Person

Nina Jankowicz

Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Author and Commentator

Nina Jankowicz is a left-leaning writer and commentator on international affairs, technology, and alleged disinformation who held a brief appointment as the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board, before stepping down amid controversy over her past partisan social media posts and the existence of the Board itself. [1]

She previously held positions at the Wilson International Center for Scholars, is the author of two books, and has provided commentary to major print and broadcast media outlets. [2] [3]

Background

Jankowicz is the author of How to Lose the Information War: Russia, Fake News, and the Future of Conflict. She has written pieces published by the New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, and other publications. She has also been a TV and radio commentator for “PBS Newshour,” CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” the BBC World Service, and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” [4]

She earned a master’s degree in Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College. [5]

Jankowicz has testified before the U.S. Congress, the British Parliament, and the European Parliament. [6]  She has sat on the board of trustees for the Eurasia Foundation. [7]

Career

After graduate school, Jankowicz managed democracy assistance programs to Russia and Belarus at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. [8]

Jankowicz had a Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowship in 2016-17 in which she advised the Ukrainian government on communications. [9]

Jankowicz began working at the Wilson Center in 2017, where she was affiliated with the Kennan Institute and the Science and Technology Innovation Program. [10]

She pushed the discredited theory that Donald Trump conspired with the Russian government to win the 2016 presidential election. [11]

In October 2020, Jankowicz said that alleged contents of a laptop belonging to Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, first reported by the New York Post, were a Russian disinformation campaign. The New York Times, Washington Post, and other mainstream media outlets later confirmed the authenticity of the contents. [12]

Disinformation Governance Board

In early 2022, President Joe Biden appointed Jankowicz to be the executive director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board. [13]

Upon the appointment, she tweeted, “a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.” [14]

During the time, social media videos of her performing musical numbers surfaced, [15] including a parody of a song from the film Mary Poppins that talked about misinformation. [16] Although most of the criticism of her came from the right, The Nation, a left-wing media outlet, also criticized her appointment. [17]

Jankowicz previously worked with StopFake, an “anti-disinformation” organization founded in March 2014 by professors at Kyiv Mohyla Journalism School to combat Kremlin disinformation. It later became an official Facebook fact-checking partner. StopFake was founded after Ukraine’s 2014 election and is funded by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy, the British government, and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. [18]

The Nation asserted StopFake covered up the existence of neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine. On January 29, 2017, Jankowicz hosted StopFake episode 117 about Russian propaganda and Ukrainian volunteer battalions. The Nation stated: “Painting neo-Nazi paramilitaries with an extensive record of war crimes as patriots helping refugees, all while working with a ‘disinformation’ group that turned out to run interference for violent neo-Nazi formations—that’s the experience Biden’s new disinformation czar brings to the table.” [19]

In May 2022, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was pausing the board for 75 days, just three weeks after publicly announcing it. After the announcement, Jankowicz stepped down. [20]

After resigning, she told MSNBC: “Every characterization of the board that you heard up until now has been incorrect, and frankly, it’s kind of ironic that the board itself was taken over by disinformation when it was meant to fight it.” [21]

References

  1. Roche, Darragh. “Who Is Nina Jankowicz? Head of Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board.” Newsweek. April 28, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/who-nina-jankowicz-head-joe-biden-disinformation-governance-board-1701677 ^
  2. “Nina Jankowicz.” Wilson Center. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/nina-jankowicz ^
  3. “Nina Jankowicz.” Wilson Center. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/nina-jankowicz ^
  4. “About.” Nina Jankowicz. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://wiczipedia.com/about-2/ ^
  5. “Nina Jankowicz.” Wilson Center. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/nina-jankowicz ^
  6. “About.” Nina Jankowicz. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://wiczipedia.com/about-2/ ^
  7. “About.” Nina Jankowicz. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://wiczipedia.com/about-2/ ^
  8. “Nina Jankowicz.” PRSA.  Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.prsa.org/person/jankowicz-nina ^
  9. “Nina Jankowicz.” Wilson Center. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/nina-jankowicz ^
  10. “About.” Nina Jankowicz. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://wiczipedia.com/about-2/ ^
  11. Dunleavy, Jerry. “Biden disinformation chief Nina Jankowicz pushed Trump-Russia collusion claims.” The Washington Examiner. May 9, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/biden-disinfo-chief-nina-jankowicz-pushed-trump-russia-collusion-claims ^
  12. Roche, Darragh. “Who Is Nina Jankowicz? Head of Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board.” Newsweek. April 28, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/who-nina-jankowicz-head-joe-biden-disinformation-governance-board-1701677 ^
  13. Roche, Darragh. “Who Is Nina Jankowicz? Head of Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board.” Newsweek. April 28, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/who-nina-jankowicz-head-joe-biden-disinformation-governance-board-1701677 ^
  14. Roche, Darragh. “Who Is Nina Jankowicz? Head of Joe Biden’s Disinformation Governance Board.” Newsweek. April 28, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.newsweek.com/who-nina-jankowicz-head-joe-biden-disinformation-governance-board-1701677 ^
  15. Westwood, Sarah. “Disinformation chief Nina Jankowicz joins growing list of botched Biden picks.” The Washington Examiner. May 21, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/disinformation-chief-nina-jankowicz-joins-growing-list-of-botched-biden-picks ^
  16. Pierce, Charles. “The Flying Monkeys Came Screeching for the Head of the Disinformation Governance Board Immediately.” Esquire. May 20, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022.

    https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a40062561/disinformation-governance-board-nina-jankowicz-harassment/ ^

  17. Golinkin, Lev. “Meet the Head of Biden’s New “Disinformation Governing Board.” The Nation. May 12, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/meet-the-head-of-bidens-new-disinformation-governing-board/ ^
  18. Golinkin, Lev. “Meet the Head of Biden’s New “Disinformation Governing Board.” The Nation. May 12, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/meet-the-head-of-bidens-new-disinformation-governing-board/ ^
  19. Golinkin, Lev. “Meet the Head of Biden’s New “Disinformation Governing Board.” The Nation. May 12, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/meet-the-head-of-bidens-new-disinformation-governing-board/ ^
  20. Bond, Shannon. “She joined DHS to fight disinformation. She says she was halted by… disinformation.” NPR. May 21, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.npr.org/2022/05/21/1100438703/dhs-disinformation-board-nina-jankowicz ^
  21. Shabad, Rebecca. “Disinformation head Nina Jankowicz resigns after DHS board is paused.” NBC News. May 19, 2022. Accessed May 25, 2022. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/dhs-disinformation-head-resigns-board-paused-rcna29578 ^
  See an error? Let us know!