FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared on Capitol Hill this week with the obvious goal of countering the GOP narrative that the bureau has become fundamentally politicized under his watch.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, however, his critics appear to have even more evidence to justify such concerns.
During one line of questioning by U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Wray was asked about the FBI’s controversial efforts to censor supposed disinformation on social media.
“The evidence shows that you, your agency, the people that directly report to you, suppressed conservative-leaning free speech about topics like the [Hunter Biden] 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,” the lawmaker said.
Asserting that the FBI coerced social media platforms into removing posts, seemingly based on political motivations, Johnson asked Wray directly to provide a definition for the word disinformation.
“What I can tell you is that our focus is not on disinformation, broadly speaking,” Wray replied, ignoring the clear subject of Johnson’s question.
The effort to evade this question sparked a real-time backlash among many in the media, including independent journalist Glenn Greenwald.
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 bullshit, concocted term with no fixed meaning.
That's what gives it its power (like "terrorism"): https://t.co/Qhq6CNd2Qr
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) July 12, 2023
He argued that the word, along with several others commonly used by leftists, is steeped in confusion on purpose, thus making it all but impossible for Wray to offer a coherent definition.
“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,” Greenwald tweeted. “‘Disinformation’ — ‘Hate speech’ — ‘Terrorism.’ Their ambiguity is intentional: it’s what allows them to be abused.”
In the final days of the 2020 presidential race, dozens of intelligence officials signed a letter describing news reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop as part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
IRS whistleblower Gary Shapley has since poked holes in that theory, asserting that “the FBI became aware that a repair shop had a laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden and that the laptop might contain evidence of a crime” about a year earlier and had “verified its authenticity in November of 2019 by matching the device number against Hunter Biden’s Apple iCloud ID.”