Tag: taylor swift
Far-Right Media Still Pushing Super Bowl Conspiracy Theories

Far-Right Media Still Pushing Super Bowl Conspiracy Theories

Following months of right-wing attacks on singer Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce, far-right social media accounts continued to push baseless conspiracy theories about the singer — as well as the game itself — during and after the 2024 Super Bowl.

  • Right-wing media figures relentlessly attacked Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce leading up to the Super Bowl, eventually drawing criticism from some right-wing peers
    • Swift’s relationship with Kelce has been drawing right-wing ire for months. In September, Kelce’s appearances in advertising campaigns for Pfizer and Bud Light spurred anti-vax and anti-LGBTQ attacks against the couple. [Media Matters, 9/27/23]
    • Prior to the Superbowl, right-wing figures claimed Swift was a Democratic operative or part of a “psyop.” They also claimed that the game would be rigged for Kelce’s team to win and that a Chiefs victory would strengthen Swift’s potential endorsement of President Joe Biden. [Media Matters, 2/1/24]

    • Even some right-wing media figures started begging fellow conservatives to stop attacking Swift. Some figures recognized the absurdity of such theories, asking their colleagues and peers to focus on more important issues heading into the 2024 election cycle. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro said, “Guys, not everything you don’t like is a conspiracy.” [Media Matters, 2/2/24]
  • QAnon figures and far-right accounts accused Swift’s Super Bowl guest Ice Spice of being a “satanist” and “summoning demons”
    • QAnon account Shadow of Ezra claimed that Ice Spice, who came to the game with Swift, was “seen making hand gestures associated with Satanic symbolism while wearing an upside-down cross.” The account also said the Super Bowl was “nothing but a major Satanic ritual.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 7/17/23]
    • QAnon influencer Brian Cates said Ice Spice threw “up the devil sign with both hands and then does the double-hand collar lift to hold up the upside down cross to make sure attention is drawn to it.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 5/18/23]
    • QAnon influencer John Sabal (aka “QAnon John”) called Swift an “alcoholic harlot who likes to hang out with Satanists,” asking if “that thing next to her” was “summoning demons” with an “upside down cross.” [Gab, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 9/27/23]
    • QAnon influencerMJTruth posted a video of Ice Spice and Taylor Swift at the football game titled “A satanist performing a satanic ritual, while the drunken harlot gets hammered.” [Rumble, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 7/28/23]
    • Right-wing Twitter account For America posted, “With Chiefs down 3 how many more demons will Ice Spice summon?!?” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24]
    • Anti-vaccine figure Erin Elizabeth posted on Twitter, “Ice Spice who accompanied Taylor Swift to tonight's game throwing up satanic symbols while wearing an upside down cross.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 11/22/22]
    • Right-wing account End Wokeness said Ice Spice was showing “demonic hand gestures on the big screen” with an “upside down cross” and “not even hiding it.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24]
    • Former Fox News producer Kyle Becker accused Ice Spice of “demon summoning,” sharing a video of her touching her necklace. [Twitter/X, 2/11/24]
    • Real America’s Voice’s Ben Bergquam claimed that Swift was in “all black chugging while her friend Ice Spice wearing an upside down cross signs to the devil.” Bergquam called this “spiritual warfare” and asked God to “rebuke the evil and witchcraft of this generation.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24]
  • Other far-right figures claimed that the Super Bowl was “rigged” and the NFL is a “scam”
    • QAnon influencer Sun Tzu called the NFL a “scam” because it had announced “the address of the stadium in Las Vegas after Kansas City won the Super Bowl,” which was “333.” According to SunTzusWar, “Who has ever announced the address of the stadium of the Super Bowl? Just saying.” [Twitter/X, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 12/12/23]
    • “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander called the Super Bowl “totally fake & rigged,” adding, “Notice no grass stains.” [Telegram, 2/11/24]
      • The Biden Twitter/X page posted a Dark Brandon meme, and QAnon John said it was “signaling to everyone that the Super Bowl was RIGGED in their favor.” He also called it “direct comms.” [Gab, 2/11/24; Jezebel, 2/12/24]
      • QAnon personality Woke Societies posted, “Tell me the nfl isn’t rigged.” [Telegram, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 4/18/22]
  • QAnon figures have continued the trend of labeling Swift a “psyop”
      • QAnon John posted screenshots of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama congratulating the Chiefs and “Taylor Swift’s boyfriend” with the caption “PSYOP CONFIRMED.” [Gab, 2/12/24]
      • QAnon influencer Jordan Sather: “There’s more aliens featured during this game than Taylor Swift. Subliminal soft disclosure be strong. Prepping our minds for something later this year? Psyop me harder baby.” [Telegram, 2/11/24; The Hill, 6/15/21]
      • A user on the QAnon forum TheDonald posted a picture of Taylor Swift with the caption “totally not a psyop.” [Patriots.win, 2/11/24; Media Matters, 12/12/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

