FBI Director Christopher Wray faced a scathing critique from independent journalist Glenn Greenwald on Wednesday following his inability to provide a clear definition of the term “disinformation.”
During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) directed a question to Wray, seeking a precise definition of “disinformation.” Wray’s response seemed hesitant and evasive, raising eyebrows among those present.
Johnson said, “The evidence shows that you, your agency, the people that directly report to you, suppressed conservative-leaning free speech about topics like the laptop, the lab-leak theory of COVID-19’s origin, the effectiveness of masks and COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccines, speech about election integrity in the 2020 presidential election, security of voting by mail, even parody about the president himself, negative posts about the economy.”
He continued, saying, “The FBI made the social media platforms pull that information off the internet if it came from conservative sources. They did this under the guise that it was ‘disinformation.’ Can you define what disinformation is?”
In an apparent attempt to dodge the question, Wray chose to sidestep by stating, “What I can tell you is that our focus is not on disinformation, broadly speaking.”
This response from Wray only added to the frustration of those seeking a clear definition.
Despite Johnson’s persistence, Wray remained firm in his assertion that the term “disinformation” was primarily focused on addressing deceptive activities perpetrated by “malign foreign actors.” However, he still fell short of offering a concrete definition for the word, leaving the question unanswered.
In response to Wray’s evasive replies, Greenwald tweeted, “The reason FBI Director Chris Wray can’t define ‘disinformation’ — even though that’s the basis for the FBI’s pressure campaign on Big Tech to censor Americans — is it’s a bulls***, concocted term with no fixed meaning. That’s what gives it its power (like ‘terrorism’).”
Greenwald further elaborated on the ambiguous nature of the term, emphasizing that its lack of a concrete definition was not an accidental flaw but a deliberate characteristic. He asserted that terms like “disinformation,” “hate speech” and “terrorism” lacked a fixed meaning and instead relied on the subjective interpretation of those in positions of power. This intentional ambiguity, according to Greenwald, facilitated their potential abuse.
There's a whole array of terms that have no real, fixed meaning except for however those in power decide subjectively to apply them, on an ad hoc basis.
"Disinformation" — "Hate speech" — "Terrorism."
Their ambiguity is intentional: it's what allows them to be abused.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 12, 2023
Greenwald said, “However one defines ‘disinformation,’ it’s beyond reasonable dispute that the FBI always has been, and continues to be, one of the most prolific disseminators of it. The same is true of corporate media and the establishment frauds they’ve christened as ‘disinformation experts.’”