Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV
Sportscasters live for story-lines they can feature during big games. They talk about them during lulls in the action, to bring some human interest to a player who’s just been injured, or simply to draw viewers deeper into the game. There were two story-lines in the Kansas City v. Baltimore AFC league championship game on Sunday afternoon. The first was the magic Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes created from the first time he got the ball in his hands. He completed 30 of 39 passes, one after the other. He had no turn-overs. His favorite receiver, Travis Kelce, caught 11 of his passes, one of them for a touchdown, and broke the all-time National Football League record for passes caught in post-season play.
The other story-line was, of course, Kelce’s romance with mega-world-topping-super-star Taylor Swift. Kansas City won the game, the trophy was awarded, Kelce dismounted the awards podium, found his paramour in the crowd, and a photographer caught this photograph of the two:
Watching the game, I was struck by how happy Swift looked in the VIP booth with her friends and Kelce’s mother at her side. Every time Kelce caught a pass, a network camera caught her celebrating. She looked radiant, beatific.
You could feel her excitement through the television screen. Her affection for Kelce, her elation at his feats on the field—all of it was right there on her face, in her leaps and hugs with her friends. It wasn’t just obviously genuine; it was catching.
That is what had the Fox pundits and the MAGA keyboard warriors and basement podcasters going nuts. You could feel their panic rising as the images of Swift and Kelce tumbled forth into American living rooms. Two people, who even under the best conditions imaginable would ordinarily find it difficult to find a partner and to fall so obviously in love while living lives in the public eye and end up being so happy, had done just that. To also be as famous as Taylor Swift is and Travis Kelce has become, well, that just sent the whole story-line into the stratosphere.
Where it has remained and will continue to flourish, because you know who is feeding it oxygen every day, all day long? The MAGA media-sphere, helped out by no less a pout-monster than Donald J. Trump, when it became known that he had thrown something of a tantrum when last month Taylor Swift made the Person of the Year cover of TIME magazine, not Trump.
The right-wing has been in full-on freak out mode ever since. You wouldn’t automatically assume that they’d be able to come up with crazed right-wing conspiracy theories about a pop star like Taylor Swift, but you would be wrong. Conspiracies are flourishing like mushrooms on a forest floor. Somehow, she has secretly been a psy-ops agent of the Pentagon for the last four years without anyone knowing about it.
Earlier this month, Fox News host Jesse Watters first went on the air with the conspiracy theory about Swift, asking his audience, “have you ever wondered why or how she blew up like this?” According to Mediate, he then played a video clip of a woman on a stage giving a presentation to an audience somewhere: “The idea is that social influence can help—can help encourage or promote behavior change. So, potentially as like a peaceful information operation… I include Taylor Swift in here because she’s—she’s, you know, a fairly influential online person. I don’t know if you’ve heard of her.”
Watters looked grimly into the camera and said this: “Yeah, that’s real. Pentagon’s psy-op unit pitched NATO on turning Taylor Swift into an asset.”
It wasn’t anything of the sort, of course. The woman was a researcher from Johns Hopkins University speaking at NATO’s International Conference on Cyber Conflict, or CYCON in 2019. It turns out that the whole Taylor Swift Pentagon psy-ops freak out started with a tweet by a former Trump State Department official, someone called Mike Benz, who posted a short video from the CYCON conference with this comment: “Watch the incredible moment that a rep from the Pentagon’s psychological operations research firm pitched NATO’s military psyops center on turning Taylor Swift into an asset for the Western military alliance to stop ‘disinformation’ on the Internet.”
So, there it is, folks. Paranoia from the right wing that Taylor Swift, who has fallen in love with football player Travis Kelce, is a threat to the right’s blizzard of disinformation about hundreds if not thousands of subjects because she has been enlisted by the Pentagon as an “asset.” That becomes extra-ultra-scary-threatening to right-wingers because the Pentagon, as we all know, is so “woke.”
Diving even deeper down this rabbit hole, we find conspiracies being spread by right wing loons that the Super Bowl has been “fixed” so that Kansas City will win, thus enhancing the power of the Swift/Kelce conspiratorial axis. And of course it’s all to promote COVID vaccines and Bud Light beer and abortion and transsexualism and gay marriage and the reelection of Joe Biden, because of course that is what George Soros wants Taylor Swift to do, because naturally, she’s another of his puppets…you can see the strings coming out of her head and hands in the photo of her and Kelce, can’t you?
Here is a right-wing podcaster neither you nor I have ever heard of called Benny Johnson, who appears in a black t-shirt on his internet show and shouts his conspiracies into the ether at the top of his lungs:
“You’ll see in October the release like a—of what will look like a hostage video or a Visiting Angels ad, right? Visiting Angels. And they’ll have Joe Biden sitting there all twisted up like, you know, in a wheelchair like an eggplant with his glazed-over skin like a Krispy Kreme donut drooling out of the side of his mouth. And Taylor Swift and Mr. Bud Light Pfizer will come in and pat Grandpa on the shoulder and tell all of their brain-dead fans to go vote for him. Taylor Swift, of course, also a psy-op for the NFL wives out there, all the moms who are, like, just not really watching the games but maybe watching because of Taylor Swift….”
And on he goes, and on they’ll all go, because Taylor Swift is such a threat that there is a full-on loon-media swarm bent on taking her down before she turns the youth of America into libs. You heard about that, didn’t you? Last September, Swift put up an Instagram post urging her fans to register to vote, and the non-partisan Vote.org reported that 35,000 people did just that.
Oh, I almost forgot. Taylor has 279 million Instagram followers.
Maybe they do have something to worry about.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.