Jeff Dornik is a fringe Christian nationalist who this blog has written about in the past. He recently tweeted a defense of disinformation and against crack downs on disinformation. Matt Boedy who fact checks Charlie Kirk wrote a response to Jeff Dornik and refuted what he said about disinformation. What Christian nationalists like Jeff Dornik are doing is out right dangerous.
“There are three things in the world that deserve no mercy, hypocrisy, fraud, and tyranny.“
Frederick William Robertson
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV
Recently I saw a Tweet that was deeply troubling. It came from Jeff Dornik who is a fringe Christian nationalist. This blog did a post about Jeff Dornik about three months back when he was pushing both Q Anon and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s anti-Semitism. You can read that post in, “Jeff Dornik is Promoting Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Anti-Semitism and Conspiracies. He Illustrates Why White Evangelicalism is a Cancer in the United States.” Recently he made a case on Twitter that it was wrong to combat disinformation. You can see the Tweet below.
Matt Boedy a college professor in Georgia wrote a response to Jeff Dornik effectively calling out the Christian nationalist’s defense of disinformation. And with that I will let Matt Boedy analyze Jeff Dornik and discuss disinformation.
I have been writing fact checks of Charlie Kirk for three years. I also am a college professor who teaches writing (and therefore use of facts). I also was a reporter at a medium-sized metro newspaper for 2 years. I also have degrees in journalism, creative writing, and rhetoric.
All that to say, I have qualifications to speak about the rise of misinformation over the last few years and its persistence sans Trump on social media.
What we are seeing is not merely the debate over what facts matter or what is important to emphasize in a debate. We might then charge conservatives – and they are the ones peddling the poison – with cherry picking or laziness.
But what we are seeing goes beyond that. We are seeing two distinct worlds in the US, one the accurate-as-we-can-be reality and the other a worldview grounded in “facts” that are not real, opinions based on those fake facts, and a network of social media, TV audiences, and websites that call out the real world as desperately trying to lie in order to change America. In other words, the liars are saying it is the “other side” who is peddling in misinformation. Projection is the easy label. But the consequences are immense.
This specific work is what makes this poison all the more dangerous.
It is something I have called “rhetorical reversal.” It’s not a canonical term in communication studies or writing studies. I think I made it up. But what I am getting at is how conservatives who are labeled with some of our most powerful labels – racist, liars, etc. – turn that label back on their critics. For example, it is not those who have white privilege who are racists, they say, but those who peddle in critical race theory.
Enter Jeff Dornik, not unfamiliar to this blog. He aims in a new blog post to rhetorically reverse the concept “misinformation.”
For those who don’t know, Dornik is the founder of the Gatekeepers, where you can get your culture and politics news from a “biblical worldview,” and editor at Freedom First Network, a collection of podcasts and posts about freedom and conservative politics.
In a April 20 post [connected to a podcast also on the page] called “The danger of the war on disinformation,” Dornik wrote this:
According to the Left, it was disinformation that led to the fiasco that occurred on January 6th at the Capitol Building. Now, to be clear, they’ve redefined the world “disinformation” to mean whatever doesn’t fit their narrative. They begin with the presupposition that they are correct, and then label anything that goes against their propaganda as “fake news” or “disinformation.”
As they say, there is a lot going on in this. First, Jan. 6th was not a “fiasco.” It was an insurrection created on the strength of the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. He and his campaign and administration pushed that lie for months and stirred the crowd that morning to go to the Capitol.
So, no, the “Left” has not redefined misinformation to fit the narrative “it” wants for Jan. 6th. The other sentences are just wrong opinions.
Dornik goes on:
The same thing can be applied to virtually every aspect of COVID-19. Think about it, the Left says that it’s disinformation whenever we cite the fact that it came from Wuhan, China or that face masks are useless… or even that there are serious side effects with the COVID-19 vaccines. That is all considered “false information”… despite the fact each of these are factually accurate.
I won’t bother with the Wuhan claim. But face masks are indeed useful and there are not “serious” side effects with any vaccine. [The few women who developed blood clots after the Johnson/Johnson vaccine do not impact the larger “side effect” evidence picture and the J&J vaccine is now back in circulation.]
Two of the most evidence-backed events or stories in 2021 and this guy tells us they are lies. With no evidence, no facts, nothing.
But most importantly, he does it in the guise of battling misinformation.
Clearly the mountains of server space spent publishing fact checks on social media and websites on these two issues alone has done little to sway this guy and whoever listens to his podcast.
Beyond the audience reach limitation, what is the nation left to do with those who not only peddle misinformation but aim to redefine it to fit their narratives? Especially information so powerful as to cause death and destruction?
Yes, social media companies and website companies and tech-based businesses can do more to stop misinformation, especially the kind that causes violence and harm. Which is why they have been more vigilant about misinformation concerning the pandemic and why many have banned Trump whose words fueled the insurrection.
But these liars have found that they can work around the mostly weak restrictions. While Dornik’s YouTube channel was blocked by the company, he also can say whatever he wants on his podcast and post a link to it on Twitter. Such a link doesn’t break any Twitter rules. He can interview an anti-vaxxer on his podcast, post a link to it on Twitter, and he has no problem.
We are seeing in real time the effects of misinformation about the vaccine. We may not reach herd immunity nationally or in the states due to people not getting vaccine.
To reuse a phrase Dornik uses on his podcast, this is the reality.
What can be done? National solutions are hard to come by. Legal ones, too. It will take organizations and individuals using their networks of influence to change the direction and impact of misinformation.
I’m trying to stem the time by teaching a class this Fall on misinformation.
Others can do their part. More can be done by the very organizations and groups who share audiences with liars like Dornik.
Dornik is a Christian Nationalist. In his podcast connected to this post, he portrays Jesus, like Trump, as an exposer of “fake news” and disinformation peddled by the elite and establishment. He connected that to today’s battle which he called a battle between good and evil.
Certainly if Dornik is part of a church he should be shamed by the congregation for his lies. If he is not part of a church, Christian leaders who know people who listen to his podcast need to publicly call for his lies to end. And those in Orange County who fund his operations need to have a ‘come to Jesus’ moment.
But Dornik of course is one man with a podcast. There are hundreds of him out there. And tenfold listeners. Voters and legislators and Christians peddling misinformation, whether to ‘own the libs’ or practice soulless “freedom.”
Who will persuade them of reality?
If not, are there better ways to isolate them?
I’m open to suggestions.