The Grey Zone
The head of the Joe Biden transition team for the US Agency for Global Media, Richard Stengel, has branded himself the “chief propagandist,” urged the government to use propaganda against its “own population,” and called to “rethink” the First Amendment.
Richard Stengel, the top state media appointee for US President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team, has enthusiastically defended the use of propaganda against Americans.
“My old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the chief propagandist,” Stengel said in 2018. “I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population. And I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.”
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 11, 2020
Richard “Rick” Stengel was the longest serving under-secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in US history.
At the State Department under President Barack Obama, Stengel boasted that he “started the only entity in government, non-classified entity, that combated Russian disinformation.” That institution was known as the Global Engagement Center, and it amounted to a massive vehicle for advancing US government propaganda around the world.
A committed crusader in what he openly describes as a global “information war,” Stengel has proudly proclaimed his dedication to the carefully management of the public’s access to information.
Stengel outlined his worldview in a book he published this June, entitled “Information Wars: How We Lost the Global Battle Against Disinformation and What We Can Do About It.”
Stengel has proposed “rethinking” the First Amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech and press. In 2018, he stated, “Having once been almost a First Amendment absolutist, I have really moved my position on it, because I just think for practical reasons in society, we have to kind of rethink some of those things.”
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 12, 2020
The Biden transition team’s selection of a censorial infowarrior for its top state media position comes as a concerted suppression campaign takes hold on social media. The wave of online censorship has been overseen by US intelligence agencies, the State Department, and Silicon Valley corporations that maintain multibillion-dollar contracts with the US government.
As the state-backed censorship dragnet expands, independent media outlets increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs. In the past year, social media platforms have purged hundreds of accounts of foreign news publications, journalists, activists, and government officials from countries targeted by the United States for regime change.
Stengel’s appointment appears to be the clearest signal of a coming escalation by the Biden administration of the censorship and suppression of online media that is seen to threaten US imperatives abroad […]