They Yap About Taylor Swift, But They're Telling Us About Themselves

They Yap About Taylor Swift, But They're Telling Us About Themselves

You don’t have to be a follower of Taylor Swift or a fan of professional football to notice the very strange crusade that so-called “conservatives” have been waging against them. Those icons of music and sport, as American as they could possibly be, are suddenly tarred on right-wing media outlets as secret instruments of a plot by powerful hidden forces – in the Pentagon, the White House, or somewhere in “the deep state,” whatever that means.

It is now possible to watch otherwise normal-seeming people on television, including several with their own nightly shows, spreading insane rumors about Swift and her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. In a calmer time, anyone who persistently shouted such lurid nonsense would have been a candidate for long-term residence in what was euphemistically called “a nice home,” without access to sharp objects. With deinstitutionalization, they are now paid astronomical salaries to declaim their fantasies on Fox News and its cable competitors. (This is considered progress.)

For weeks, the airwaves and the digital space have been aflame with attacks on Swift and Kelce, promoting the notion that these two attractive, talented, and amazingly successful people are not what they seem to be. Consider the recent rant by Jesse Watters, a primetime host on Fox News, who insinuated that Swift isn’t a legitimate musical sensation, but merely a tool propped up by Pentagon military intelligence for mass manipulation. Watters called her a “psyop,” jargon for a government propaganda tool or event designed to influence public opinion and political behavior.

“Have you ever wondered why or how she blew up like this?” he asked, questioning her popularity as a musician. "Well, around four years ago, the Pentagon psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset during a NATO meeting. What kind of asset? A psyop for combatting online misinformation." Of course, like so many other events reported breathlessly by Fox fake news, that never happened. It was just a figment of Watters’ monkey mind, which he tried to pass off with a deceptively edited video clip.

It isn’t hard to see what inspired the vile slagging of Swift and Kelce (who also committed the offense of getting vaccinated against COVID-19, just as all the Fox hypocrites did when the company required it). She appears to be a Democrat and a supporter of reproductive rights, an opponent of racism, and perhaps worst of all, a symbol of female power and independence. She has backed a few Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden in 2020 – and Republicans dread the prospect that she’ll do it again this year. Ominously, from their perspective, she has already prodded tens of thousands of her fans to register as voters.

Indeed, the right-wing loonies are warning that the Super Bowl has long been “rigged” for the Chiefs to win, leading up to a romantic Biden endorsement by Kelce and Swift. Pretty sick and, dare I say, un-American.

The craziness is so stupid that it’s almost funny. Even some conservatives are begging for it to stop, because they fear the political consequences of angering the Swifties, as well they should. But it isn’t funny at all.

What thugs like Watters are telling Swift is that she will be punished for disputing their authoritarian and misogynist ideology. Her adversaries have not only viciously insulted her, but circulated AI-faked explicit nudes. Naturally, Watters seized on the faked photos as another opportunity to mock and shame a female body. (Don’t you hope he gets a chance to meet Travis Kelce in person someday?)

Whether Swift endorses Biden or not, she has performed a great service, simply by impelling the worst people in America to show who they really are – and how their uncontrollable hatred poisons everyday life in this nation. Let’s not forget.

Joe Conason is founder and editor-in-chief of The National Memo. He is also editor-at-large of Type Investigations, a nonprofit investigative reporting newsroom formerly known as The Investigative Fund, and a senior fellow at Type Media Center.

Why Taylor Swift Is Now The Right's Most Fearsome Foe

Why Taylor Swift Is Now The Right's Most Fearsome Foe

While I was writing about the travails of online dating for conservatives, one stat stood out: “Looking at the 2022 midterm election exit polls, married women voted 56-42 for Republicans, while unmarried women voted 68-31 for Democrats—that’s a whopping 51-percentage-point difference! (There was a much smaller 13-point swing among men.)”

