Right-wing media and figures had a meltdown over Grammy Award-winning musician Lizzo playing James Madison’s crystal flute this week, attacking the singer personally and claiming “woke” elites organized the performance to undermine America’s Founding Fathers. For example, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh went as far as to call Lizzo a “twerking degenerate” and a “morbidly obese weirdo in a thong,” alleging that the performance was “a form of racial retribution” and a “purposeful act of degradation.”
Lizzo, who is also a classically trained flutist, was invited by the Library of Congress to visit its collection of 1,700 flutes while she was on tour in Washington, D.C. After allowing her to play a crystal flute previously owned by Madison, the fourth president of the United States, the library agreed Lizzo could perform with it during her show later in the week. On September 27, with supervision from Library staff and the Capitol Police, Lizzo briefly became the first person in history to actually perform with the flute.
Lizzo’s performance represented a symbolic moment as well. Madison, the former owner of the flute, enslaved over 100 people on his Virginia plantation. Notably, the flute was lent to Lizzo by the 14th Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library.
Right-wing media ignored this history and context for Lizzo’s groundbreaking performance, however, and responded instead with hysterical and baseless attacks.
Conservative pundits launched a hate campaign against Lizzo, accusing her of “desecrating American history just for the sake of it”
Numerous right-wing figures expressed their disgust and outrage at Lizzo’s performance, including referring to her as a “morbidly obese weirdo” and claiming that she “isn't talented.”
- The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh:
- Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro:
- Trump loyalist and America First Policy Institute Ambassador Nick Adams:
- Pro-Trump conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec:
- Newsmax contributor and former Trump Lawyer Jenna Ellis:
- Conservative commentator Greg Price:
- Right-wing Twitter personality Ian Miles Cheong:
- Conservative podcast host Wayne DuPree:
- The Federalist correspondent Margot Cleveland:
Right-wing figures also alleged that the performance was an attack by the “woke” left
Right-wing figures and media outlets accused Lizzo’s performance of being “a form of racial retribution” and part of the left’s agenda to destroy the country. They continued to try and weaponize language around “woke culture” claiming that the performance was pushing “politics and wokeness.”
- Newsmax host Jenn Pellegrino complained that “sometimes you just want to enjoy a song or an award show or a baseball game without having politics and wokeness shoved in your face.”
- The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh
- One America News’ host Kara McKinney claimed that Lizzo played the flute “as America burns,” comparing the moment to the historical story of Nero playing a fiddle while watching Rome burn. McKinney said the performance was an example of “degenerate” culture and showcased the “soft totalitarianism” of “so-called liberal democracy.”
- Neo-nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec:
- Cada Tarde’s Carines Moncada:
- QAnon supporter and failed GOP congressional candidate Lavern Spicer:
- The Daily Wire:
- Far-right conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson:
Conservative figures fueled the faux outrage machine by claiming that Madison was “rolling in his grave”
Several right-wing figures asserted that James Madison and other Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves if they saw Lizzo’s performance:
- One America News’ anchor Mike Dinow claimed that “Lizzo has the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.”
- BlazeTV Host Sara Gonzales
- New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor Miranda Devine:
Update (9/30/22): This piece has been updated with a clip from the September 28 edition of Cada Tarde translated by Media Matters staff.