NPR Host Still MAD at 'Cowardly' Biden Team for Folding on Nina Jankowicz Censorship Board

March 31st, 2024 7:59 PM

National "Public" Radio has a nasty tendency to believe in "free speech for me, and not for thee." Every night it airs All Things Considered, which fails to consider granting conservative rebuttals to all its left-wing propaganda. So it's natural it's all in favor of vigorous censorship of troublesome social-media speech. Remember its 2020 lecturing that the Hunter Biden laptop wasn't at all a story. They also complain that the 2024 election is too important to allow free speech. 

On March 21, NPR's On Point aired a program on "How disinformation 'sabotages America'" with MSNBC contributor Barbara McQuade. Host Meghna Chakrabarty went on a surprising tear about how the Biden administration was "cowardly" for discontinuing its "Disinformation Governance Board" and its crusading leftist chief Nina Jankowicz. Meghna is still down with Nina. 

MEGHNA CHAKRABARTY:  There are those who recognize our freedoms and our open society and are using those things to exploit us. For example, in this country, we all revere our First Amendment right to free speech. And that's true whether you're on the left or the right or anywhere in between. And there's a reason for that.

Free speech is what allows us to speak out against our government when we see something that we disagree with, or we see something that's wrong, or we want to advocate for something different and better. So it's a cherished right for everybody. But I think it makes the word censorship a powerful weapon. Because anything that in any way tries to regulate speech can be labeled censorship, and everyone immediately backs down from it.

The Biden administration had set up a disinformation agency run by Nina Jankiewicz, who is a disinformation scholar, and immediately the far right started calling it the censorship bureau, a censorship board. And so they closed it up. They closed up shop. That was a failure of the Biden administration.

I will say just because some critics are saying it's a censorship board. I think the Biden administration, cowardly, it was a cowardly act for them to shut it down. So do I blame the people for criticizing the administration? No, I actually hang the blame right on the Biden administration for that.

This overt critique of Team Biden made the MSNBC contributor uncomfortable, but she tried to play along:

McQUADE: Sure. But they didn't want to take the political hit. Because the word censorship is so loaded that they didn't want to even be accused of engaging in censorship. Right now, there is a case argued before the Supreme Court the other day. I don't think the justices are going to have any of it.

Based on their questioning, a lawsuit filed suggesting that when the Biden administration merely goes to social media companies and flags for them false claims about quack COVID remedies that are life threatening and says, "Hey, you might want to take that down. That's dangerous to public safety and human life." That is a violation of the First Amendment rights of the people who are making up these false claims about COVID remedies.

Don't mention that some "false claims" about COVID, like it likely emerged from a Chinese laboratory, were heavily censored, even though they are now considered legitimate information.

Unsurprisingly, Meghna said she's spoken with Nina "many times" on NPR, so she's mad her radio buddy got the boot, and then reached for the reliable "she got death threats" defense:

I completely agree with you about the pressure the Biden administration was under regarding its disinformation board.

And in fact, Nina Jankowicz, who was supposed to head that board, we have spoken with her on this show many times, and one of the times was not long after the administration shut down that disinformation board, and she made it clear that one of the reasons was she was, speaking of threats that you mentioned earlier, Barbara, she was receiving direct threats, which were definitely a danger to her safety, her being and her family. So it wasn't just like people screaming on social media.

There was adequate concern that her life could be in danger, and I don't want to dismiss that. I want to repeat that. That, in and of itself, it makes sense that anyone would step back from that. At the same time, you're exactly right when we don't necessarily want to blame the Biden administration for all the disinformation in our information ecosystem now. But simultaneously, and I respectfully say this, no one expects Donald Trump to step back from the disinformation carnival that he's been powering around the United States for the past many years, that's just not going to happen.

No one expects all the foreign actors who are using disinformation to influence American thought. They're not going to step back from it either. All that's left for us who care deeply about a functioning American democracy is to expect more of the people in power who do want to protect democracy.

And I just wanted to offer that to you as the reason why I do look to the Biden administration to try to do more. They have all the power right now in terms of proposing new legislation or cases that they want to bring to court, et cetera. So I wanted to hear what you thought about that is it not fair to expect more from people like, like you and me, like you said, like the Biden administration, even people at the state level who have a place in our society.

To do more, to say more about protecting democracy.

McQUADE: Yeah, I'd like to see some of this come from Congress in terms of initiating legislation.

CHAKRABARTI: Congress, yes.

McQUADE: Where Joe Biden is, I think, vulnerable is the fact that Donald Trump is also his political rival. And so anything that he offers in an effort to neutralize Donald Trump's disinformation, I think it's spun as disinformation, as solely a political effort to neutralize his political opponent.

And so it makes it very politically fraught for him as a direct opponent of Donald Trump. But sure, I think everybody in leadership should be working against this threat. Because it is so great. I think it is something that our justice department should be working on. I think it's people at the federal, state, and local levels should be working on, because it is so corrosive to our society.