RWM attacks on Taylor Swift

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media have repeatedly launched wild attacks against Taylor Swift

From accusing Swift of witchcraft to calling her a “psyop” for the Democrats, right-wing media need to calm down

Right-wing media spent 2023 lobbing sexist attacks at pop star Taylor Swift. According to them, Time magazine’s 2023 Person of the Year is a fake Christian, a Democratic agent, and possibly a witch. She’s also ruining football by dating an NFL player.

  • Taylor Swift, named Time's Person of the Year for 2023, has long been the target of right-wing attacks

    • Taylor Swift made frequent headlines throughout 2023 — for her “Eras'” worldwide concert tour and movie, for becoming Spotify’s most-streamed artist for the year, and for being named Time magazine's Person of the Year. Swift has sold over 200 million albums over the course of her career and earned 12 Grammy awards since her debut at 16. [Forbes, 12/13/23; Time magazine, 12/6/23; Morning Consult, 3/14/23]
    • Right-wing media frequently target Swift and her fans with misogynistic insults. They’ve accused Swift of fomenting societal decline because she's an unmarried pop star, and, more recently, attacked her for being Time’s Person of the Year. [Business Insider, 11/9/23; The Nation, 10/17/23; Media Matters, 12/7/23]
    • Conservative backlash against Swift increased after she endorsed a Democrat in the 2018 Tennessee Senate race and expressed support for LGBTQ rights at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards. Swift became more outspoken about her seemingly liberal political beliefs after fans criticized her for not leveraging her platform during the 2016 presidential election. [USA Today, 9/12/19; 10/7/18]
    • Right-wing media have also targeted Swift’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce, primarily for Kelce’s appearance in a Pfizer ad promoting the COVID-19 vaccine. Right-wing media pundits have also attacked Swift over her attendance at football games. [Media Matters, 9/27/23, 10/3/23]
  • Right-wing media criticized Swift for supporting the LGBTQ community

    • Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro attacked Swift after she spoke out in support of the LGBTQ community at a Chicago concert during Pride Month. “You remember that time that Taylor Swift used to just be, like, a person who sang songs and without auto tune didn't sound amazing?" said Shapiro. “Well now she has decided that she's a political leader.” [The Daily Wire, The Ben Shapiro Show, 6/5/23, accessed via YouTube]
    • One America News' Alison Steinberg asked why “so many conservative Swifties overlook” Swift’s allyship with the “alphabet mafia” and supposedly liberal politics. Steinberg listed reasons why conservatives should ditch Swift – including that she is a “Christian while also being pro-choice,” that she openly supports President Joe Biden, and that she has “financial ties to the Soros family.” Guest Bryson Gray concluded, “This conservative support for Taylor Swift has to stop.” [One America News, In Focus, 12/13/23]
    • The Gateway Pundit attacked Swift for amplifying “anti-Christian and ‘pride’ themes” after she was named Time’s 2023 Person of the Year. The article added that “we should not begin by confusing that award with a moral endorsement. After all, Swift now shares that honor with the likes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.” [The Gateway Pundit, 12/8/23]
    • The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles performed an in-depth analysis of Swift’s music video for the song Lavender Haze, criticizing the video for casting a transgender model and adding that “lavender insinuates weird gay stuff.” Knowles ended the video by encouraging viewers to send in more “weird trans pop songs.” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show4/30/23, accessed via YouTube]
  • Right-wing media lobbed sexist attacks against Swift, demanding she “release a sex video,” and shaming her for past relationships

