Monday, July 4, 2022

Douglas Andrews: Straight-Faced Obama Dishes on ‘Disinformation’

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First, let’s dispense with the euphemism known as “disinformation.” After all, we already have a much straighter and more succinct word for it: lie. Think about it: Any attempt to spread disinformation is an attempt to lie.

Second, let’s consider a just-concluded one-day symposium at Stanford University, titled “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Information Realm.” (Yeah, we know: It’s a republic, not a democracy.) The event was cohosted by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and, conveniently, the Obama Foundation. And the keynote speaker was … none other than Barack Obama himself, the author of PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2013.

So, Barry O, the “You-Can-Keep-Your-Plan” Kid, was the guy they chose above all others to talk about disinformation. But why? Was Baghdad Bob unavailable? (No, there’s no truth to the rumor that Joe Biden keynoted a previous event on the scourge of influence-peddling in politics, and Bill Clinton one on the perils of sexual harassment in the workplace.)

National Review’s Michael Brendan Dougherty summed it up pretty well when he said, “In his speech on ‘disinformation,’ the former president was vague, self-serving, and contradictory.” Who besides Obama, for example, could point out that this “digital information realm” had brought about his own scintillating election, but had also delivered us the dreaded Orange Man?

“Like so many other progressives,” writes Dougherty, “what Obama seeks to restore is the near-monopoly liberals once had on the information space. He hearkened back repeatedly to the benefits of the old media system, controlled by three networks. I’m not surprised that Obama longs for the country to have a shared set of facts put forth by men like Dan Rather.”

We remember Dan Rather, of course — he of that “fake but accurate” Memogate hit job on George W. Bush just before the 2004 presidential election. Yep, those were the days.

More recently, though, we remember Benghazi and the lengths that Obama and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, went to in order to convince us that the attack on that compound was due to — cue Susan Rice on the Sunday talk shows — “a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo” rather than a thoroughly planned attack that caught the administration with its pants down on the anniversary of 9/11.

We also remember IRS hatchet girl Lois Lerner misinforming us about her organization’s role in hounding and harassing and denying Americans their right to organize politically, then taking the Fifth rather than confirming what we already knew about her boss having sicced his IRS and FBI and ATF on countless private American citizens.

And we remember Obama firing Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the most effective intel officer of his generation, for having embarrassed Obama by refusing to go along with his Big Lie that our murderous ISIS enemy had been defeated.

And we certainly remember Spygate, the Obama-era scheme whose dirty Russian disinformation dossier and whose myriad lies are still being uncovered six years after the fact by Special Counsel John Durham.

And we remember the run-up to the 2020 election, when, as Daugherty puts it, “a news story unfavorable to the Democratic candidate came to light, 50 unnamed retired intel officers — and Obama’s former CIA chief — could sign a letter saying that the story seemed like disinformation to them and quickly burn it in a digital memory hole until after the election.”

“What does still nag at me though,” said Obama unironically, “was my failure to fully appreciate at the time just how susceptible we had become to lies and conspiracy theories, despite having spent years being a target of disinformation myself. … As the world’s leading democracy, we have to set a better example.”

To which we say: You’re tellin’ us, Baghdad Barack.

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