Prince Harry is joining the Aspen Institute’s new commission on disinformation

Anzac Day Service of Commemoration

I think I first learned about the Aspen Institute way back in 2002-03. The think-tank was name-checked constantly as a breeding ground for neo-conservative galaxy-brains who were like “lol let’s invade Iraq, what’s the worst that could happen.” Those vile douchebags gave the Aspen Institute a bad name, I think? Because the think-tank really does try to deal with big issues on all sides, and the Aspen Institute-sponsored programs and summits are very much akin to Davos. Anyway, guess who is joining the Aspen Institute’s latest commission? Prince Harry, that’s who.

Voicing concern about an “avalanche of misinformation” in the digital world, Prince Harry is joining the Aspen Institute’s new Commission on Information Disorder as a commissioner. Harry, 14 other commissioners and three co-chairs will conduct a six-month study on the state of American misinformation and disinformation. Journalist Katie Couric, Color of Change president Rashad Robinson and Chris Krebs, the former director of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, are the co-chairs.

The institute announced its Commission on Information Disorder in January with a mandate to develop “actionable public-private responses.” The commission will begin to meet in April and will hold a series of briefings with outside experts. Aspen’s plan calls for an interim report after about 60 days “that surveys and frames the information disorder problem, and prioritizes the most critical and urgent issues,” according to the institute, and then a list of actionable solutions and recommendations in the fall.

The list of commissioners, released Wednesday morning, includes prominent figures like former Texas congressman Will Hurd; Sue Gordon, the former principal deputy director of national intelligence; and Kathryn Murdoch, the co-founder and president of Quadrivium and daughter-in-law of Rupert. But surely the most notable name is Prince Harry, who has been in the public eye in recent weeks thanks to his interview with Oprah Winfrey.

“As I’ve said, the experience of today’s digital world has us inundated with an avalanche of misinformation, affecting our ability as individuals as well as societies to think clearly and truly understand the world we live in,” the Duke of Sussex said in a statement. “It’s my belief that this is a humanitarian issue, and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders. I’m eager to join this new Aspen commission and look forward to working on a solution-oriented approach to the information disorder crisis.”

The institute’s press release on Wednesday identified Prince Harry as one of three philanthropic leaders that will be a part of the project. The other two are Murdoch — who is married to Rupert Murdoch’s son James — and Marla Blow, incoming president of the Skoll Foundation.

[From CNN]

I think it’s interesting that the focus is narrowly on American media. Harry’s had a lot of experience with both American and British media and from where I sit, American media is much more accountable to their consumers and to their media companies. But the American media is still being influenced by disinformation campaigns and blatant propaganda as well. Harry will be able to speak to that, because he’s been the victim of similar disinformation campaigns for years. Plus, there’s a lot of overlap between far-right-wing propaganda and racist hate speech against the Sussexes. That VENN diagram is practically a circle. I’m really excited for Harry. Making deals, making power plays, making change.

Britain's Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex completes a trade as he attends the 15th annual BGC Charity Day, in London, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. The day is held each year by BGC Partners to commemorate the 658 Cantor Fitzgerald and the 61 EuroBrokers emp

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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94 Responses to “Prince Harry is joining the Aspen Institute’s new commission on disinformation”

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  1. Merricat says:

    Good for Harry!

    • Elizabeth Regina says:

      I am absolutely thrilled for him. As a recruiter is he a dream candidate. In terms of value, he brings at least a couple of million worth of positive PR to any business he’s recruited into. He also seems self aware, has obviously worked on himself and is willing to learn. He is very much at ease among world leaders and having founded a couple of global charities, he knows how to develop an organisation from the ground up and fundraise to keep them going. I am looking forward to watching him thrive.

  2. Thaisajs says:

    I work with the Aspen Institute on some privacy issues and they do an enormous amount of good work in this area. Chris Krebs, the former head of CISA who got fired by Trump, is leading this effort and he’s great. Honestly don’t know how Prince Harry landed there, tho? There’s no pre-existing relationship that I know of.

    Anyway, I’m sure it’ll make their zoom calls more interesting.

