House Republicans clamored Wednesday to disband the Biden administration’s Disinformation Governance Board as the Senate confirmed Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission — giving the regulatory body a Democratic majority.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) led condemnation of the board hours before Senate Republicans tried in vain to block Bedoya’s nomination after businesses expressed concern about the FTC taking a heavy hand in the name of consumer protections.
“The president’s Ministry of Truth is just an un-American abuse of power,” McCarthy said. “It’s a scheme conjured up by Washington Democrats to grant themselves the authority to control free speech. They fear Americans having unfettered access to information because it will challenge the power that they want to have over people’s lives.
“They will manipulate the facts and discredit the truth when it’s inconvenient for their narrative,” he added. “Just remember what we saw — the Russian collusion hoax. We saw it with the Hunter Biden laptop when they knew what the truth was and months later, they finally wanted to come forward. And we saw it throughout COVID, when liberals discredited facts that ended up prolonging lockdowns and school closures.”
McCarthy also slammed the disinformation board’s incoming chairperson, Nina Jankowicz, who cast doubt on The Post’s reporting on documents from Hunter Biden’s laptop. The New York Times and Washington Post recently acknowledged their belated verification of emails from the cache.
“She championed government lockdowns, going as far as saying, ‘force away! And lock us down.’ And she actively worked and spread misinformation that now has been proven false,” McCarthy said. “And they want to put her in charge. This person has no business serving in government, much less [being] given a role to monitor information.”
Across the Capitol, Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie vote to confirm Bedoya, who is best known as a critic of government surveillance programs. His confirmation, however, breaks partisan gridlock on the board, which is charged with reviewing antitrust and consumer protection matters.
The US Chamber of Commerce had urged senators to tap the brakes on Bedoya’s nomination, expressing concern that “the FTC is currently considering several initiatives that would impose burdens on business, including bans on exclusive contracts, non-compete clauses, and personalized online advertising.”
The office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment about the Republican press conference attacking the disinformation board.
Republicans aren’t able to defund the board without Democratic support. But the board is expected to be a key target if the GOP wins the midterm elections in November.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) warned that “some of the same people that would be in charge of the Ministry of Disinformation were some of the people trying to keep schools shut down when the data too early on said it’s harming kids.”
Scalise also mentioned the lab leak theory explaining the origins of COVID-19. Facebook banned discussion of the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s possible role in the pandemic until mid-2021 after government officials including Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was an unfounded conspiracy theory. The theory later gained broad credibility, including from US spy agencies, as one of two possible explanations for the pandemic’s origin.
“We’ve been calling for a hearing on the origins of COVID for over a year. And Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi — all the Soviet-style leaders here in Washington — will not let that debate go forward,” Scalise said. “But again, if we’re talking about a Ministry of Disinformation, did you know it was people in the Biden administration that were saying if you suggested that COVID started in the lab in Wuhan, that you were promoting a conspiracy theory? People in the CDC actually said that.”
“If they don’t like the facts, they want to shut down speech,” Scalise added. “And that’s not only unconstitutional, it’s un-American, and we need to defund it.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, rattled off an array of additional disinformation charges against Democrats.
“The biggest purveyor of disinformation is the government. [Former FBI Director James] Comey [and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe told us the [Steele] dossier was real. Democrats told us in the summer of 2020 that rioters and looters were peaceful protesters and 51 former government officials in the fall of 2020 — in the run up to our most important election — 51 former government intelligence officials, including six CIA directors, told us the Hunter Biden story wasn’t true. And we know that’s baloney because six weeks ago, the Washington Post said ‘Oh, it is true,’” Jordan said.
“Joe Biden said that he would never impose a [vaccine] mandate. Well, he did — so much so that the Supreme Court had to tell him it was unconstitutional. Dr. Fauci said it didn’t come from a lab. Sure looks like it did. Dr. Fauci says it wasn’t gain of function research. Sure looks like it was. Dr. Fauci said our money wasn’t used — American tax dollars — wasn’t used in the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. Yes, it was. The head of the CDC said the vaccinated couldn’t get it. The head of the CDC said the vaccinated couldn’t transmit it. And of course they’ve been all over the place: They said no mask, one mask, two masks, one mask, no mask, back to one mask, now we’re finally back to normal.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki last week insisted that the board, whose remit remains poorly defined, would merely continue anti-disinformation work underway during the Trump administration. She highlighted the work of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Then-President Trump fired CISA’s director, Chris Krebs, in November 2020 for contradicting his claims about voter fraud.
“It’s continuing work that was done by CISA back to 2020,” Psaki insisted. “The mandate is not to adjudicate what is true or false online or otherwise. It will operate in a nonpartisan and apolitical manner. It’s basically meant to coordinate a lot of the ongoing work that is happening.”
Psaki added, “The focus is on disinformation that threatens the homeland — as I noted, which is things like things that would incite violent extremism, you know, human traffickers and other transnational criminal organizations, any efforts at malign foreign influence, anything that would endanger individuals during emergencies.”