Biden administration reportedly pausing controversial disinformation board

The board's executive director, Nina Jankowicz, at whom much of the criticism was directed, reportedly planned to resign.

Published: May 18, 2022 12:14pm

Updated: May 18, 2022 1:44pm

The Department of Homeland Security is reportedly pausing its recently formed disinformation board after roughly just three weeks, amid criticism and confusion over the effort and its leadership.

The suspension was reported first in The Washington Post.

The newspaper reports the agency made the decision earlier this week to shutter the board, which was followed by a draft of a resignation letter from Nina Jankowicz, who was hired to lead the board. 

Since the announcement of her hire, critics have pointed to online posts and other comments that suggests she has spread her own disinformation, including challenging the authenticity of a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, President Biden's son. 

Tuesday night, however, the 33-year-old Jankowicz was reportedly given the option to stay employed by the agency, despite her work being paused, possibly indefinitely. 

"Nina Jankowicz has been subjected to unjustified and vile personal attacks and physical threats," a spokesperson for the agency told the newspaper. "In congressional hearings and in media interviews, the Secretary has repeatedly defended her as eminently qualified and underscored the importance of the Department's disinformation work, and he will continue to do so."

Calls to disband the controversial board have multipied online, with critics deriding it as an Orwellian "Ministry of Truth."

Musical videos of Jankowicz have been circulated and mocked, as have claims about the goal of the work being done by the board.

Following the disastrous rollout of the board, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas acknowledged the agency could "have done a better job of communicating what it is and what it isn't."

According to a column by Washington Post technology and culture columnist columnist Taylor Lorenz, DHS staffers are concerned about the way Jankowicz was treated and the way the agency handled the issues.

"We're going to need another Nina down the road, and anyone who takes that position is going to be vulnerable to a disinformation campaign or attack," one staffer said.

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