    • MsIam says:

      Well to quote Gayle King, “Prince Harry knows people”, lol. He’s been pretty vocal on this subject, he gave an interview to an Australian publication recently. So I would imagine that peaked their interest.

      • Cecilia says:

        Their time talk 100 was also focusses around the issues of digital space and misinformation and they’ve been to stanford to speak with experts about the topic. So they’ve been learning about it.

      • Elizabeth Regina says:

        I was just going to talk about the TIME 100 talk. I registered for Meghan but found his session the most valuable. I also loved the way he moderated that session. I think he’s found his sweet spot in the misinformation space.

    • Cessily says:

      He tried to work with in the system allowed to him with the British press, no one echoed his voice to at least try to protect his family. So when he returns as a power of his own making and unleashes on the British press (which I believe he is preparing for) I think Harry is going to truly come into his own.
      Congratulations to him for taking on the cause, I am sure he is hoping that the results of this will help people everywhere deal with toxic misinformation.

      • Lorelei says:

        Harry is becoming more impressive by the day! This is great. It’s not only an important and urgent cause, but it’s one he is genuinely invested in, for obvious reasons. He’s not doing any of this for photo ops or to “up his numbers” in some circular. He’s doing real work in an area he cares about and where he really might be able to make an impact.
        Diana would be so, so proud.

    • LaurieLee says:

      I work in a similar area, and this is a real deal group with real deal people. Not some vanity project, I recognize many of these names as well respected professionals in their areas. This should really be a gold star for Harry getting invited to join, even if they chose him mainly for publicity reasons, I don’t think they would have done so without expecting him to contribute a lot. This has got to be really good for his image and go a way towards dispelling all the nasty things the press has to say about his intelligence and potential for real impacts or making a real difference. Very cool stuff for the Sussexes!

    • LadyE says:

      Chris Krebs is extraordinary. I know a bunch of state level election officials (like they work for the SoS or Election commissions, not elected officials) who sing his praises. He did such an amazing job protecting and securing the 2020 election, particularly from foreign interference. That Prince Harry is working with him is hugely impressive. Mr. Krebs is a super serious dude and a real expert in this area. No 5 Big Questions survey happening here!!

      • Thaisajs says:

        Agreed. Krebs and his team did so much behind the scenes before the election to get states, the private sector and the feds together to combat potential cyber threats. I wasn’t at all surprised that Trump fired him. He was good at his job and I know he’ll do great stuff with Aspen. I still don’t know what Harry will do there but he’s in great company.

    • Lee13 says:

      One of the co-chairs appears to be the president of Colors for Change and I feel like they were recently brought into Archwell in some capacity? I think it was also just announced last week. Maybe that’s how Harry got involved?

  3. Sunday says:

    So will like 90% of the commission’s findings be to tell Kathryn Murdoch to push her father in law off a bridge?

    • MsIam says:

      I think we should start a Change.org petition saying that exact same thing, lol.

    • Lindsay says:

      LOL

    • Yoyo says:

      In not sure if her husband was the one that resigned from Murdock empire. If he did, that’s why she is there.

    • ElleV says:

      LOL! I doubt cutting the head off the hydra would make much difference at this point

      Someone I know worked with the Murdochs decades back and it’s interesting to me that Lachlan, who was generally thought to be decent and clever, flew the coop yet returned to the family fold, while James, the black sheep screw up is now the one opposing the monster their dad created in Trump. Rupert was exactly the macho, day-drunk nightmare you’d imagine, but one odd detail that stood out to me – he called his boys by these gentle, affectionate nicknames – like sweetheart or darling or something.

    • Miss617 says:

      Lol, came here hoping to find someone who had commented this exact thought because I knew there was no way that I was the first one who had it.

    • Emily says:

      Basically.

  4. MsIam says:

    Response to deleted comment

    • Bex says:

      It’s wild how disengenuous the people who complain about the amount of coverage of the Sussexes are. No one is forcing them to click on these articles, yet they’re upset? It makes no sense.

  5. whateveryousay says:

    Good pick for him. I think the American media is his focus since most of the hate they used to get on their Instagram was from Americans or those who claimed to be Americans.

