By Jason Lemon
Former Representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, took another swing at President Joe Biden Saturday, accusing him of being a “front man” for former President Barack Obama and attacking him for his administration’s new Disinformation Governance Board, which critics have dubbed the dystopian name “the Ministry of Truth.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified Wednesday before a House subcommittee, saying that a Disinformation Governance Board had recently been created within his federal agency to fight the spread of false information online. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday acknowledged the board’s existence and said that Biden supported it.
Some Republicans, conservative commentators and other critics, such as Gabbard, quickly slammed the new board—comparing it unfavorably to the Ministry of Truth, a fictional government agency in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984.
In a Saturday morning tweet, Gabbard, who endorsed Biden in March 2020 as she ended an unsuccessful Democratic presidential campaign of her own, again reiterated her criticism of the new Homeland Security board. She conspiratorially claimed that Biden is actually not in charge of the country, instead floating the notion that Obama is calling the shots.
“Biden is just a front man. Obama, April 21: social media censors ‘don’t go far enough,’ so the government needs to step in to do the job. Six days later, Homeland Security rolls out the ‘Ministry of Truth’ (aka Disinformation Governance Board),” she tweeted, while also sharing a clip from Obama’s speech at Stanford University in California.
“Now, the good news is, is that almost all the big tech platforms now acknowledge some responsibility for content on their platforms, and they’re investing in large teams of people to monitor it,” the former president said in the April 21 remarks. Biden served as Obama’s vice president during the entirety of his presidency from January 2009 to January 2017.
“Given the sheer volume of content, this strategy can feel like a game of whack-a-mole. Still, in talking to people at these companies, I believe they are sincere in trying to limit content that engages in hate speech, encourages violence, or poses a threat to public safety. They genuinely are concerned about it and they want to do something about it,” Obama continued.
“But while content moderation can limit the distribution of clearly dangerous content, it doesn’t go far enough,” he said.
Newsweek reached out to the White House and Obama for comment.
Obama and Biden do reportedly remain close. The former president made his first visit to the White House since his former vice president took office in early April.
“Mr. President, welcome back to the White House, man. It feels like the good old days. Being here with you brings back so many good memories. We just had lunch together and we weren’t sure who was supposed to sit where,” Biden quipped during the April 5 visit.
Obama jokingly referred to Biden as “vice president” and also described the current president as an “extraordinary friend and partner.”
Then on Friday, the former Democratic congresswoman tweeted: “Every dictatorship has a propaganda arm—a ‘Ministry of Truth.’ The Biden Administration has now formally joined the ranks of such dictatorships with their creation of the so-called ‘Disinformation Governance Board.’”
Despite endorsing the president, Gabbard has regularly appeared on Fox News to criticize Biden and his leadership. She also posted substantial criticism of him and Democratic leaders to Twitter, expressing frustration on a range of issues that often align with those of the president’s conservative critics.
She also spoke at the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February. In her speech, Gabbard said she was fighting against the “Biden-Clinton-neocon-neolib foreign policy” ideology.
When she endorsed Biden in March 2020, Gabbard said: “I’m confident that he will lead our country, guided by the spirit of aloha respect and compassion, and thus help heal the divisiveness that has been tearing our country apart.”