Fox News to Taylor Swift: ‘Don’t Get Involved in Politics!’
Taylor Swift has not uttered a word about the 2024 presidential election. But the mere prospect that the pop superstar could endorse President Biden has sent conservatives on Fox News into conniptions.
“Why would someone as popular as she is alienate your fans, the Swifties?” Jeanine Pirro said on “The Five,” before addressing the singer directly. “So don’t get involved! Don’t get involved in politics! We don’t want to see you there!”
“Please don’t believe everything Taylor Swift says,” urged one commentator, Charly Arnolt. “We’re all begging you.”
And Sean Hannity, using his prime-time soapbox on Tuesday evening, suggested that Democrats were leading Ms. Swift astray. “Does Taylor realize the guy that they want her to endorse is a kind of stumbling, bumbling mess?” he asked.
“Maybe,” Mr. Hannity added, “she wants to think twice before making a decision about 2024.”
Such unsolicited advice for Ms. Swift popped up on Fox News this week as supporters of former President Donald J. Trump have adopted an increasingly conspiratorial worldview about Ms. Swift’s prospective involvement in the presidential race.
Right-wing activists have indulged in baseless speculation that Ms. Swift’s romance with the Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — a kind of ur-American couple of football star and wholesome pop icon — is a contrivance engineered by Democrats, or perhaps the National Football League, to trick unsuspecting Americans into boosting Super Bowl ratings or voting for Mr. Biden in November.
A version of that theory aired on Fox News in mid-January when the host Jesse Watters floated the idea that Ms. Swift was a government asset engaged in psychological warfare. He suggested that the runaway success of her Eras concert tour was aided by the Defense Department. “Have you ever wondered why or how she blew up like this?” Mr. Watters asked viewers. (He allowed that he had no solid evidence: “If we did, we’d share it.”)
Mr. Kelce has also come in for mockery, with Mr. Watters calling him “sponsored by Pfizer” because Mr. Kelce recorded advertisements to promote Pfizer’s Covid vaccine.
This week’s comments by Mr. Hannity, Ms. Pirro and others, however, were geared more toward dissuading Ms. Swift, who commands 279 million followers on Instagram, from throwing her cultural weight behind a political candidate they dislike. Their on-air discussions were prompted in part by reports that the Biden campaign had deemed Ms. Swift, who endorsed Mr. Biden in 2020, a dream advocate for the president.
Ms. Arnolt, sounding alarmed, told the Fox anchor Martha MacCallum that when Ms. Swift encouraged her fans to vote in a social media post, it yielded 35,000 new registrations. Voters “need to be careful because she doesn’t do what she says,” Ms. Arnolt said, noting that Ms. Swift flies on a private plane, “yet she constantly talks about climate change.” It was the sort of eco-scolding that rarely turns up on a cable network whose guests often voice skepticism about global warming.
Mr. Hannity, who has pronounced himself “not a Swiftie,” drew a connection on Tuesday between Ms. Swift and one of Fox News’s favorite boogeymen: George Soros, the financier and Democratic donor. He aired an old clip in which Ms. Swift said that Mr. Soros’s son Alex helped fund the sale of her song catalog to the producer Scooter Braun. “Does Taylor actually realize that the Soroses, they’re huge donors to left-wing and Democratic causes?” Mr. Hannity asked.
His guest, Tomi Lahren, suggested that Ms. Swift’s relationship with Mr. Kelce meant she would be less inclined to support Mr. Biden, because she was “spending some time in Kansas City around regular folks.” Ms. Lahren added: “My money is that she’s probably going to shut up about politics, and I think that’s the best thing we can ask for.”
Another “Hannity” guest, the Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt, told viewers not to dismiss the bizarre conspiracies about Ms. Swift, citing “so many examples of where the Biden cartel has pulled out all the stops and used whatever they have at their disposal as a weapon against their enemies.”
The focus on Ms. Swift from the right is viewed by some analysts as a misguided political strategy. “Republicans haven’t won the Popular Vote in 20 years so now we’re trying the novel strategy of attacking one of the most beloved pop stars on the planet & … the NFL,” Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump administration official and a co-host of “The View,” wrote on X.
Not all the references to Ms. Swift on Fox News are negative. On Brian Kilmeade’s Saturday show, he asked the Fox Sports analyst Jay Glazer about the Swift phenomenon.
“She’s a genius at what she does,” Mr. Glazer replied. “The N.F.L. is a genius in how they market things. It couldn’t be better. There’s nothing to hate on here. I think there’s just all love, in my opinion.”