    • Lorelei says:

      Agree it seems like such a good fit for him.

      Maybe the focus on America right now is because the entire world just suffered four (dangerous, damaging) years of Donald Trump because so many Americans are, frankly, too stupid to identify real news vs nonsense on Facebook. And an enormous part of the problem is Facebook itself, an American company. (I am totally just speculating here!)

      In any case, Harry certainly has personal experience with the toll these false stories take on people and how they can ruin lives. No doubt he’ll work as hard as he can in whatever capacity he is able.

  6. Snuffles says:

    I’m sure if there is ever a British version of this commission, Harry would join it in a heartbeat. But the current state of British media is complete enslavement to the Murdoch/Tory machine. They absolutely refuse to hold themselves accountable.

    But because the misinformation that is happening in America almost resulted in a violent coup of the US government, they’ve finally decided to do something about it.

  7. erni says:

    I love he becomes the real “Working Royal” as opposed to the other “Welfare Royal”

  8. LaraW” says:

    The British media constantly harp on speculation that Meghan wants to run for office but from given the recent news and moves like this: becoming commissioner at one of Aspen Institute’s new committees, Harry seems much more interested and incrementally getting closer to politics than Meghan.

    And the groundwork is already there. He already has strong connections with some key political figures, and he’s used to working in joint ventures with prominent government branches, eg the UK military. As well as years of experience being considered a foreign dignitary; he’s still a prince and I imagine that automatically opens A LOT of doors otherwise restricted from even well established politicians and ministerial heads of different governments. He occupies a very unique space that encompasses celebrity, philanthropy, has recently been named a C-Suite executive of a company that is possibly going to IPO soon, and most importantly, has a huge amount of political capital.

    Additionally, Charles is well known for working behind the scenes to further the interests of the monarchy. Would not be surprised if his son also picked up political savvy. I would also not be surprised if Harry ends up on the Board of Directors of several for-profit companies— even less surprised if he currently has many offers on the table and can pick and choose as he pleases.

    This is where the enormous privilege of being a prince REALLY shows.

    • JT says:

      This is a great point and one I had not thought of before, although it should have been a no brainer. People really don’t give Harry enough credit for all of the work he has done, and if it was spelled out as you’ve put it, other would see as well. Somebody needs to do a major profile on Harry encompassing all of his work for the past decade.

      • lanne says:

        I agree–especially to counter the tabloid fiction that he’s a dummy

      • Nyro says:

        He needs a Rolling Stone cover story.

      • Cessily says:

        Just a quick note on the “tabloid fiction he is a dummy” in articles I’ve read (past and current) I am appalled by how often he is referred to in statements as a not intelligent or “couldn’t even attend university” and even one article acted like his dyslexia ( if he really has it) is the reason he is sub par intelligence wise, WTH? Seriously these statements have been out there for years. Most dyslexics are above average in intelligence since they have to adapt to learn. As for not attending university, life experience, achievements, personalities, attitudes and ideas are all he needs.
        A degree is not intelligence I have known a lot of well educated losers.

    • Becks1 says:

      Excellent point. Harry has been meeting world leaders since he was a child. He’s comfortable around power. I think we are just starting to see the extent of his connections. I’m sure he has so many offers on the table that they are just beginning to sort through them.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Lanne ITA— in addition to all of the good work he’ll do, the pettier side of me is so happy that he’ll be able to dispel the whole ridiculous “Harry is dim” narrative they’ve perpetuated for so long. He’s not, and they’re about to find out.

  9. WhoElse says:

    Someone is definitely incandescent right now.

    • My3cents says:

      Yup. I sure hope he dosen’t outshine Kate and her struggle survey, but that would be pretty hard since she had that nice looking pie chart and all those professional pads, pens and all.

    • NiqGee says:

      I’m in the Caribbean and I can see the lights from here.

      • Lorelei says:

        I’ve found myself saying this so frequently lately, but TRULY, what I would give to be a fly on the wall each day when William wakes up to some new announcement like this. I’m surprised we can’t hear his shrieks of fury from across the Atlantic.

