well-known and purportedly messianic features that social media platforms have developed since 2016,” she wrote. “They are meant to deliver us from all manner of internet evil. They are not enough. Congress and the US government ought to be pushing for more action, not only from social media platforms. The government itself also needs to contribute to the fight.”
Jankowicz’s book also took aim at several right-wing groups, individuals inspired by QAnon theories, and those who questioned the motives behind activists who were engaged with the George Floyd protests.
Nina Jankowicz will be the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. (@wiczipedia Twitter account)
“They embraced their new identities,” she stated. “On more than one occasion, individuals inspired by these theories took to the streets and statehouses, maskless. They threatened first responders, poll workers, and journalists. … They converged on cities around the country, draped in Confederate flags and QAnon paraphernalia, flashing ‘white power signs,’ and brandishing assault weapons.”
According to Jankowicz, those “disinformation-driven events were a tragic prelude for what was to come on January 6.”
Urging readers to take what she had to say seriously and as fact, Jankowicz’s book highlighted the term “fake news.” At the time, she wrote that she did not “condone its general use” and claimed that the term had “all but lost meaning” after politicians made use of it to describe “any narrative they find politically inconvenient.”
“While ‘fake news’ may be the mental file under which many store the information in this book, the effect of disinformation and online influence campaigns on the democratic project is anything but fake,” she said.
In concluding her remarks throughout the book, Jankowicz suggested that America should take lessons from Central and Eastern Europe on how to “win the information war.”
“They know how to lose. They have learned lessons that the West is ignoring at its own peril and at the peril of democracy writ large,” she claimed. “They have also made progress in building a feasible, generational, citizens-based response to the problem while the United States has been mulling whether to build at all.”
Republicans have derided both Jankowicz and the Biden administration’s new disinformation board established through the Department of Homeland Security, arguing it is little more than a “ministry of truth.” Republicans on Capitol Hill have pointed to Jankowicz’s past endorsements of disinformation as well as her efforts to suppress accurate news events that were harmful for Democrats.
Fox News did not receive an immediate response from DHS.
Fox News’ Anders Hagstrom contributed to this article.