This month, President Obama signed National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. The bill contained provisions from another congressional bill known as the “Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act.” One section creates a veritable federal Ministry of Truth within the State Department, known as a “Global Engagement Center” (Pages 551-553).
Its purpose? “To recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interest.”
Translation: To discredit anyone who contradicts the official state-approved version of reality and events.
Some of the Center’s functions include:
- Monitoring news overseas that undermine the U.S. government narrative.
- Promoting U.S. propaganda efforts through a grant program.
- Funding local journalism outlets to “refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.”
- Creating a “disinformation, misinformation and propaganda” database of unapproved articles and social media content.
It isn’t hard to see how this unconstitutional authority will be misused and abused. Naturally, the center’s director or some other federal bureaucrat decides what is “disinformation” and “fact-based” news. The definition is subjective, not objective.
Of course, the absurdity of all this should be obvious: who has spread more lies and “fake news” than the U.S. government itself?
Who can outdo our mainstream media when it comes to fake stories they later apologize for because independent journalists and bloggers embarrass them into doing so?
Who spreads more nonsense about U.S. history and economics than our own professors of these subjects?
It’s a truly upside-down world.
Imagine you say or write something the government center decides is “disinformation” or “foreign propaganda.” Imagine you’re targeted by your local media for espousing views the government will now pay them to denounce.
Better yet, what if some reporters and news outlets conclude the government narrative, including the one promoted by other media, is factually incorrect?
If unelected bureaucrats can decide what “disinformation is” and use taxpayer money to attack unapproved news sources, how long before they start separating protected freedom of speech and press from “propaganda” they’re authorized to censor and suppress.
Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge described the political situation well in a recent column:
The scene is now set for the US government to legally crack down on every media outlet that the government deems to be “foreign propaganda.
It is exactly the sort of censorship I depict in my novel, The Stringers. Instead of a Global Engagement Center, the Information Security Administration determines what news is “real” and which is “fake.” Rather than manipulating local journalism through a grant program, all journalists are licensed and the ISA has an officer in every newsroom ensuring the state narrative is protected before any article is published.
When I first started writing The Stringers in 2013, I envisioned the country creating anti-free speech laws under the guise of combating “misinformation,” along with some clever constitutional misinterpretation.
Suffice to say, I never imagined reality would bear so close a resemblance to the story.
If you want to know what your future might look like, pick up a copy of The Stringers, and read tomorrow’s headlines today.