Only in 2024 could a chart-topping country singer’s relationship with a star football player be viewed by major news outlets as a mission to control Americans.
In the U.S., Taylor Swift is nothing if not monoculture, regularly breaking records with her juggernaut “Eras Tour,” the theatrical version of the show and her records, all of which were ubiquitous in 2023. Yet her fame permeated a whole new segment of pop culture when she began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and soon became a fixture at his games, creating a weekly online firestorm analyzing her outfits, their body language and the typical minutiae of being in a relationship.
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Yet a bizarre branch of media coverage began in the weeks leading up to the Chiefs besting the Baltimore Ravens, earning a spot playing against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl: Some posited that Swift’s movement into the football world was proof of a political conspiracy theory connected to the government.
Why are some media outlets speculating that Swift has become a government psyop?
On the Jan. 9 episode of his show “Jesse Watters Primetime,” the Fox News talking head played a clip from a 2019 conference organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (per Politico). During the presentation, Swift is named as a powerful influencer, and Watters connected several disparate dots from there.
“Around four years ago, the Pentagon’s psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset,” he said. “It’s real. The Pentagon Psyop unit pitched NATO on turning Taylor Swift into an asset for combating misinformation online.”
Days later, the Pentagon denied the accusation with a Swift-quoting statement, saying “As for this conspiracy theory, we are going to shake it off.”
Why is there baseless speculation swirling that the Super Bowl will be rigged for the Chiefs to win?
Conspiracy theorist and one-time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy sure thinks so. In a now-viral response to a tweet saying that Swift came out as “super liberal in 2020,” Ramaswamy wrote on Monday that, “I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month. And I wonder if there’s a major presidential endorsement coming from an artificially culturally propped-up couple this fall. Just some wild speculation over here, let’s see how it ages over the next 8 months.”
Is Joe Biden courting Swift’s endorsement to add heat to his campaign?
The New York Times released a report on Monday stating that Swift would be the biggest get the campaign could land as an endorsement, as it could help bolster fundraising efforts and act as a wave of support for the incumbent.
Swift threw her support behind Biden in 2020 and was instrumental in encouraging thousands of her fans to register to vote.
Additionally, a Newsweek poll was released on Sunday that says up to 18% of voters could be swayed by a Swift endorsement.
Why is Travis Kelce being attacked for his vaccine campaign?
During this season, Kelce has been featured in a Pfizer campaign advocating for this year’s COVID booster. Given the right’s reluctance to believe COVID-19 health news, his participation has been seen conspiratorially by some skeptics.
This has been most widely exemplified by criticism of Kelce by New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers, who was sidelined this season after getting injured during the first game of the season, repeatedly poked at Kelce in media appearances, referring to him as “Mr. Pfizer” and even challenging him to a debate on vaccines.
Why is Swift being accused of “idolatry”?
Perhaps one of the wackiest culture war attacks on Swift has come from Newsmax, where host Greg Kelly — in-between breathless coverage of Donald Trump — slammed Swift from a Biblical angle.
“They’re elevating her to an idol,” he said of her fan base. “Idolatry. This is a little bit of what idolatry, I think, looks like. And you’re not supposed to do that. In fact, if you look it up in the Bible, it’s a sin!”
How much is right-wing media actually covering this story?
A lot! Since Sunday’s game, FoxNews.com has published at least 15 articles about Swift, ranging from the romantic (“Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s intimate moment on field after Chiefs’ win revealed”) to the critical (“Touchdown: Taylor Swift lands in Baltimore ahead of AFC Championship, jet belches tons of C02 emissions”).
In perhaps their own act of idolatry, Newsmax.com has written at least five articles about Swift since the game, including the unusually romantic “Taylor Swift Greets Super Bowl-Bound Travis Kelce With a Kiss.”
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