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Disinformation: A National Concern

Failed State Weekly (World News) for May 9, 2022
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I spent way too much time on the graphic above not to use it — which is hard to believe, I know. One that I spent less time on, and which will be slightly amusing to a smaller number of people, is below:

Screen Shot 2022-05-09 at 11.41.58 AM

When the Department of Homeland Security announced it was forming a Disinformation Board last week sometime, the right-wing internet went nuts. This wasn’t surprising, since it’s a story tailor-made for paranoia.

As Issie Lapowsky writes in Protocol:

The Orwellian name. The utter lack of detail. Even the timing, released smack in the midst of Elon Musk’s “free speech” crusade — all of it combined to spawn a million outraged statements and equally outraged Fox News chyrons before almost anyone even knew what this board was all about. The comparisons to “1984” flooded in.

“Those criticisms are precisely the opposite” of what the board will do, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said during a CNN interview Sunday. In reality, the board is mainly a bureaucratic exercise at DHS [with] “no operational authority.”

“There is little credible information about the new Disinformation Governance Board,” according to the AP. “And that has made it an instant target for criticism.”

And really, that gets to the heart of conspiracy theories, and why they spring up in the first place. Conspiracy theory is an attempt to make sense of a situation where very little is known. And time and again, the federal government has created situations ripe for paranoia and conspiracy theory by failing to give people the information they need to make an informed decision. Some of this is incompetence, sure — and some of it is probably because the government doesn’t really want us to know what is going on anyways.

Critics of the administration are having a (bad faith) field day. The National Review called the new board “Biden’s Ministry of Truth,” while Glenn Greenwald figures that it’s “quite difficult to distinguish this ‘Disinformation Board’ from Ingsoc's Ministry of Truth” in George Orwell’s novel 1984.

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For a less hysterical take on the news, Angry Planet aired an interview with new Disinformation Czar Nina Jankowicz recorded two years ago. It shines a light on the “disinformation industrial complex,” for lack of a better term, and how the Biden administration will likely approach this seemingly intractable problem. This doesn’t necessarily inspire hope, but it does show how the problem is fundamentally different than the Fox Newses of the world would like you to believe.

Ladies and Gentleman (and everybody else), The Fabulous Kari Lake

Kari Lake is running for governor of Arizona, and her campaign ads (see above) are stunning examples of kook iconography. There have been a couple of profiles in the press lately that highlight Lake as one to watch while we chart the decline of the American Empire.

Speaking of conspiracy theories…

Over at Failed State Update, we ran an interview with novelist Candice Wuehle that goes into the psychology of conspiracy myths as a natural response to trauma and a lack of information about the world around you.

Read The Poetry and Majesty of Conspiracy Theory at Failed State Update

More Failed State Updates

Last but not least, Dinesh D’Souza has a new film. Get D’Souza’d!™ below:

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