She's Baaack!

Robby Soave is among those noticing: Nina Jankowicz, Disinformation Czar, Is Back in Action.

In a recent newsletter, I fretted that disinformation experts keep failing upward into ever greater positions of prominence, even when their underlying research comes under serious scrutiny. This week, The New York Times commented on—and contributed to—the most compelling example of this phenomenon: Nina Jankowicz, who has returned from exile to launch a new disinformation-tracking organization called the American Sunlight Project.

Jankowicz, readers will recall, was hired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2022 to head its short-lived Disinformation Governance Board. The dystopian nature of that agency's title caused widespread public criticism, followed by hasty reassurances from the feds that the board would have no authority to actually police speech. Nevertheless, Jankowicz became the subject of considerable scrutiny. Just who was this singsong academic entrusted by the federal government to distinguish truth from lies?

The American Sunlight Project has a mission page that includes "three areas" on which they promise to "focus" their activities:

  1. Expose deceptive information practices and the networks and money that drive them.

  2. Educate the public about the threats we face and the effects of disinformation on society.

  3. Engage with policymakers to return truth to our national discourse.

Alliterative! The mark of serious Effort!

But they haven't done any of that as yet. Their "Welcome" page is (as expected) full of Nina's self-promotion, dubious claims about the past, partisan gripes about the present (extremists!), and apocalyptic visions of the future. And there's the Project's "Letter to Congress" which is actually addressed to three GOP Congresscritters (Jordan, Comer, Bishop) from Nina and "Co-founder and Chief Communications Officer" but also (according to the Google search page) a movie actor. It's an insult-filled demand that the relevant congressional committees release "unedited transcripts and video recordings" of interviews and depositions. Uh, fine.

I strongly suspect George Soros is heavily funding the American Sunlight Project. Sunlight does not extend that far, though: according to the NYT story, it's a 501(c)(3) organization and "does not have to disclose its donors, which Ms. Jankowicz declined to do".

Previous Pun Salad mentions of Ms. Jankowicz: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here here, and here. She really was the gift that kept on giving, and I'm glad she's trying again.

Also of note:

  • But speaking of overrated… (and we were) George Will takes a look and likes (some of) what he sees: The leakage of universities’ prestige amid protests is most welcome.

    Do not emulate the Chicago politician who said he would not “cast asparagus” at opponents. Do cast aspersions at “elite” (just a synonym for “expensive”) institutions of what is still called, despite an ocean of contrary evidence, higher (than what?) education.

    Parents paying $89,000 for a child’s year at Columbia University might be nonplussed about the university’s explanation of its recourse to remote learning: “Safety is our highest priority.” Clearly education is not.

    Otherwise, the university, instead of flinching from firm measures to make the campus conducive to learning, would have expelled all students participating in the antisemitic encampment that panicked Columbia into prioritizing “safety.” Imagine how stern the institutional responses would be, nationwide, if the antisemitic and anti-American disruptors of education were violating really important norms by, say, using inappropriate pronouns.

    You will want to read to the very end, because the three last words in GFW's column are:

    … emotional support rabbit.