Harvard University is forcing out the school’s so-called misinformation expert who has led the university’s research into issues such as “media manipulation” and “adversarial media movements,” the Harvard Crimson reported.
Harvard Kennedy School dean Douglas Elmendorf informed Joan Donovan, a noted expert on disinformation surrounding the coronavirus, white supremacy, and critical race theory, that she must leave the Ivy League school by the summer of 2024, according to the Crimson. Donovan, who joined the school in 2019, is no longer allowed to fundraise, and the school instated a hiring freeze for her projects.
The Crimson pointed to “tensions” between the expert and Elmendorf as the reason for the firing.
Donovan’s dismissal comes as so-called misinformation experts and professional fact-checkers come under fire for protecting Democrats from negative press, frequently calling for the censorship of damaging reports under the pretense of suppressing misinformation.
Some of Donovan’s work included a report blaming Donald Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and a book called Meme Wars: The Untold Story of the Online Battles Upending Democracy in America. Donovan’s work has appeared in NPR, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, according to her faculty profile.
Donovan, a frequent critic of Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership, tweeted that after she leaves Harvard she plans to “open up a lesbian bookstore that’s got a coffee stand and uhaul rental inside.”
The school is still committing to teaching students about misinformation, James Smith, a spokesman for the Harvard Kennedy School, told the Crimson.
“Harvard Kennedy School is committed to the teaching and study of misinformation and disinformation, and several faculty members are leading significant projects that address these topics,” Smith said.
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