It’s a conspiracy involving the deepest of deep states: The world’s most popular entertainer, America’s most popular sporting event and the president of the United States. Its goal, according to theories circulating in the outskirts of MAGA world, is to covertly compel fans to throw the 2024 election to the Democrats.
Right-wing speculation reached a fever pitch this week around pop mega-star Taylor Swift and boyfriend Travis Kelce after Kelce’s team, the Kansas City Chiefs, qualified for Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, a victory the two celebrated with much-photographed postgame smooch. A day later, The New York Times ran a piece noting President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is hoping for Swift’s endorsement.
Those two seemingly unrelated events — and the possibility that Swift would use her massive star power and huge online reach to help Biden beat Donald Trump — are driving right-wing media into a meltdown. And that one of the country’s biggest celebrities will use her fanbase to help Biden is already being treated as inevitable by some of the right’s biggest influencers.
“That will be a tsunami that will be very difficult to thwart,” Turning Point USA Founder Charlie Kirk reportedly said to a group of young conservatives at a conference Monday night, of the possibility of Swift and her massive army of supporters wading into the election. “We better be prepared. It seems as though things are aligning for that.”
But there’s more to this than the possibility of a Swift nod swinging a close election. For years, right-wing conspiracists have pushed the notion that Swift, who began her career in the conservative world of country music and was once referred to as “Aryan goddess” by white supremacists, is somehow a Democratic “agent” because she endorsed Democrats in the 2018 midterms and Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Swift has admitted she regrets not getting involved in 2016.)
“There have been have claims for several months that she’s a psyop, that she’s a Pentagon asset, that she’s a political weapon,” said Brennan Suen, the deputy director of external affairs for Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog. “The claims have gotten completely wild.”
Suen noted the “really clear narrative and tactical similarities between the far reaches of the internet, like 4chan and Rumble, and more that established right-wing outlets like Fox News, that are both trafficking and outlandish conspiracy theories about Taylor Swift.”
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on alleged collusion with Swift and the NFL.
Kelce, for his part, appeared in a Pfizer commercial promoting the COVID vaccine. COVID shots have long been the subject of right-wing conspiracies, with adherents falsely believing the government is covering up adverse reactions or that the vaccines harbor microchips.
Now, high-profile conservative figures are promoting the unfounded idea that Swift, the NFL and the Democratic Party are together involved in a “psyop” campaign to deliver the election to Biden. Fox News host Jesse Watters recently suggested that Swift was a “front for a covert political agenda” and bizarrely called her a “Pentagon asset” — which, of course, the Pentagon denied.
“As for this conspiracy theory, we are going to shake it off,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the Daily Beast.
By that logic, Swift’s appearances at Chiefs games isn’t to cheer on her boyfriend or even to promote her tour — it’s really to get the country to vote blue in November.
“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,” former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has embraced far more dangerous conspiracy theories than this one, tweeted Monday.
“You don’t have to take my word for it. The New York Times already said it’s working on what the Biden administration calls the ′Taylor strategy,’” Jack Posobiec, a conspiracy theorist known for promoting “Pizzagate,” said at Turning Point Action’s Restoring National Confidence Summit on Tuesday, the same event where Kirk mentioned Swift. (The Times article referenced no such strategy.)
“It’s not about her, it’s about the machine that’s around her,” Posobiec said, suggesting Swift is somehow in cahoots with Democrats.
The theory has some truth behind it: Biden has struggled with young voters, who are a major part of Swift’s fanbase and a reason Biden aides are hopeful an endorsement will arrive before the election. Swift’s endorsement could help encourage some of her 279 million Instagram followers to register to vote, or even to raise cash for Biden.
But just ask former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who earned Swift’s endorsement in a 2018 Senate race, if the pop megastar can guarantee a victory. (Bredesen lost to GOP Sen. Marsha Blackburn by 11 points.)
Though even as the conservative podcasting and media spheres hype the dangers of a Swift endorsement to Trump, some of the most right-wing members of Congress aren’t convinced there’s anything political to the Swift-Kelce coupling.
“I’m a sports fan and if I’m watching a game, I’m watching the game,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told HuffPost. Greene herself has been involved in online conspiracism, and said she’s seen some of the speculation about Swift, but didn’t care to comment.
“Taylor Swift, she’s an entertainer,” Greene said. “Apparently, she’s dating a football player.”
Other House Republicans said they hadn’t heard of what’s going on. Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) said he only wanted the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. “She’s not adding to anything to help them be more successful,” Burlison said.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) joked that maybe Swift is a “double deep plant” who will actually help Republicans.
“I remember when she was country — she was in Nashville, and I like country music,” he said. “I’m not a pop person.”
But in the Senate, lawmakers defended Swift and praised her for her positive influence on music and sports.
“I’m happy for her, happy for Travis,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), an avid Chiefs fan who often wears a tie with his team’s logo on it, told HuffPost. “It’s good for football. She’s bringing a lot of flair to the game. I think it’s something to celebrate.”
Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Co.), a Swiftie who attends her concerts, mocked the theory that Swift was faking a relationship with a football star for attention.
“Is it your argument she needs more publicity? Do you think she’s worried about her standing with the Grammys? You think she’s fearful of what people are saying of her private life?” Hickenlooper asked rhetorically.
“People cut her to pieces a million times for so-called misdeeds and she turns it into good songs,” he added. “This will turn into some song somewhere.”