That’s why Taylor Swift is one of the biggest threats to conservatism today.

You don’t have to listen or even like Taylor Swift to stand in awe of her accomplishments.

  • Two-time Time Magazine “person of the year”
  • Eleven number one songs on Billboard’s Hot 100
  • Only female artist to replace herself at number one on the Hot 100 … twice
  • Forty-nine top 10 hits on the Hot 100
  • Two-hundred-thirty-two songs total on the Hot 100 (how?)
  • With her album “Midnights,” she held all top 10 spots on the Hot 100 in a single week (a first)
  • Only female artist with three number one albums on the Billboard 200 in a calendar year … twice
  • Thirteen number one albums on the Billboard 200, a record by a female artist
  • Sixty-six total weeks at number one on the Billboard 200, third overall behind the Beatles (132 weeks) and Elvis (67 weeks). Swift is only 34 years old. She’s going to eventually hold this record
  • Twelve Grammy wins
  • Her six Grammy nominations for “album of the year” tie her with Barbra Streisand for most ever for a female artist
  • Her seven Grammy nominations for “song of the year” are the most ever for any artist
  • Net worth: $1.1 billion (all of it self-made)
  • First female artist to reach 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify
  • Most streamed female artist on Apple Music
  • Fifty-six million followers on YouTube
  • Two-hundred-seventy-nine million followers on Instagram

And all that before we even get to her current Eras Tour, where her earnings are expected to be around $4.1 billion, with an economic impact of another $5.7 billion to the U.S. economy. Seriously, it goes on and on. Swift is easily the most successful female recording artist in history, and it’s not even close.

And she’s not just political, but she’s a liberal—and increasingly partisan one at that.

There are several major factors that affect whether someone is a Democrat or Republican, according to 2020 exit polls.

  • Education:The more educated a voter is, the more liberal a voter is. College graduates chose President Joe Biden 55-43, while those without college opted for Donald Trump 50-48.
  • Race: White people voted for Trump 58-41. Black voters chose Biden 87-12, while more than 60% of both Latinos and Asians opted for Biden.
  • Education and race:Tie those two together and the differences become more stark. Among white voters with college degrees, Biden won 51-48, while Trump won 67-32 among white voters without college degrees.
  • Gender:Trump won men 53-45, while Biden won women 57-42.
  • Age:Biden won voters ages 18-44 56-42, while Trump won everyone older than that 51-48.

It’s clear why Republicans attack higher education and why they seek to disenfranchise younger voters and voters of color. It explains much of their virulent misogyny. Throw in the marriage numbers from the top of the story, and the ideal Republican voter is a white, married male with no college education. And their biggest nemesis? A single, college-educated young woman.

And who does Swift speak to? Young, single women. And what does she preach? Personal empowerment and political participation.

In her song “Only the Young,” she preaches the gospel of political activism.

So every day now You brace for the sound You've only heard on TV You go to class, scared Wondering where the best hiding spot would be And the big bad man and his big bad clan Their hands are stained with red Oh, how quickly, they forgetThey aren't gonna help us Too busy helping themselves They aren't gonna change this We gotta do it ourselves They think that it's over But it's just begun

She has been cutting on the double standard she faces as a woman. This is from her song “The Man”:

I would be complex, I would be cool They'd say I played the field before I found someone to commit to And that would be okay for me to do Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to youI'd be a fearless leader I'd be an alpha type When everyone believes ya What's that like?

I'm so sick of running as fast as I can Wondering if I'd get there quicker if I was a man And I'm so sick of them coming at me again 'Cause if I was a man, then I'd be the man I'd be the man I'd be the man

They'd say I hustled, put in the work They wouldn't shake their heads and question how much of this I deserve What I was wearing, if I was rude Could all be separated from my good ideas and power moves

And they would toast to me, oh, let the players play I'd be just like Leo in Saint-Tropez

And … how about this diss on marriage, from her song “Midnight Rain”?

I was midnight rain He wanted it comfortable I wanted that pain He wanted a bride I was making my own name Chasing that fame He stayed the same All of me changed Like midnight

Indeed, her message of female empowerment and strong personal identity is exactly what Republicans fear the most. What happens if more women stand strong, get educated, carve out their own careers, and either put off marriage or skip it entirely? And given the historically low turnout rates among young voters, what if she gets her legions of fans to register and vote?

