- Thursday, February 1, 2024

These days, you hear a lot of stupid stuff. But nothing comes close to the latest absurd conspiracy theory being embraced by a slew of conservatives.

It all started earlier this month when Fox News host Jesse Watters declared pop star Taylor Swift could be “a front for a covert political agenda.” Mr. Watters claimed that “around four years ago, the Pentagon’s psychological operations unit floated turning Taylor Swift into an asset.”

He then played a clip from a 2019 conference organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence, in which a presenter appears to name Ms. Swift merely as an example of a powerful influencer.

“It’s real. The Pentagon psy-op unit pitched NATO on turning Taylor Swift into an asset for combating misinformation online,” Mr. Watters concluded.

And that’s all it took. Now, this stupid conspiracy theory is everywhere — more so now that the Kansas City Chiefs, the team on which Ms. Swift’s boyfriend, Travis Kelce, plays, have made it to the Super Bowl.

In case you live in a cave, Ms. Swift is a pop singer. She has 280 million followers on Instagram and millions more on other social media platforms. Ms. Swift has enormous clout — just ask the NFL. Front Office Sports recently reported that Ms. Swift has created a “brand value” of $331.5 million for the Chiefs and the National Football League. 

So that’s led to conservatives suddenly espousing tinfoil hat theories that something else must be going on. Ms. Swift must be a psychological operations plot. The proof? In 2020, the billionaire urged her fans to check their voter registration ahead of elections (65,000 did within one day of her post), and she endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in that election.

Now, she’s heading to the Super Bowl, and her platform is even bigger. In some weird attempt to discredit one of the most popular people in the world, conservatives — including bona fide nut job Vivek Ramaswamy — have lost their minds.

“I wonder who’s going to win the Super Bowl next month,” Mr. Ramaswamy, the unsuccessful 2024 presidential candidate who has spread many other conspiracy theories, posted on X. “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.”

Taylor Swift is an op,” declared Benny Johnson, a right-wing media personality who boasts millions of followers on social media. “It’s all fake. You’re being played.”

“The Democrats’ Taylor Swift election interference psyop is happening in the open,” said Laura Loomer, a sycophant of former President Donald Trump. “It’s not a coincidence that current and former Biden admin officials are propping up Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. They are going to use Taylor Swift as the poster child for their pro-abortion GOTV Campaign.”

“The NFL is totally RIGGED for the Kansas City Chiefs, Taylor Swift, Mr. Pfizer (Travis Kelce),” wrote Mike Crispi, a Salem Media host. “All to spread DEMOCRAT PROPAGANDA. Calling it now: KC wins, goes to Super Bowl, Swift comes out at the halftime show and ‘endorses’ Joe Biden with Kelce at midfield. It’s all been an op since day one.”

Ms. Swift, 34, is decidedly liberal. In December, Time magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year attended comedian Ramy Youssef’s fundraiser for Gaza. That makes Ms. Swift — and her legion of Swifties — a prime target of politicians, who will be begging her for an endorsement as the election approaches.

“Any post or effort from Swift to fundraise on Biden’s behalf could lead to millions of dollars funneling into the campaign,” the Washington Examiner reported this week. “There have even been talks of sending Biden to one of her Eras Tour stops, which continues for the second leg on Feb. 7 in Tokyo, Japan.”

The Daily Mail went further, saying Ms. Swift “could sway 2024 election outcome.”

“Taylor Swift could heavily influence the way that Americans vote in the presidential election — with a fifth of voters saying they’re ’likely’ to back a candidate she endorses,” the Mail reported this week. “In a poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for Newsweek, 18 percent of voters say they’re ’more likely’ or ’significantly more likely’ to vote for a candidate endorsed by Taylor Swift.”

Mr. Trump this week reportedly claimed he is “more popular” than Ms. Swift as some allies vowed to launch a “holy war” against her. But Swifties are one of the most loyal fan bases anywhere, and a Forbes poll last March found 53% of U.S. adults are fans of Ms. Swift.

Maybe Mr. Trump really is blind to reality, but that’s a war he loses. And Republicans ought to get off the “psyop” hype and try to find a way to persuade young Americans to vote for them. 

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X @josephcurl.

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