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The past few weeks has proven that the freedom of speech enshrined under the First Amendment is under assault by our government. Independent Journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Schellenberger‘s March 9 testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government revealed just how determined Democrats in Congress are in silencing any speech that they do not agree with and any platform that chooses to disseminate said speech. Both Taibbi and Schellenberger are progressive Democrats who voted for Joe Biden. Yet, because they hold the First Amendment and truth as a higher standard than political agendas and allegiances, they have been maligned and targeted as disinformation agents.
The latest “free speech absolutist” talking point is that “disinformation expertise doesn’t exist.” That’s nonsense, of course. Disinfo comprises propaganda, manipulation, extremism, conspiracy theories, and political agitation. All of which are legitimate fields of study.
— Mike Rothschild (no relation) (@rothschildmd) March 10, 2023
This is being further proven with the release of the J6 footage to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, and the meltdown that has ensued over information that, 1) should have been released two years ago; and, 2) further cements the government’s complicity in suppressing civil liberties.
But the news of late is signaling a change of direction at the breeding ground for these schools of thought. The dean of the esteemed Harvard University Kennedy School has decided to shutter the doors on a program that supposedly researched and documented disinformation. The Harvard Crimson seems very unhappy about it, as it reports:
Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf is forcing out online misinformation expert Joan M. Donovan from her role at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and ending her research project, according to three HKS staff members with knowledge of the situation.
Interesting choice of words. I would say that Donovan was not forced out, but had simply surpassed her usefulness. After all, if you have not researched, defined, and set up parameters for tackling this so-called misinformation over the past eight years, is there any reason to keep directing more money and more research toward that goal?
I guess even Harvard feels it doesn’t have money to burn.
Donovan was told she has until summer 2024 to end the Technology and Social Change project and depart from her role at HKS, according to the staff members. Donovan, who is not a tenure-track professor, has led the project since its inception in 2019 and serves as the Shorenstein Center’s research director. Donovan has also taught at HKS as an adjunct lecturer in public policy.
In addition, Donovan was told her prominence at the school led Elmendorf to end her time at the Shorenstein Center, two HKS staff members said.
According to the Crimson, Dr. Donovan is quite popular as a “misinformation expert” on the campus, and it is her “prominence” that caused Dean Elmendorf to remove her program. Donovan has written a book about how memes are shaping democracy and harmful ideologies, and since being relieved of her director position, she does podcasts and the think tank lecture circuit to continue to discuss the damaging effects of memes and misinformation.
Listen to meeee https://t.co/cwjAsLla0h
— Joan Donovan, PhD (@BostonJoan) March 10, 2023
A spokesperson for the Kennedy School had a different take than the Crimson.
HKS spokesperson James F. Smith confirmed in an emailed statement that the project is ending.
“The Technology and Social Change project is winding down — through an extended transition — because it does not have intellectual and academic leadership by a full HKS faculty member, as required of all long-term research and outreach projects at HKS,” Smith wrote.
As part of the School’s decision to end the Technology and Social Change project, Donovan is not allowed to raise new funding, according to the three HKS staff members. The project is also facing a hiring freeze and spending constraints on existing funding, the staff members said.
Not allowed to fundraise? Yeah, that’s the nail in the coffin on this one. To Donovan’s credit, she refused to comment on the matter.
Here’s the interesting thing. Dean Elmendorf is using an oversight and financial angle as an excuse to close this project and move it out of the Kennedy School budget. In a backward way, they are saying this push targeting average Americans under the guise of rooting out misinformation and disinformation is too hot to handle and affecting the bottom line: Harvard’s coffers and its reputation. Cowardly, but it serves its purpose. Another institution may welcome Donovan and her work, but in the meantime, she’ll no doubt continue to teach her adjunct classes and sing for her supper on the lecture/podcast circuit.
Speaking of singing, former Disinformation Czarina Nina Jankowicz was “extremely disturbed” about this news. If you recall, Jankowicz “resigned” when the Biden administration received pushback on its Disinformation Governance Board and Jankowicz’ nuttery that she pretended was credible policy. Frankly, Donovan should be pissed at Jankowicz, as it is the heat and attention brought to her and her wannabe Broadway disinformation delivery that probably made a project for “Technology and Social Change” appear a losing proposition for Harvard.
Extremely disturbed about this and the treatment of @BostonJoan.
If government and academic institutions won’t act as a bulwark of the rapid erosion of fact-based discourse in the United States, who will? https://t.co/Q8gXg0Fep9
— Nina Jankowicz (@wiczipedia) February 3, 2023
Meanwhile in Florida, Chris Rufo has led the fight against the divisive agendas of CRT, DEI, and all the acronym mafias seeking to undermine children and the institutions where they learn with critical theory’s Marxist indoctrination. Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Rufo and several others to the board of trustees for the New College of Florida, and part of Rufo’s and his colleagues’ first duty was backing the removal of the college’s “Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence.” With no department from which to run a DEI program, college president Richard Corcoran fired its director. There was no song and dance or excuses about oversight and finances. DEI Director Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez was simply given zir walking papers.
New College of Florida has fired its former DEI director, Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez (“ze/zir”), after abolishing her department. Rosario-Hernandez lashed out at me in the Washington Post, but I wish her well and hope she uses the opportunity to develop useful skills. pic.twitter.com/qd6fdr7OyV
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) March 11, 2023
From the WaPo interview:
Rosario-Hernandez spoke with The Washington Post about zir recent termination and what it may say about the debate over college diversity efforts in Florida and across the nation. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Well, this promises to be fun… but not for zir, who feels ze has been discriminated against and targeted because she is a Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIPOC) who also happens be transgender.
Make it make sense.
Rosario-Hernandez had this to say about Rufo:
I don’t think he even knows what diversity, equity and inclusion is. I see it as community. He sees it as divisiveness. … I see it as being inclusive. I see it as people of color having a seat at the table. I see it as queer people having a seat at the table. I see it as White people having a seat at the table — all of us coming at the table to make a better environment and better community because we all thrive and succeed when there’s different ideas at the table. I think he has one idea, and that is white supremacy.
Rufo chose to respond to WaPo regarding Rosario-Hernandez’ inflammatory statement.
Rufo responded to Rosario-Hernandez’s statements in an email to The Post on Friday. Rufo said he had done extensive reporting on DEI and had “an in-depth understanding of how it promotes racial division, scapegoating, and discrimination.” Rosario-Hernandez’s “false and inflammatory comments to The Washington Post,” he wrote, “are further confirmation that President Corcoran made the right decision” in terminating Rosario-Hernandez’s employment. Rufo added that he hoped this “period of unemployment” would give Rosario-Hernandez “the opportunity to develop real work skills, instead of fomenting hysterical racial grievance narratives.”
Ooh. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Rosario-Hernandez says she is investigating legal channels for a potential lawsuit and that she plans to continue her work because it is important. Most have no argument about what work she or Donovan chooses to do. But using taxpayer and educational dollars to fund these programs is no longer a workable concept. Whether the elimination is done quietly as in the case of Harvard, or openly and publicly as in the case of the New College of Florida, other institutions are probably investigating ways of removing them from the halls of their institution. Rufo has laid out the evidence that these types of programs only serve to create division, rancor, and in the recent troubles in the banking industry show, do more to platform rank incompetence, rather than encourage and advocate excellence and focused merit.