In one of her first forays into political activism, she went after Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn in 2018. She has publicly called Donald Trump an autocrat and advocated for his defeat in 2020. And a single Instagram post in September drove tens of thousands of her fans to a voter registration website. And on Election Day 2022, she publicly encouraged her fans to vote. It really does feel like she’s just getting started, and conservatives are terrified.

Following her second Time “person of the year” cover, the right erupted in hysterical outrage. Conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer ranted about Swift being in cahoots with liberal donor George Soros, claiming her efforts to register young voters were meant to “interfere” in the 2024 elections. Jack Posobiec of PizzaGate fame claimed that the “Taylor Swift girlboss psyop” had been “fully activated” for her “upcoming 2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights.”

In another post following the Republican losses this November, he lamented: “Republicans still haven't internalized that the Left promotes abortion as a pro-feminism issue. They aren't voting to kill babies, they're voting bc of feminist movies like Barbie and pop stars like Taylor Swift influencing an army of voters.” In a follow-up tweet, he screamed in all-caps, “BREAKING: THE CHILDLESS, UNMARRIED ABORTION ARMY MOBILIZED BY BARBIE, TAYLOR SWIFT, AND TIKTOK THAT IS CRUSHING REPUBLICANS AT THE BALLOT BOX.”

Childless. Unmarried. You get the point. Conservative radio host Charlie Kirk had a similar message: “Taylor Swift is going to come out in the presidential election and she is going to mobilize her fans. … And we're going to be like, 'Oh wow, where did all these young, female voters come from?’”

The Federalist, a conservative rag, published a story in September titled “Taylor Swift’s Popularity Is A Sign Of Societal Decline.” The problem with her according to this article? You’ll love this:

I still stand by the fact it’s a mistake to read too much in the way of politics or feminism into Swift’s appeal, but given her popularity in the face of this lyrical obsession, it’s a chicken-or-egg-first proposition about whether the cultural avatar of millennial females is famous for being near constantly romantically aggrieved even as TikTok is full of videos of women insisting, “No really, it’s great being 29 and unmarried and childless, I don’t want that at all, I get to sleep in on weekends and learn to make shakshuka, this is the most fulfilling life I can conceive of, I’M HAPPY WHY WON’T ANYONE BELIEVE ME?!”

She’s encouraging women not to get married.

The link inside that blockquote is to a Matt Walsh tweet where he proclaims that a woman posting about how happy she is being single was a problem: “Her life doesn’t revolve around her family and kids so instead it revolves around TV shows and pop stars. Worst of all she’s too stupid to realize how depressing this is.” That is some breathtaking man-splainin’ arrogance, telling a woman how she should live her life, lest it seem to men like him to be “depressing.” Another conservative on Twitter cried, “It’s shameful and sad that a hyper-promiscuous, childless woman (Taylor Swift), aging and alone with a cat, has become the heroine of a feminist age.”

In case it’s not clear, “promiscuous” is another word for “unmarried” since these neanderthals have decreed that sex is bad outside the confines of that traditional institution. It really does bring home her lyrics in “The Man”: how if she were male, she’d “be just like Leo[nardo DeCaprio] in Saint-Tropez,” cavorting with women half his age and younger.

In any case, the Swifties—Swift’s hardcore fan base—are very aware of the right-wing backlash and are extremely defensive of her. The more right-wingers go after her, the more likely her fans are to heed her calls for voter registration and participation. The GOP’s war on democracy and personal liberties (and in particular, abortion and contraception) provides ample motivation to further motivate them.

It’s easy to imagine Swift turning up her activism as we approach next year’s election. Looking at her upcoming tour schedule, she is touring most of the year. But check this out: She has a gap in her tour schedule between August 20 and October 18. The Democratic National Convention will run August 19-22. Would be something to have her play and speak on the final day of the convention.

Then, when she returns to touring in October, her dates on the 18th, 19th, and 20th will be in Florida, where Dems will be fighting to pick up a Senate seat (and who knows, maybe Florida will decide to cooperate next year and be competitive).

Then she’ll be off between November 4-13. Election Day will be November 5.

