Taylor Lorenz is back and she’s once again spun an incredible fable of harassment and influence out of that mysterious entity known only as “the far right.”
Who is this shrouded cabal? We don’t know, because Taylor Lorenz never really says. It’s just out there, in the ether of Twitter, controlling everything. Its latest exertion of influence is over the Biden administration’s catastrophic rollout of its Disinformation Governance Board, which has been put on hold, according to the 43-year-old Washington Post reporter Lorenz.
Lorenz claims the director of the board, Nina Jankowicz, the self-proclaimed TikTok Mary Poppins of disinformation, was a victim of a coordinated harassment campaign, orchestrated by nefarious far-right actors on Twitter. Thanks to this campaign, the Biden administration was helpless in the face of mean tweets and jokes.
What Lorenz and the Post fail to mention is that Jankowicz herself trafficked in disinformation on several occasions, revealing herself to be nothing more than a partisan bureaucrat. They also fail to mention that it was Senate Democrats who canceled a hearing where Jankowicz was scheduled to appear, after her controversies began to erupt.
However, it was just not the political right or even the ever-mysterious “far right” that took issue with the Disinformation Governance Board. Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, poked fun at the board in a tweet at Joe Biden. The Post‘s own opinion columnist Eugene Robinson — who, let’s just say, isn’t a member of the Proud Boys — wrote a piece titled “The Disinformation Governance Board is a bad name and a sillier idea.” (He’s no doubt since been denounced as a Nazi sympathizer by Lorenz in her mean girls Slack channel.)
Civil liberties groups also took issue with the Governance Board. Soren Dayton of the group Protect Democracy tweeted, “100% agree with this. This is sloppy reporting from @washingtonpost and @TaylorLorenz. Concerns weren’t just from the right. This is how journalism can make polarization worse while ducking the substantive issues.”
This was in response to another tweet from Jameel Jaffer, director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Jaffer tweeted, “This @washingtonpost piece should have acknowledged somewhere–perhaps even at the top?–that some of the criticism of the Biden admin’s Disinfo Governance Board came from civil liberties and human rights groups.”
Attacks on the board even came from the far left. The Nation reported that “Jankowicz’s experience as a disinformation warrior includes her work with StopFake, a US government-funded ‘anti-disinformation’ organization founded in March 2014 and lauded as a model of how to combat Kremlin lies. Four years later, StopFake began aggressively whitewashing two Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups with a long track record of violence, including war crimes.”
But Lorenz was not interested in legitimate criticism of Jankowicz or the board. She frames Jankowicz as simply another victim of a coordinated harassment campaign. She doesn’t cite any evidence of that coordination because doing so would require actual journalism and not simply passing off a Live Journal diatribe as serious reporting.
If the Washington Post wants to become the personal grievance blog for an online brand influencer who thinks she’s Bob Woodward, that’s their right to do so. But to write off legitimate First Amendment concerns from their own columnists and owner is purposeful malfeasance. The question for the Post is why they don’t seem to care.