    • On Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast, co-hosts Dan Katz and Eric Sollenberger said they would tolerate Swift’s presence at NFL games only if she and Travis Kelce “release a sex video” — among other sexist attacks. After Katz noted that the New York Jets  completed an “octopus” — scoring a touchdown and then completing a 2-point conversion for a total of 8 points — host Sollenberger added, “That’s what they should call Taylor Swift’s vagina." [Media Matters, 10/3/23]
    • Turning Point USA co-founder Charlie Kirk asked podcast guests, “Does Taylor Swift have any eggs left?” During a nearly 25-minute attack on Swift, Kirk and podcast guests made comments about Swift’s reproductive capabilities, called Swift “ugly” and “bitter,” and said Swift’s “body count will have a museum and galleria dedicated to it at the end of her career." [Meidas Touch, 12/9/23]
    • Fox host Greg Gutfeld slut-shamed Swift for her dating history. “Taylor Swift’s Instagram account has helped register more than 35,000 new voters," he said. “It’s nice that she's still on good terms with all her ex-boyfriends." [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 9/22/23]
    • Daily Wire host Candace Owens has repeatedly attacked Swift, saying Swift “has the maturity of a 15-year-old girl” and demanding to know, “Why hasn’t any man stepped up to the plate to marry her?” In April, Owens called Swift “the ultimate mean girl.” In September, Owens criticized Swift’s relationships with her exes. In October, Owens speculated that men won’t marry Swift “because Taylor Swift has a lot of personalities” and “her behavior is really, really cringy." [Salon, 10/4/23; The Daily Wire, accessed 9/29/23; The Daily Wire, The Candace Owens Podcast, 4/16/23]
    • After Swift made her first appearance at a Kansas City Chiefs game, several right-wing media figures resorted to criticizing her for her appearance. Mediaite collected tweets from right-wing pundits calling Swift “mid” and “homely” after she was spotted in a VIP box with Kelce’s mother. [Mediaite, 9/26/23]
    • NewsNation host Leland Vittert accused Swift of “punching down” after she called the men criticizing her for attending Kansas City Chiefs games “Dads, Brads, and Chads.” Vittert compared Swift’s response to Hillary Clinton's description of Trump supporters as “deplorables” in 2016. The Federalist culture editor Emily Jashinsky added, “This is something she should be careful not repeat in the future because men don't have a lot of places anymore where they're just for men." [NewsNation, On Balance with Leland Vittert, 12/11/23]
    • PragerU personality Aldo Buzzatoni said that “instead of telling young girls to be single, to break up with their boyfriends,” Swift should use her “influence over these young women” to “promote marriage” and “conservative values.” Buzzatoni continued, “I think the time spent doing that would be a lot better than like I said, promoting young girls to be single and breaking up with their boyfriends and bashing men.” [One America News, In Focus, 11/17/23
    • In an article for The Federalist titled “Taylor Swift’s Popularity Is A Sign Of Societal Decline," Mark Hemingway claimed that Swift is famous for being “near constantly romantically aggrieved.” Hemingway also stated that he is “not sure [Swift’s] popularity is a testament to her talent” and compared her music to pornography, stating, “Bad pop songwriting is like pornography: You know it the moment you hear it.” [The Federalist, 9/5/23]
  • Right-wing media attacked Swift for her relationship with NFL player Travis Kelce, who appeared in a COVID-19 vaccine PSA

    • On Fox News’ Primetime, cryptocurrency influencer Aubrey Strobel insinuated that Swift’s relationship with Kelce was part of “a long-game strategy to knock the Chiefs out of Super Bowl contention.” Strobel stated, “I do think there is something going on. She shows up. Taylor is very careful with her reputation. She doesn’t just go anywhere. She shows up in the box, with his mother, she’s jumping up and down, but I think we are missing something.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 9/28/23]
    • Fox News contributor Joe Concha blasted Swift for reportedly swearing at a Chiefs game. “If I heard that and my son was dating a girl who has a mouth like a teamster, that's it,” he said. Swift reportedly chanted “let’s fucking go” in a private box. [Twitter/X, 9/29/23; The Daily Mail, 9/29/23]
    • OutKick host Clay Travis suggested Swift was to blame for the Kansas City Chiefs’ subpar performance. “Maybe Taylor Swift is seen as the Yoko Ono of the Kansas City Chiefs?” he said. [OutKick, OutKick The Show, 12/11/23]
    • After Swift first appeared at a Kansas City Chiefs game, Travis claimed Swift was “wasting [her] time” with Kelce if she wanted to get married. Travis stated, “If the purpose of dating is to get married, you are wasting your time with Travis Kelce. He is a dime a dozen. He's not that good-looking, his career is almost over — you can do better even if you want to date a tight end in the NFL.” [OutKick, OutKick the Show, 9/26/23]
    • Discussing Kelce’s ad for Pfizer on The Megyn Kelly Show, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk questioned, “What will break his heart first: his new relationship with Taylor Swift or the COVID shot? … They’re both in the business of breaking hearts.” Kirk added, “I find it rather repulsive, to be perfectly honest, that a supposedly alpha male person like Travis Kelce is pushing a vaccine toward a demographic that doesn’t need it.” [Mediaite, 9/25/23]
    • In response to a claim about the “Taylor Swift effect” helping Kelce’s jersey sales and social media followers skyrocket, BlazeTV host Jason Whitlock posted, “No. That's the benefit of selling out to Big Pharma and Bud Light.” In another post, Whitlock questioned, “What professional athlete in the prime of his life and health would be out promoting the vaccine given all the data about the injuries and whatnot” and criticized Kelce’s relationship with “Taylor Swift, hardcore leftist [who] promotes abortion.” [Twitter/X, 9/26/23; BlazeTV, Fearless, 9/26/26, accessed via Twitter/X 9/26/23]
    • Far-right influencer and self-described “Alpha Male” Nick Adams wrote that Kelce had knelt for the anthem and done ads for Pfizer and Bud Light. He added: “Taylor Swift hates America. Taylor Swift hates President Trump. Taylor Swift loves communism. Maybe Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift would be good together.” [Twitter/X, 9/25/23]
    • OutKick host Charly Arnolt suggested Swift and Kelce were in a public relations relationship “to push woke products, also woke political agendas.” Before playing Kelce’s Pfizer ad, Arnolt said,  “A lot of debate whether that’s a legitimate relationship. But they're using people like this, celebrities, to push woke products, also woke political agendas. It's clearly working.” [OutKick, OutKick the Morning, 10/5/23]
  • Right-wing media claimed Swift promotes witchcraft and Satanism