        Especially considering a lot of the PR push behind William has been focusing on his “statesmanship.” It’s so clear that that’s desperately how he wants to be seen, and, well, lol. Meanwhile his little brother is actually out there making a difference, not just shaking hands for the camera at Buck House.

  10. Lindsay says:

    I went to an Aspen Institute conference once in college. It was incredibly interesting and thought-provoking, with great panels and topics. This is a great move for Harry, and I’ll bet he finds the whole endeavor to be very intellectually stimulating. Harry seems to be relishing the intellectual stuff ever since he escaped the dumb-jock scapegoat roll. This may be an example of him outwardly upping his game because of Meghan, as he mentioned in their engagement interview.

  11. Mich says:

    American-owned and based companies are fully responsible for the disinfo that is happening on social media. The Guardian has a story up about how Facebook allows death threats against famous people as long as those famous people aren’t tagged in. Harry and Meghan have been subject to a lot of that. He is a great person to have on the commission.

  12. Myra says:

    Good for him. Disinformation is one of the tools to enable fascism and it can quickly escalate to violence and conflicts. It’s actually one of the most pressing issues of modern time and I hope more people can appreciate how it spreads, how it is used and who the targets are (also who benefits). Harry is really brave as I’m sure this will make him an even bigger target. Hopefully those who want to dismantle disinformation in the UK can use him to their advantage.

    • Lauren the Second says:

      “Disinformation is one of the tools to enable fascism and it can quickly escalate to violence and conflicts. It’s actually one of the most pressing issues of modern time and I hope more people can appreciate how it spreads, how it is used and who the targets are (also who benefits).”

      Myra, this CANNOT be more explicitly underscored, and you articulated it beautifully. It’s terrifying to witness in real-time, and his taking it on -in a substantial and results-driven way – really speaks to Harry’s integrity and quality of character (and also his intelligence).

      It also makes the rest of the “traditional” royals seem obsolete and belonging to a particular global society that no longer really exists, in my opinion.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Myra & Lauren, completely agree with you both. So well said, Myra!

        And Lauren, your last paragraph…the BRF must be starting to recognize just how painfully true it is. If they haven’t, they will soon. Harry is going to show the stark contrast.

  13. anotherlily says:

    A year ago the UK tabloids were announcing William as the nation’s new leader. He would be ”stepping up into a statesman role” ”supporting the nation” and even becoming a ”significant presence on the world stage”. None of this has happened. Instead it’s Harry who is recognised as a leader and who is making an impact on the world stage.

    • Lizzie says:

      This is what I came to say too. Whose your statesman now?

      • Lorelei says:

        LOL I just posted the same above about Will’s desperation to be viewed as “statesmanlike” before I even saw this thread

      • one of the Marys says:

        @Lizzie, ‘The Other Statesman’ ? I’d love to see that on the cover. William is probably ill from anger and high blood pressure

      • Emily says:

        Harry would have made a better king than Charles and William by miles.

    • Becks1 says:

      And this is Harry during a pandemic. Imagine where he would be now if the past year had been normal?

      No wonder the royal family tried to so hard to always hold him back. Harry unleashed is becoming something very interesting to watch.

  14. Petra says:

    It all goes to show how much the BRF held Prince Harry back from his life potential because he would overshadow 2 people who are merely waiting to be king.

  15. Charfromdarock says:

    He is in a very unique space in the world.

    I love that he chooses to use that space by continually trying to make the world a better place.

    • Lauren the Second says:

      Yes!!! This, exactly.
      What an amazing and desperately needed service. Talk about walking the walk…… I’m very excited for the good that can come from this, and I’m also terribly pleased for Harry, personally.

  16. rainbowkitty says:

    I bet the RoYaLs are seething at how well Harry and his family are doing. I hope they are, anyway.

  17. Victoria says:

    We stan a power couple who stays booked and not at a surface level either.

  18. TigerMcQueen says:

    As noted on twitter, it’s incredibly interesting with this announcement and the one about his new job at BetterUp (which, apparently, he’s been doing for two months now?)…is that there were absolutely NO leaks before the official press releases. Very telling.

    I’m sure not knowing what H&M are doing and not being able to leak and spin negatively is painful for the folks at KP the in the rota. And Harry’s willingness to accept this particular appointment is quite a barb at them all. Good on you, Harry.

    • Lemons says:

      @TigerMcQueen I mean, this is the real world. Businesses want to see their value increased and having leaks upon leaks doesn’t do that.

      It’s also very likely a part of their contracts so they become liable in court if information leaks out.

      Standard professional practices that can’t be respected by the BRF.

    • Lorelei says:

      It just couldn’t have been more obvious — as soon as they set foot in Canada, the leaks stopped. Completely. Overnight. We already knew where they were coming from, but that illustrated it so clearly to everyone else; it was never anyone on their team, it was the palace.

  19. Jen says:

    Going to face off with the Murdoch’s of the world ….

  20. Bettyrose says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never heard of the Aspen Institute but after reading all these comments I’m really blown away by Harry’s ambition/commitment to doing good works. This sounds a lot more involved than lending one’s name to a patronage.

    • They do good, non-partisan work, BETTY ROSE. And this project — as reported above —- has a definitive 60 days to produce an interim report. Sure, beats 10 years for a group of ‘unidentified experts’ to assist Kate in copying 5 generic questions from a child psych 101 textbook, then put them out as a survey (with a lack of standard survey filters to keep survey results legit). I guess it’ll be another 10 years of work before Kate and her team crack the survey results and DO something with all that feedback.

      • Lauren the Second says:

        Yep – it really serves to highlight the VAST differences between those dedicated to understanding ecumenical issues and taking concrete and scientifically standardized action to address them, and ….. well, the way you describe everything in Kate’s ‘process’ is so on the nose, it’s hysterical and physically painful to read in its honesty. I’m chuckling whilst trying not to bang my head on my desk.

      • Lorelei says:

        I was just wondering yesterday about the status of Kate’s groundbreaking survey. I guess they’re still “studying” the results (lol) so god only knows how long it will be before we hear about it again.
        Plus, the staff at KP is now engulfed in a sh!tshow of their own making and will have even less time to create busywork for her.

  21. Sofia says:

    Good for him (again)! Some people can try and still say “he wants to be a royal again!” but it’s quite obvious he’s leaving the “working royal” life behind for good

  22. Nina Simone says:

    Amazing! He really is the better brother.

    I’ve done work with the aspen institute and I’ve been impressed with the work they do, the people that work there and their commitment. Maybe I can meet Harry …..ohhhhhh

  23. Yoyo says:

    FREEDOM from shutter island.
    Every day Harry and Meghan are on the front page of British tabloids, I remember many saying they would be irrelevant, so British, we’re not going to watch the Oprah interview, 14 million and counting.
    The lamebridges had to give up Zooming, and start making appearances to get notice by the BM and they’re still a side note.

  24. Alexandria says:

    Yay now I can post. Keep winning Harry and Meghan! I’ve said it before. Mental health work has been in the spotlight in the past decade and it looks set to be even more important. However, the next decade will likely spotlight disinformation too. Harry and Meghan could be the next Bill and Melinda Gates in tackling disinformation and its effect on democracy and mental health.

  25. bitsycs says:

    You know, this may not have been how they initially envisioned splitting off from the royal family in January 2020, but I honestly think they’ll both be happier and more fulfilled like this, doing things that matter to them without palace oversight, living their best life. Their initial plan would have allowed for some oversight and continued palace directed work, which I think would have been good for the Firm (but they were too dumb, racist etc to see that) but probably a pain in the ass with a lot of frustration for the Sussexes.

    • lanne says:

      That’s what’s so damning to the RF for me. Had they had 1 brain among them, they could have played the long game–given Meghan and Harry just enough support that Harry wouldnt have initially noticed the gaslighting of Meghan. If they had a, say, 5-10 year Operation Get Rid of Meghan plan they may very well have succeeded. Because I don’t believe any career woman would have lasted in that stifling environment, no matter how much she loved her man. I’ll bet those racists were so panicky because 1) they’re racists and stupid, 2) they greatly under-estimated her, thinking she was no more than an empty-headed Briefcase Girl on a game show who “lucked in” to a role on an ensemble TV show, and 3) they thought they would get rid of her before she had any children

    • Kittylouise says:

      I so agree with you, and came here to comment this. It would have been a real frustration I think – to be half in and out. I think being fully out of the royal fold like this (as terribly difficult it has been for them) will enable them to do really constructive things like this independently. The courtiers and the ‘firm’ nonsense would never have stopped. They’re going to do good things, and I’m so pleased for them.

    • Lorelei says:

      I completely agree with you. I also think the situation would have become untenable for them as soon as Charles becomes King, leaving William is in charge of the £ with them essentially beholden to him. He would have done everything he could to make their lives hell, as would the courtiers. I’m so happy they got out when they did.

  26. WithTheAmerican says:

    Wow, he can do some serious good for the world with this job. A lot more good than dressing up in show masks and zooming keenness.

  27. Amy Bee says:

    I’m really impressed with what Harry’s doing now. It was probably frustrating for him to be forced by the family to leave the Army and then told he can’t work on certain issues or start projects before William and Kate and then when he gets to do work he has to include them in it. I think that’s what happened with Heads Together and Coach Core.

  28. Bettyrose says:

    Any word on what multi vitamin these two are taking cuz I’d like in in that energy level.

  29. Chelsea says:

    Harry’s actually worked with multiple people on this panel before. The Chair Rashad also leads the group the Colour of Change which Harry and Meghan worked with last summer as part of the Stop Funding Hate Boycott of Facebook and he also released a couple zooms with Harry talking about race and privilege. Dr. Safiyah Noble is. partner with Archewell and they set up a fund to help fund her work with UCLA on healthy online communities. She was also featured during that Time Magazine roundtable they did last year on creating healthy online spaces.

    It’s very clear that 1) they are really serious about trying to clean up the online world, and 2) Harry was being held back so much in that institution.

    • MsIam says:

      Wow, thanks for pointing this out. I remembered some of those points but didn’t connect the dots. I used to follow Color of Change on Facebook during the election.

    • Thanks for connecting the dots, CHELSEA. I watched their entire TIME round table and was blown away by the speakers they engaged with. Extremely informative.

  30. Lemons says:

    I love the one-two punch of releasing the BetterUp news yesterday, the DM running a story about Harry getting a “real job,” then the second release of this hire from the Aspen Institute. The royal rota newsroom must be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. While “The Other Brother” is releasing his own press, Harry is getting companies to do the type of move-making PR that is crucial in this day and age.

    He’s playing chess and they’re playing in the dirt.

    • Lorelei says:

      @Lemons ITA and the fact that the time difference makes it so much harder for the ROTA to even keep up is so enjoyable to watch 🥰

      “He’s playing chess and they’re playing in the dirt” LMFAOOOOO

  31. L4frimaire says:

    Prince Harry, policy wonk. Maybe he’ll be the one running for senator or governor one day. You never know.

  32. emu says:

    I just wanted to let you know that that photo of Harry with the two phones is adorable and I love it and want to see it accompanying every story about Harry!

  33. Betsy says:

    The deep irony of a Murdoch and at least one Republican who’s still parroting right wing disinformation (he’s tweeting about the ThE bOrDeR cRiSiS) speaking to disinformation is… not a great sign.

    But good for Harry.

    • Merricat says:

      Kathryn Murdoch has a good reputation. Who is the Q-inspired Republican?

      • Betsy says:

        I didn’t say Q inspired. Will Hurd has been pushing the GOP’s faux “border crisis” narrative.

        Kathryn Murdoch may have a good reputation, but let’s not pretend her husband’s money doesn’t come from decades of the family peddling misinformation. He stepped away, but it’s not like he didn’t benefit.

    • Merricat says:

      Huh, my research did not find anything like what you’ve described. Why is that? (The Aspen Institute is for open borders, btw)

  34. GrnieWnie says:

    Good for him! He’s going to be building credibility and getting a lot of exposure to research in the field. He’s not going to be such a sitting duck when the media go after him, because he’ll be able to wield some genuine knowledge. Excellent work. I like seeing this hustle.