The Left has given us a slew of buzzwords and phrases—diversity, multiculturalism, equity, white privilege, intersectionality, identity politics, social justice, critical race theory. The list goes on and on. Just when I thought the list had been exhausted, another entry has raised its ugly head: disinformation. No recent news story has failed to celebrate the latest calling card of the Left.
What is disinformation? Disinformation is false information that is intended deliberately to mislead or to obscure the truth. Propaganda is a form of disinformation designed to mislead public opinion. Fake news is disinformation disguised as legitimate news articles and meant to mislead the audience. Disinformation can be distinguished from misinformation, which is the inadvertent sharing of false information. The difference lies in the intent. If you share false information with me because you believe it is true, that is misinformation. If you know it is false but share it with me anyway, that is disinformation.
Disinformation is not the exclusive province of totalitarian governments. The US is bathing in disinformation whether we realize it or not. “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society,” wrote Edward Bernays, known as the father of public relations. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The manipulation Bernays referred to has re-emerged as leftist censorship. Conservative positions are attacked as disinformation and the purveyors are canceled. Here is a disturbing example. Big Tech has been criticized heavily for censoring conservative viewpoints on social media. A new bogus study from New York University attempts to attribute those criticisms to disinformation. The study alleges that conservative politicians and media outlets have received just as much, if not more, interaction on social platforms than their liberal counterparts. “The claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it," according to the NYU researchers. Fox host Tucker Carlson doesn’t buy it. “This so-called academic study was, in fact, paid for by Big Tech,” said Carlson. “It was funded by a man called Craig Newmark, one of the many Silicon Valley billionaires who paid for the Joe Biden for President campaign. Now he's paying for this.” So if you are one of the many Facebook or Twitter users who claim to have been canceled, “you may be spreading disinformation,” said Carlson. You see how it works?
The Left’s expansive definition of what constitutes disinformation represents an imminent threat to free speech and the rule of law. The New York Times has published a column urging President Biden to establish a "reality czar" to combat disinformation. “This ultimate-truth official would be responsible for dictating and mitigating the spread of information in the United States,” wrote Jordan Davidson in The Federalist. The new czar “could become the tip of the spear for the federal government’s response to the reality crisis.” Some have compared this to the Ministry of Truth from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. “The establishment wants a reality czar in order to crush dissent and control people, not to unite us around objective truth,” said cultural critic Michael McCaffrey. “The Biden administration doesn’t want to return America to objective reality, they want Americans to embrace the establishment’s reality—and those are two very different things,” McCaffrey said. “The 'reality’ is that the ruling elite are pushing the notion of rampant right-wing domestic terrorists and the danger of conspiracy theories in an attempt to conceal their crimes and stifle dissent, not to help objective ‘reality’ flourish.”
According to author Mark Steyn, the call for a reality czar reflects the leftist notion that every topic must have one correct view. “Whether it's climate change or Islam or same-sex marriage or transgender participation in sports, there is a settled view and once we have settled it we no longer need to debate," Steyn said. He lamented the fact that the idea of free speech is mocked by the Left as a "right-wing fetish." In the US, Steyn said, disagreeing with the official state position is now forbidden.
If you suggest—as I have, based on substantial evidence—that global warming is a hoax, you are spreading disinformation. If you so much as bring up the topic of election fraud, you are spreading disinformation. If you warn that Joe Biden’s intention to open our borders can lead to disastrous outcomes, you are spreading disinformation. For anyone who believes in free speech, this kind of insidious censorship is terrifying. “This is not just an attack on free speech,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “This is an attack on an entire movement of people with the intent of driving them underground—keeping them from getting jobs, having legal representation, and even cutting them off from legitimate financial transactions.”
If we can’t acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, the US is well on the way to becoming a totalitarian state. It starts with accusations of spreading disinformation and ends with a call for purging conservatives and sending their children to indoctrination camps. “If liberty means anything at all,” said George Orwell, “it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.