by Sharon Rondeau
(May 6, 2022) — On Friday “New School News” journalist Allison Royal interviewed a former Indiana public school educator, Tony Kinnett, as the face behind the Twitter account, “US Ministry of Truth” launched after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on April 27 it would open a “Disinformation Governance Board” reminiscent to some of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984.”
The account bears a round seal similar to many used by the U.S. government, and its Twitter name is “@USMiniTru.”
The Board will be headed by Nina Jankowicz, a self-described “disinformation expert” who received part of her post-secondary education in Russia and Ukraine. The Board, or “working group,” will reportedly protects free speech and other fundamental rights when addressing disinformation that threatens the security of the United States.”
As a “disinformation fellow” at The Wilson Center in October 2020, Jankowicz testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in a hearing titled, “Risks posed by misinformation, conspiracy theories and infodemics online,” according to Chairman Adam Schiff (1:41).
Jankowicz herself disseminated disinformation when she implied in a musical video that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani “lied” when he “shared that intel from Ukraine,” a possible reference to the Hunter Biden laptop story initially censored by the media but recently proven to contain incriminating emails regarding funds garnered by China, Ukraine and Russia exchanged between Biden and his father, Joe, who now sits in the White House.
In her book, “How to Lose the Information War,” Jankowicz states she provides suggestions for Western nations to take about “the threat of online warfare and the attacks from Russia.” Jankowicz claims that “what is at stake” is “the future of civil discourse and democracy, and the value of truth itself.”
The header of Kinnett’s new account states against a colorful backdrop, “ALWAYS WATCHING.” Its slogan is, “The United States Ministry of Truth, established by the Biden Administration to combat disinformation from political dissidents. | Oderint dum metuant. | пароди,” with a birth date of “1984.”
In less than two weeks, the account has attracted more than 240,000 followers.
At the time of this writing, the associated website, usminitru.org, is functional, but its store is “offline” with the explanation, “We’re trying to get a few things sorted out with PayPal & Stripe.” A YouTube channel contains four videos as of press time.
In a tweet on Thursday, Kinnett self-identified by linking to another Twitter account, @TheTonus, in which he revealed himself as a “Science & STEM Admin turned Edu. Journalist” and executive director of “The Chalkboard Review.”
“Arrest on sight,” the tweet states of himself as depicted in a photo with a cup of coffee. “Writes propaganda, rogue biologist.”
Royal’s Twitter profile states she is a “former TV reporter” who is now “independent” but with an apparent connection to New School News. Based in California, she has covered educational issues in Los Angeles and nationally, recent mishaps at U.S. food-processing plants, and a statute passed in New York State which she reported “has a new forced quarantine regulation. It could set a precedent for the entire country.”
Kinnett told Royal that early in his career, he was a “junior education policy adviser” to former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and that he went on to observe controversial subjects being taught in the Indiana public schools.
He designed the round U.S. Disinformation Governance Board “seal” appearing on the header using Photoshop, he told Royal. After launching the account, he said, “it just exploded.” As this story went to press, the account gained nearly 1,000 followers.
“Were you a big ‘1984’ fan growing up?” Royal asked at 4:34. “Yeah, so I always have enjoyed ‘1984,’ read it several times; I’m also a fan of several dystopian-style YouTube channels, content producers,” Kinnett responded. “I’ve always been a fan of dystopian genres in general, but this has been a really fun way to kind-of express that and create some fun content for people.”
In Part 1, Chapter 1 of Orwell’s novel, the protagonist, Winston Smith, was employed in the Records Department at the Ministry of Truth in London in the country of “Oceania.” “The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startlingly different from any other object in sight,” Orwell wrote. “It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Smith’s job was the “continuous alteration” of reported events which the Ministry applied “not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance.”
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date,” Orwell described the Ministry’s role, while revealing Smith’s private belief that all versions of a narrative were nothing more than “a fantasy.”
“In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record,” Orwell continued. “All history was a palimpsest” [Def: “writing material (such as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased”], “scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction. A number of The Times which might, because of changes in political alignment, or mistaken prophecies uttered by Big Brother, have been rewritten a dozen times still stood on the files bearing its original date, and no other copy existed to contradict it. Books, also, were recalled and rewritten again and again, and were invariably reissued without any admission that any alteration had been made. Even the written instructions which Winston received, and which he invariably got rid of as soon as he had dealt with them, never stated or implied that an act of forgery was to be committed: always the reference was to slips, errors, misprints, or misquotations which it was necessary to put right in the interests of accuracy” (Part 1, Chapter 4).
Each day, Orwell wrote, Smith and his coworkers were subjected to the “Two Minutes Hate” in which “Enemy of the People” Emmanuel Goldstein was said to have “engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared.”
“The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure,” Orwell’s story continues. “He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party’s purity. All subsequent crimes against the Party, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his teaching. Somewhere or other he was still alive and hatching his conspiracies: perhaps somewhere beyond the sea, under the protection of his foreign paymasters, perhaps even — so it was occasionally rumoured — in some hiding-place in Oceania itself.”
On that day, April 4, 1984, as Smith sat through the forced daily “Two Minutes,” “Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party — an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed — and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to the reality which Goldstein’s specious claptrap covered, behind his head on the telescreen there marched the endless columns of the Eurasian army — row after row of solid-looking men with expressionless Asiatic faces, who swam up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly similar. The dull rhythmic tramp of the soldiers’ boots formed the background to Goldstein’s bleating voice.”
At 4:58 in the interview, Royal posited that “The Ministry of Truth kind-of acts as gatekeeper or what kind of propaganda we can accept and what we can’t. Do you think that that’s what Nina Jankowicz is doing?”
“She’s already done so,” Kinnett responded. “In her prior work, she’s come out stating that Republicans are always full of disinformation; she’s claimed that things that have been objectively proven by third-party sources are false, and she claims that those aren’t real. She established early on in her political career that truth is very subjective, and she’s carried that over into a lot of her work at Homeland Security so far. So this is not a surprise; in fact, it’s a little awkward when a parody hits something on the nose.”