Exclusive: How Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce became the focus of baseless political conspiracy theories…

Exclusive: How Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce became the focus of baseless political conspiracy theories...

 

The budding love story featuring music superstar Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce took an unexpected turn into the world of political conspiracy theories this week after the team advanced to the Super Bowl.

 

Exclusive: How Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce became the focus of baseless political conspiracy theories...
Myriad baseless rumors emerged on social media — everything from claims that Swift has played a part in Pentagon psychological operations to the idea that she and her two-time Super Bowl champion boyfriend are key assets in a secret plot to help President Joe Biden get reelected in 2024. Another variant: That the Chiefs’ success was rigged as part of the plan for the game on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas.

Political and media figures on the right, including former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, political activist Laura Loomer and One America News Network host Alison Steinberg, amplified the allegations.

Pop culture and politics have long been entwined. The entertainment industry has been a deep well of political contributions. Candidates often try to draft on the celebrity of stars to add to their own allure.

The potency of the impact is less clear. In Swift’s case, there is some proof that she can at minimum generate more voter registration.

In September, Swift posted a short message on her Instagram account encouraging her 272 million followers to register to vote. The post led to more than 35,000 registrations on the nonpartisan nonprofit Vote.org.

Swift’s massive fan base gives her a powerful voice. An SSRS poll conducted in October 2023 found that about 6 in 10 U.S. adults called themselves at least casual fans of the singer, with 8% saying they’re big fans. The poll also found that 8 in 10 U.S. adults said they heard of her relationship with Kelce and the majority of those familiar with it considered it a real relationship, rather than a publicity stunt.

Both Swift and Kelce have made public statements about politics and other issues that put them at odds with the far-right.

Swift broke her long-standing refusal to discuss her political views in 2018 when she announced in an Instagram post that she would vote for Tennessee’s Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen and Democratic House incumbent Rep. Jim Cooper. She also slammed then-U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Republican candidate, citing Blackburn’s opposition to certain LGBTQ+ rights and her vote against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. Blackburn won election to the Senate.

Kelce faced criticism in September for appearing in an ad promoting the double dose of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ad was part of a partnership with Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company that developed a vaccine in response to the pandemic and has since become a common target for anti-vaccine activists and conspiracy theorists.

Pop culture figures and the industry that surround them have been enmeshed in political campaigns long before the duo some fans refer to as Swelce.

Former President Bill Clinton first appeared on MTV during his 1992 campaign while he was still governor of Arkansas. Major stars including Johnny Cash, Mary Tyler Moore and Willie Nelson endorsed former President Jimmy Carter more than 40 years ago when he made his second run for the White House. Ronald Reagan got his start in politics after a career as an actor.