Wray’s Evasion On ‘Disinformation’ Sparks Conservative Ire

In the heated environment of Washington, D.C., FBI Director Christopher Wray found himself in the crosshairs of conservative lawmakers and commentators on Wednesday. The contentious issue was his vague and noncommittal response when asked about “disinformation” – a term increasingly used in public and political discourse but frustratingly without a concrete definition.

A particularly striking critique came from renowned independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, who blasted Wray for not providing a satisfactory definition of the term. Greenwald tweeted, “The reason FBI Director Chris Wray can’t define ‘disinformation’ is it’s a concocted term with no fixed meaning. That’s what gives it its power.” The lack of clarity, Greenwald argues, is a strategic ploy, allowing those in power to manipulate the term according to their whims.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) was equally critical during the House Judiciary Committee hearing. Johnson pressed Wray to respond to allegations of the FBI suppressing conservative free speech on various issues, such as the origins of COVID-19, the effectiveness of masks, and the controversy around Hunter Biden’s laptop, among others.

When Johnson challenged Wray to define “disinformation,” the FBI Director seemed to dance around the question, insisting that the agency’s focus wasn’t on disinformation broadly but specifically from “malign foreign actors.” This did little to assuage Johnson’s concerns or answer his question.

Further tension arose around a recent federal court ruling on the FBI’s alleged suppression of conservative free speech. Wray maintained that the FBI was not in the business of moderating content or pressuring social media companies to censor. However, Johnson contested this, asserting that the court’s findings contradicted Wray’s claims.

Significantly, Wray’s evasive stance came after an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty, barring the Biden Administration and the FBI from most communications with social media companies. This ruling came after allegations of “targeted suppression of conservative ideas” by the Biden Administration and the FBI on social media.

These events underscore a widening trust gap between the FBI and the American public, especially among conservative circles. Johnson expressed during the hearing, “The American people have lost faith in the FBI.” With a mounting stack of perceived scandals and the injunction against the White House now in place, the question of how the FBI manages the public trust and its portrayal of “disinformation” may prove to be its most challenging test yet.

Ultimately, it remains essential that those in power define their terms, especially when they bear such weighty implications for our public discourse and the preservation of our first amendment rights. As Wray’s recent run-in with conservative lawmakers demonstrates, “disinformation” is too powerful to leave ambiguous and essentially undefined. Until the legal concept is tied down to a concrete definition, suspicion and mistrust, particularly among conservative Americans, are unlikely to wane.