Tucker, Marco Rubio Fight DHS 'Disinformation Governance Board' With ... You Guessed It! ... Disinformation
After months of book bannings, laws barring teachers from mentioning that queer people exist, and pushing bills to require doctors to tell their patients that ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are effective against COVID-19 even though they are not, the Right is once again trying to cast itself as the great defender of free speech. They figure if they just say it over and over again, people will believe it is true — and, sadly, they're not wrong.
Last night, Fox hosts and Republican politicians alike flipped out over the news that the Department of Homeland Security is forming a Disinformation Governance Board — currently for the explicit purpose of countering Russian disinformation and "misleading information that human smugglers circulate to target migrants hoping to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border." While you might think the Fox hosts would be thrilled by the latter, given how much they hate immigrants, they are much more concerned about the idea of lies in general being portrayed as bad, as well as a potential threat to domestic security.
Tucker Carlson, very normally, claimed that the new initiative was going to result in "men with guns" coming after people just for simply disagreeing with Joe Biden on things.
Joe Biden cannot continue to control this country if you have free access to information. It's that simple. Biden certainly is not improving your life, he's not even trying to improve your life. So, the best he can do is lie to you and demand that you believe it. But to do that, he needs to make certain that nobody else can talk because if you were to hear the truth, you might not obey.
How is Biden going to pull that off? It's not easy. Well, one option would be to get men with guns to tell you to shut up. Most Americans probably haven't thought of that because this isn't Africa or Eastern Europe. This is America and we don't do things like that here and never have. More precisely, we haven't until now. But now, Joe Biden is president and everything is different.
So, today to herald the coming of the new Soviet America, the administration announced its own ministry of truth. This will be called the "Disinformation Governance Board." Laugh if you want, but just to show you they're not kidding around here, this board is not part of the State Department or any other agency focused on foreign threats from abroad. No. The Disinformation Governance Board is part of the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is a law enforcement agency designed to police the United States — and by the way a famously large stockpile of ammunition. So, it's not a joke at all.
Gotta love a good 1984 reference from people who clearly haven't even read the Cliff's Notes.
An oddly sweaty Marco Rubio also claimed he was all a tither about how the new board was an example of how "these people on the marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights."
If you didn\u2019t believe these people on the marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights, you better believe it nowpic.twitter.com/AsB2Jn3aXj— Marco Rubio (@Marco Rubio) 1651153140
A lot of people don’t know this yet but the Department of Homeland Security has just set up a special office that’s gonna be a speech police. They’re basically gonna be focused on misinformation. They announced it yesterday. This is under the Department of Homeland Security, so instead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration … they’re not going to be focused on that, they’re going to be focused on policing speech. On making sure that people can’t share information or say things that they decide is misinformation.
Guys, it’s time to wake up. If you don’t think these people aren’t coming after free speech, if you don’t think they’re not coming after our freedom, you better believe it now.
The truly impressive thing here is exactly how much "disinformation" Rubio and Carlson were able to get in their brief rants about the Disinformation Governance Board. Let's count them!
1. Biden certainly is not improving your life, he's not even trying to improve your life.
Except for the time when he tried to pass a bill that would have addressed climate change, expanded Medicare, eliminated the Medicaid gap, expanded ACA premium subsidies, invested in the healthcare workforce, funded paid family leave, funded universal pre-K and a childcare program, continued the child tax credit, invested in affordable housing, increased Pell grants and more, but couldn't, because Republicans, Joe Manchin, and Kyrsten Sinema. It's certainly not his fault that Republican senators did not want to improve people's lives.
2. "[Biden] needs to make certain that nobody else can talk because if you were to hear the truth, you might not obey."
Obey what, exactly? What is Joe Biden nefariously demanding that people "obey"? I would love to know. Like the biggest example they could possibly come up with are the previous requirements that people wear masks, while in enclosed public places, during a freaking pandemic.
There is something so absurdly narcissistic about the fact that these people imagine anyone is desperately concerned about getting them to "obey," when the only thing anyone has ever asked them to do is not actively harm other people.
3. Well, one option would be to get men with guns to tell you to shut up.
Oh yeah, because that's definitely what a governance board is for. They're gonna send armed agents to people's houses just for believing that all of the celebrities are eating babies to get high.
4. [I]nstead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration … they’re not going to be focused on that, they’re going to be focused on policing speech.
Again, this is literally about "the border." Part of the misinformation the board is meant to address is the problem of people profiting off of lying to those who want to come to this country by telling them that a certain border is open at certain points, when it is not. So people pay these jerks all of their money and then end up totally screwed when they find out they have been lied to, creating a humanitarian crisis.
None of that actually matters to Carlson or Rubio because what they are upset about, really, is the very idea that their lies or misinformation should be considered wrong or bad. In 2020, Fox's lawyers literally argued, successfully, in court, that "no reasonable person" would believe anything Carlson had to say. The Right must maintain the fiction that lies don't actually cause any real harm, because then they'd be held responsible for what people do when they believe their lies.
But lies do cause harm, and more importantly for the DHS (which I actually personally believe should be abolished entirely), can even result in domestic terrorism. In fact, I can't think of a single recent act of domestic terrorism that wasn't committed by a person or persons believing things that were objectively untrue.
The thing that should scare people is that everything that happened on January 6 was not an entirely unreasonable response to what those people believed happened. If an evil cabal of nefarious actors actually did steal a US election, it would be incumbent on US citizens to do everything within their power to stop it from going through. The problem is that it didn't happen, but that they believed it did because people they trusted told them that it did.
Those people, the ones that spread the lie, are not being held accountable. They are not the ones sitting in prison right now. And you know what? This particular "governance board" will do absolutely nothing to change that. In fact, it seems unlikely that it will do anything other than keep on top of what harmful misinformation is being spread, so as to be able to effectively counter it.
All the proof anyone needs that this Disinformation Governance Board is not what Carlson, Rubio and others are saying it is ... is the fact they are saying it in the first place. If they legitimately thought that there was any chance they would be gunned down by DHS agents where they stand for spreading lies — or as they call them, "truths" — there is no goddamned way they'd be out here taking one for the team and putting their own lives at risk. They only spread these lies because they know they'll get away with it.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse