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.
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.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.