    • In a social media post, Rumble host Stew Peters implied that Swift should be burned alive for witchcraft. While sharing a social media post from Swift which mentions “casting spells,” Peters stated: “Taylor Swift promotes witchcraft and encourages her fans to ‘cast spells.’ I’ve heard that Salem, Massachusetts has a remedy for witches." [Twitter/X, 10/19/23]
    • Also citing the “casting spells” social media post from Swift, former GOP gubernatorial candidate Kandiss Taylor attacked Swift for “celebrating witchcraft” and “influencing innocent minds to be enticed with the dark side of spirituality.” Her post went on to state, “Let’s see how much Lucifer cares about you or your career. I promise. He doesn’t.” [Twitter/X, 10/18/23]
    • Stew Peters responded to Kandiss Taylor’s tweet, “George Soros might own Taylor Swift’s music, but the devil owns her soul.” Peters previously called Swift “demonic.” [Twitter/X, 10/19/2311/19/23]
    • One America News’ Steinberg said she was creeped out by Swift’s use of “kind of witchy” dances and Swifties' “take me to church” chants during the Eras tour: “I've heard in her Eras tour that one of her dances is kind of witchy — her and the dancers hold these yellow globes and are wearing these long hoods. The whole thing looks really creepy to me. And then, in addition to that, there is also apparently a trend among the Swifties where before one of her songs comes on, they all chant ‘Take me to church.’ Of course, these are all just sort of conspiracies, but I do find the whole situation rather fascinating and peculiar.” [One America News, In Focus, 11/17/23
    • Steinberg also wondered aloud if a Harvard course on Taylor Swift’s pop culture power was an attempt to “instruct you on how to relinquish any morals and values you might have, and just indoctrinate you, and force you to become a full-blown satanist.” Steinberg stressed, “I’m a firm believer in that Hollywood celebrities are sort of hand-selected and once you reach a certain level you kind of have to be willing to sell your soul to Satan to achieve real success. … So I’m confused as to what this course is actually going to teach.” [One America News, In Focus, 11/29/23]
  • Right-wing media accused Swift of being a Democratic Party operative

    • Former Trump adviser and right-wing podcast host Steve Bannon compared Swift to election denier and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, suggesting that Swift is a “powerful political force” for the left. According to Bannon, “Taking Mike Lindell out of Walmart was a monumental piece of the history of this political movement. Just like today, announcing Taylor Swift is Time's Person of the Year ... is another major political statement, because she's a powerful political force on their side, like Mike Lindell's a political force on this side. A cultural figure.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 12/6/23]
    • Turning Point USA’s Kirk blamed Swift for anti-choice losses during the 2023 midterms, as “all the Swifties want is swift abortion.” Kirk added, “We act as if she is like Mother Mary or something. Newsflash, she ain't Mother Mary.” [Real America's Voice, The Charlie Kirk Show, 11/8/23]
    • OAN’s Steinberg said she believes Swift is “the perfect political weapon for the Democrat agenda.” “She's trendy. Everyone loves her. She comes off as super sweet, but in reality, her entire value set completely contradicts anything Christian or conservative,” Steinberg stated. “I think she's propped up as an idol for Gen-Z girls so the Democrats can possibly use her to win votes for Biden.” [One America News, In Focus, 12/6/23]
    • In a series of social media posts, anti-Muslim bigot Laura Loomer claimed that the 2024 election would be “MAGA vs Swifties.” In an earlier post, she alleged that the Democratic Party is “100% using Taylor Swift to try to get Democrats elected.” [Twitter/X, 12/11/2312/6/23]
    • Newsmax host Mark Kaye suggested Swift is a Democratic operative because she held voter registration drives at concerts. According to Kaye, “What better way to get a bunch of young girls to vote for Joe Biden than to convince Taylor Swift to be his spokesperson? That's why when she went out to her concert, she was more than happy to promote the ‘go out and register to vote’ mandate.” Kaye also said it’s “interesting that this pop sensation and this football star are getting together just before an election year to promote not just registering to vote, voting for Democrats, but also getting your COVID vaccine. Is it all just a coincidence, or is this pre-planned by the Democrat Party?” [Newsmax, The Mark Kaye Show, 12/9/23]
    • Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec accused Swift of being a “psyop” and “a statecraft asset for years” in a series of absurd social media posts and claimed “2024 will be the full payoff” for Democrats. In one post, Posobiec claimed that “conservatives who applaud Taylor Swift Time Mag award psyop” will be responsible for losing the country. [Twitter/X, 12/6/23; 12/6/23; 12/6/23; 12/6/23]
    • Dom Lucre, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who previously shared child sexual abuse imagery online, theorized that liberal financier George Soros was responsible for Swift being named Time's Person of the Year. In his full social media post, he claimed that her “music rights had been purchased by George Soros,” before insinuating a connection, adding that Times’ award “doesn’t come cheap.” [Twitter/X, 12/6/23; Media Matters, 7/28/23]
    • In a social media post, right-wing account End Wokeness speculated that Swift was an operative for “the regime.” The full post read, “Why is the regime pushing Taylor Swift so hard? Because she is a 2024 Get Out The Vote operation that will be activated soon.” [Twitter/X, 12/6/23]