Disinformation and other information disorders: Psaki, Murthy, and two pings

Disinformation and other information disorders: Psaki, Murthy, and two pings
WaPo video, YouTube

The big news on the Information Disorder front this week would have to be Jen Psaki’s statement that the Biden White House is flagging “disinformation” on coronavirus vaccination for social media, so the social media platforms can censor it and be sure you don’t see it.

But we’ll get to that.  First, a ping that may seem shorter and fainter, but that actually tells us quite a bit.  Quite a bit.

Ping One

The Surgeon General, once and again Dr. Vivek “Banning guns is a public health issue” Murthy, published a document this week entitled “Confronting Health Misinformation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on Building a Healthy Information Environment.”

This ping will be very brief.  The document is 22 pages long.  Here is its table of contents:

Table of contents of the Surgeon General’s public health advisory on “Confronting Health Misinformation,” Jul 2021.

The entire document is about methods of combating “misinformation” on public health.  It stresses the importance of everyone pitching in to confront “misinformation” on public health.

There’s not a scrap of information about public health.

Not one.

The communication from Murthy is actually perfectly emblematic of the federal government’s campaign to alarm the American public about “misinformation” regarding public health.  The usual topic, of course, is information about the coronavirus and the vaccination program.

(Image: Screen grab of YouTube video)

But the campaign about “misinformation” never lists the points or subtopics on which “misinformation” is claimed to be infesting our public information space.  It never tells us what bad information is being called out, or what details and particulars of a counterargument refute that bad information.

It just keeps warning us about “misinformation,” and warning us that it’s being vigilant against same.

Of all the agencies of the federal government, you’d think the one that would clarify for us what evil information is attacking us as regards public health would be the surgeon general’s office.

But all Dr. Murthy’s text does is encourage us to follow guidelines for restricting our information intake and exhaust.

This isn’t a document anchoring a campaign about ensuring we have good information on a pandemic virus.  It makes no actual case for urgency or dealing with “misinformation” as if it’s a problem or a crisis.  To do that would require putting specific values on what we’re talking about.

Instead, it’s a campaign to condition us, generically, to accept mandates for thought and speech.

Just think about it.  The senior members and popular spokesmen (e.g., Dr. Fauci) of the Biden administration don’t give us actual information, or even point us to it, at least not often.  They just tell us, over and over again, to get vaccinated, and lament that we’re being stalked by unspecified “misinformation.”

Ping Two

Now for the Psaki soundbite on the administration flagging “disinformation” for social media. Facebook was the platform specifically mentioned.  With a nod to Ping One, we may first contemplate that, sure enough, Ms. Psaki gave us no hint of what the “misinformation” is.  (She used the word “disinformation,” which has a different and more sinister meaning, but little care is being exercised in the use of the two terms.)

That’s really a form of delinquency.  We’re entitled to know what the White House is calling “disinformation,” especially when it results in censorship of information shared on Facebook by American citizens with First Amendment rights.  If nothing else, Congress should get to the bottom of what the Biden administration is calling “misinformation,” or “disinformation,” in its cooperation with Facebook’s censorship project.

But a point made by a tweep on Thursday is the real meat of Ping Two.

Jen Psaki’s statement in the Thursday press conference confirms the substance and merit of former President Trump’s Big Tech lawsuit.

The premise of the Trump lawsuit has been mocked and derided since the announcement that it was filed.  Here is the opening sentence of Trump’s 8 July 2021 op-ed on the lawsuit in the Wall Street Journal:

One of the gravest threats to our democracy today is a powerful group of Big Tech corporations that have teamed up with government to censor the free speech of the American people.

Said Trump:

No longer are Big Tech giants simply removing specific threats of violence. They are manipulating and controlling the political debate itself.


Further, Big Tech and government agencies are actively coordinating to remove content from the platforms according to the guidance of agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. … The tech companies are doing the government’s bidding, colluding to censor unapproved ideas.


J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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