There’s plenty of time for her to amp up her political activism, registering millions of otherwise inactive voters and ensuring they turn out and vote. And Republicans, by hysterically attacking Swift’s very existence, could very well motivate her to do so. Or maybe she doesn’t need that motivation. Trump and his party are scary enough on their own.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Time Names Taylor Swift 'Person Of The Year,' Enraging Far Right

Time Names Taylor Swift 'Person Of The Year,' Enraging Far Right

Taylor Swift is Time magazine’s person of the year, a choice that makes perfect sense. Swift’s Eras Tour is on track to break global records for tour earnings. A concert film also smashed records for that genre and provided the AMC movie theater chain with its highest single-day ticket sales ever. She was Spotify's most-streamed artist globally for 2023, following three years in which Bad Bunny took that title. Swift’s romance with NFL player Travis Kelce has increased ratings for Kansas City Chiefs football games while sales of his jersey spiked by 400 percent. She is as dominant a figure as they come these days—exactly what Time’s person of the year is supposed to recognize.

Prominent far-right influencers are very unhappy. “And just like clockwork, @taylorswift13 (as I warned you all about) is being further activated by the media and the Democrats to interfere in the 2024 election,” Laura Loomer tweeted, tying it back to her earlier just-asking-questions conspiracy theory: “Has @taylorswift13 made a deal with George Soros and Alex Soros to get the rights to her music back in exchange for getting Zoomers registered to vote Democrat against President Trump ahead of the 2024 Presidential election?” (This is a particularly odd theory given that Swift has spent years rerecording her early albums to reclaim ownership.)

Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec also weighed in. “The Taylor Swift girlboss psyop has been fully activated. From her hand-selected vaccine shill boyfriend to her DINK lifestyle to her upcoming 2024 voter operation for Democrats on abortion rights,” he tweeted. “It’s all coming.”

Posobiec also offered up the Soros conspiracy theory: “Thinking about when Taylor Swift called out the Soros family in 2019 for buying the rights to her music and then how she came out a super liberal in 2020.”

Time’s person of the year interview with Swift makes clear just how ridiculous this idea is of her as a Soros puppet—or anyone’s puppet. Swift is forceful and direct. She is very much a person who knows her own mind and is charting her own course. Again, this is someone who responded to the loss of control of her artistic product by rerecording it over a period of years while continuing to put out new music and then launching one of the biggest, if not the biggest, tours of all time.

In the interview, Swift models support for other highly successful women in entertainment, refusing to be drawn into competition. She described her tour, Beyoncé’s tour, and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” movie as ”a three-part summer of feminine extravaganza.” She praises both Gerwig and Beyoncé, in particular the latter:

“She’s the most precious gem of a person—warm and open and funny,” Swift says. “And she’s such a great disrupter of music-industry norms. She taught every artist how to flip the table and challenge archaic business practices.” That her tour and Beyoncé’s were frequently juxtaposed is vexing. “There were so many stadium tours this summer, but the only ones that were compared were me and Beyoncé,” she says. “Clearly it’s very lucrative for the media and stan culture to pit two women against each other, even when those two artists in question refuse to participate in that discussion.”

Swift even offered an analysis of how gender is at play in the economics of popular culture. This is not some blank slate being “activated” by the media/Democrats/Soros. She’s not just a singer and performer: She’s a songwriter and a major entrepreneur. At just 33 years old, she’s been navigating fame for more than 15 years. In that time has she learned an enormous amount about how the public responds to what she says and does.

Take her relationship with Kelce, another target of right-wing rage. Before the relationship went public, she told Time, “we actually had a significant amount of time that no one knew, which I’m grateful for, because we got to get to know each other. By the time I went to that first game, we were a couple. I think some people think that they saw our first date at that game? We would never be psychotic enough to hard launch a first date.” This is someone who has from a very early age had to see every detail of her life through the filter of how it might be reported and how her fans and haters might react. If she didn’t have an enormous amount of self-knowledge, she would not be the star she is, because she would have crashed and burned.

People like Posobiec and Loomer, who see everything as a conspiracy, look at Swift and see only a conventionally attractive young woman and pop star and simply cannot wrap their heads around any of that. But even if you’re not especially a Swift fan (here I raise my hand), any assessment of her that’s grounded in reality has to acknowledge her intelligence and independence.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.